Skunks belong to the family Mustelidae, and are best known for their ability to excrete a strong, foul-smelling odour. General appearances range from species to species, from black-and-white, to brown or cream coloured. Overall there are 11 species of skunk, Mephitis, Spilogale, Mydaus and Conepatus. Most skunks inhabit the Americas from Canada to central South America, the two species in the Mydaus genus. however, inhabit Indonesia and the Philippines.
Skunk species vary in size from about 15.6 to 37 inches (40 to 70 cm) and in weight from about 1.1 pounds (0.5 kg) to 18 pounds (8.2 kg). They have a moderately elongated body with relatively short, well-muscled legs, and long front claws for digging.
Although the most common fur color is black and white, some skunks are brown or gray, and a few are cream-colored. All skunks are striped, even from birth. They may have a single thick stripe across back and tail, two thinner stripes, or a series of white spots and broken stripes (in the case of the spotted skunk). Some also have stripes on their legs.
Anal Scent GlandsEdit
The notorious feature of skunks is their anal scent glands, which they can use as a defensive weapon. Skunks have two glands, one on either side of the anus, that produce a mixture of sulfur-containing chemicals, that have a highly offensive smell. The odor of the fluid is strong enough to ward off bears and other potential attackers, and can be difficult to remove from clothing. Muscles located next to the scent glands allow them to spray with high accuracy as far as 2 to 5 meters (7 to 15 ft).
The smell aside, the spray can cause irritation and even temporary blindness, and is sufficiently powerful to be detected by even an insensitive human nose anywhere up to a mile downwind.
- Order Carnivora
- Family Mephitidae
- Striped Skunk, Mephitis mephitis
- Hooded Skunk, Mephitis macroura
- Southern Spotted Skunk, Spilogale angustifrons
- Western Spotted Skunk, Spilogale gracilis
- Channel Islands Spotted Skunk, Spilogale gracilis amphiala
- Eastern Spotted Skunk, Spilogale putorius
- Pygmy Spotted Skunk, Spilogale pygmaea
- Western Hog-nosed Skunk, Conepatus mesoleucus
- Eastern Hog-nosed Skunk, Conepatus leuconotus
- Striped Hog-nosed Skunk, Conepatus semistriatus
- Molina's Hog-nosed Skunk|Andes skunk, Conepatus chinga
- Patagonian Skunk, Conepatus humboldtii
- Indonesian or Javan Stink Badger (Teledu), Mydaus javanensis (sometimes included in Mustelidae)
- Palawan Stink Badger, Mydaus marchei (sometimes included in Mustelidae)
- Family Mephitidae