Skunk
Overview
Skunks are mammal
Mammal
Mammals are members of a class of air-breathing vertebrate animals characterised by the possession of endothermy, hair, three middle ear bones, and mammary glands functional in mothers with young...

s best known for their ability to secrete a liquid with a strong, foul odor. General appearance varies from species to species, from black-and-white to brown or cream colored. Skunks belong to the family
Family (biology)
In biological classification, family is* a taxonomic rank. Other well-known ranks are life, domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, genus, and species, with family fitting between order and genus. As for the other well-known ranks, there is the option of an immediately lower rank, indicated by the...

 Mephitidae and to the order
Order (biology)
In scientific classification used in biology, the order is# a taxonomic rank used in the classification of organisms. Other well-known ranks are life, domain, kingdom, phylum, class, family, genus, and species, with order fitting in between class and family...

 Carnivora
Carnivora
The diverse order Carnivora |Latin]] carō "flesh", + vorāre "to devour") includes over 260 species of placental mammals. Its members are formally referred to as carnivorans, while the word "carnivore" can refer to any meat-eating animal...

. There are twelve species of skunks, which are divided into four genera
Genus
In biology, a genus is a low-level taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, which is an example of definition by genus and differentia...

: Mephitis
Mephitis (genus)
The genus Mephitis is one of several genera of skunks, which has two species and a North American distribution.*Striped Skunk *Hooded Skunk...

(hooded
Hooded Skunk
The hooded skunk is a species of mammal in the family Mephitidae. It can be distinguished from the similar striped skunk by its longer tail and longer, softer coat of fur. A ruff of white fur around its neck gives the animal its common name. It is generally more white dorsally, and black...

 and striped skunk
Striped Skunk
The striped skunk, Mephitis mephitis, is an omnivorous mammal of the skunk family Mephitidae. Found over most of the North American continent north of Mexico, it is one of the best-known mammals in Canada and the United States.-Description:...

s, two species), Spilogale (spotted skunk
Spotted Skunk
The Eastern Spotted Skunk is smaller and more weasel-like than the striped skunk. The spotted skunks are faster and more agile than the striped skunks and they have better pelts. For the last 100 years, the Eastern Spotted Skunk was bred for its fine silky fur...

s, four species), Mydaus
Mydaus
Mydaus is a genus of Old World carnivore comprising two species of stink badger. There are two species - the Palawan stink badger , and the Sunda stink badger or Teledu...

(stink badgers, two species), and Conepatus (hog-nosed skunk
Hog-nosed skunk
The hog-nosed skunks belong to the genus Conepatus and are members of the family Mephitidae . They are native to the Americas. They have white backs and tails and black underparts...

s, four species).
Encyclopedia
Skunks are mammal
Mammal
Mammals are members of a class of air-breathing vertebrate animals characterised by the possession of endothermy, hair, three middle ear bones, and mammary glands functional in mothers with young...

s best known for their ability to secrete a liquid with a strong, foul odor. General appearance varies from species to species, from black-and-white to brown or cream colored. Skunks belong to the family
Family (biology)
In biological classification, family is* a taxonomic rank. Other well-known ranks are life, domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, genus, and species, with family fitting between order and genus. As for the other well-known ranks, there is the option of an immediately lower rank, indicated by the...

 Mephitidae and to the order
Order (biology)
In scientific classification used in biology, the order is# a taxonomic rank used in the classification of organisms. Other well-known ranks are life, domain, kingdom, phylum, class, family, genus, and species, with order fitting in between class and family...

 Carnivora
Carnivora
The diverse order Carnivora |Latin]] carō "flesh", + vorāre "to devour") includes over 260 species of placental mammals. Its members are formally referred to as carnivorans, while the word "carnivore" can refer to any meat-eating animal...

. There are twelve species of skunks, which are divided into four genera
Genus
In biology, a genus is a low-level taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, which is an example of definition by genus and differentia...

: Mephitis
Mephitis (genus)
The genus Mephitis is one of several genera of skunks, which has two species and a North American distribution.*Striped Skunk *Hooded Skunk...

