There’s something profoundly fascinating about skunks, and wildlife in general. While many people assume these black and white bandits are nothing more than stinky vandals, that’s actually far from the truth. Skunks are surprising, and fascinating creatures that are worth learning more about. Love them or hate them, it’s still worthwhile learning about skunks, even if only to prepare you for a potential skunk infestation.
Understanding how these creatures operate can make a difference in the face of an undesired invasion. So check out the amazing skunk facts below, and while you’re at it, see skunk photos here, for a better appreciation of these critters.
Skunk Fact #1: They actually don’t like spraying
While it’s a common misconception that skunks will spray anything and everything that moves, the truth is actually quite different. See, skunks only run on limited spraying supplies. Which means that, after they’ve sprayed out their stock, they’ll need a few days to recharge, leaving them defenseless in the face of predators. So skunks will usually go to extensive lengths to avoid spraying someone.
First off, they will prefer to flee instead of fight, if possible. If they can’t do that, they rely on their distinctive back coloring. The white stripes point to the skunk’s rear end, which is where it would spray from. In other words, it’s a warning to potential predators.
If that doesn’t work, the skunk will engage in an elaborate dance, designed to also scare off predators. And if all else fails, it will spray. So in other words, if you see a skunk on your property, just back off.
Skunk Fact #2: The spray is quite potent
The reason why skunks are largely unchallenged in the animal kingdom, in spite of their small size, is the insane potency of their spray. Shooting from the skunk’s anal glands, this highly sulfur-scented spray can reach up to 10 feet from the skunk’s location. To top that off, even if you’re more than 10 feet away, you might still experience adverse effects from the spray, as its scent can be felt for up to a mile.
Because of its sulfur component, skunk spray leaves an intense burning sensation, and can cause significant visual impairment, if it comes into contact with the eyes. Skunk spray is also flammable, though it takes a long time to ignite.
Skunk Fact #3: Contrary to popular belief, skunks are not weasels
It was once believed that skunks belonged to the Mustelidae family, alongside weasels, otters, and wolverines. However, it was later discovered that skunks are in a class of their own, alongside stink badgers, and belong to the Mephitidae family (which essentially means “stink”). In the Mephitidae family, there are only four genera, of which three are considered true skunks, and live in the New World.
Although animals in the Mustelidae family also have ducts to discharge odor markings, the way skunks discharge their spray differs significantly. This sets the two animal families apart.
Skunk Fact #4: Skunks are popular pets
In spite of what you may think, skunks are actually deemed quite popular pets by some. Mysteriously, these stinky animals are considered quite nice to have around, with many pet-owners craving one. However, since 33 states in America ban the possession of skunks, these people are quite limited in their options.
While the animal is deeply intelligent actually and observant, both qualities for a good pet, a skunk is not really suited for domestic life. Especially since many people who keep skunks as pets actually have their odor glands removed, so that the skunk doesn’t spray anymore. This is not only cruel to the animal, but can be dangerous, as it leaves the skunk defenseless in the wild.
Generally, wildlife removal professionals like Wildlife Removal New Hampshire warn against keeping a skunk as a pet. It’s dangerous both to the skunk, as well as the human owner. According to experts, even if you do remove the odor glands, to stop the skunk from spraying, it’s still a wild animal. This means it’s a potential carrier for a wide range of diseases. And since a skunk isn’t tailored for domestic life, there’s a big change it will scratch or bite the owner, thus potentially infecting them.
Barry Lachey is a Professional Editor at Zobuz. Previously He has also worked for Moxly Sports and Network Resources “Joe Joe.” he is a graduate of the Kings College at the University of Thames Valley London. You can reach Barry via email or by phone.