(hooded
Hooded Skunk
The hooded skunk is a species of mammal in the family Mephitidae. It can be distinguished from the similar striped skunk by its longer tail and longer, softer coat of fur. A ruff of white fur around its neck gives the animal its common name. It is generally more white dorsally, and black...

 and striped skunk
Striped Skunk
The striped skunk, Mephitis mephitis, is an omnivorous mammal of the skunk family Mephitidae. Found over most of the North American continent north of Mexico, it is one of the best-known mammals in Canada and the United States.-Description:...

s, two species), Spilogale (spotted skunk
Spotted Skunk
The Eastern Spotted Skunk is smaller and more weasel-like than the striped skunk. The spotted skunks are faster and more agile than the striped skunks and they have better pelts. For the last 100 years, the Eastern Spotted Skunk was bred for its fine silky fur...

s, four species), Mydaus
Mydaus
Mydaus is a genus of Old World carnivore comprising two species of stink badger. There are two species - the Palawan stink badger , and the Sunda stink badger or Teledu...

(stink badgers, two species), and Conepatus (hog-nosed skunk
Hog-nosed skunk
The hog-nosed skunks belong to the genus Conepatus and are members of the family Mephitidae . They are native to the Americas. They have white backs and tails and black underparts...

s, four species). The two skunk species in the Mydaus genus inhabit Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

 and the Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

; all other skunks inhabit the Americas
Americas
The Americas, or America , are lands in the Western hemisphere, also known as the New World. In English, the plural form the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions, while the singular form America is primarily...

 from Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 to central South America
South America
South America is a continent situated in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. The continent is also considered a subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east...

.

Skunks had been classified as a subfamily within the family Mustelidae
Mustelidae
Mustelidae , commonly referred to as the weasel family, are a family of carnivorous mammals. Mustelids are diverse and the largest family in the order Carnivora, at least partly because in the past it has been a catch-all category for many early or poorly differentiated taxa...

, which includes ferret
Ferret
The ferret is a domesticated mammal of the type Mustela putorius furo. Ferrets are sexually dimorphic predators with males being substantially larger than females. They typically have brown, black, white, or mixed fur...

s, weasel
Weasel
Weasels are mammals forming the genus Mustela of the Mustelidae family. They are small, active predators, long and slender with short legs....

s, otter
Otter
The Otters are twelve species of semi-aquatic mammals which feed on fish and shellfish, and also other invertebrates, amphibians, birds and small mammals....

s and badger
Badger
Badgers are short-legged omnivores in the weasel family, Mustelidae. There are nine species of badger, in three subfamilies : Melinae , Mellivorinae , and Taxideinae...

s. However, recent genetic
Genetics
Genetics , a discipline of biology, is the science of genes, heredity, and variation in living organisms....

 evidence suggests that skunks are not as closely related to the mustelids as previously thought; they are now classified in their own family.

Etymology

The word polecat (with pole- from either the French poule "chicken" or puant "stinking") which in Europe refers to the wild relatives of the ferret
Ferret
The ferret is a domesticated mammal of the type Mustela putorius furo. Ferrets are sexually dimorphic predators with males being substantially larger than females. They typically have brown, black, white, or mixed fur...

, has been attested in the New World to refer to the animal since the 1680s. The word squunck is attested in New England
New England
New England is a region in the northeastern corner of the United States consisting of the six states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut...

 in the 1630s, probably borrowed from Abenaki
Abenaki language
The Abenaki language is a dialect continuum within the Eastern Algonquian languages, originally spoken in what is now Vermont, New Hampshire, northern Massachusetts and Maine...

 seganku or another Algonquian language
Algonquian languages
The Algonquian languages also Algonkian) are a subfamily of Native American languages which includes most of the languages in the Algic language family. The name of the Algonquian language family is distinguished from the orthographically similar Algonquin dialect of the Ojibwe language, which is a...

, with the Proto-Algonquian form */šeka:kwa/ being a compound of the roots */šek-/ meaning 'to urinate' and */-a:kw/ meaning 'fox'.

Physical description

Skunk species vary in size from about 15.6 to 37 in (39.6 to 94 cm) and in weight from about 1.1 pound (0.498951607 kg) (spotted skunks) to 18 pounds (8.2 kg) (hog-nosed skunk
Hog-nosed skunk
The hog-nosed skunks belong to the genus Conepatus and are members of the family Mephitidae . They are native to the Americas. They have white backs and tails and black underparts...

s). They have a moderately elongated body with relatively short, well-muscled legs, and long front claw
Claw
A claw is a curved, pointed appendage, found at the end of a toe or finger in most mammals, birds, and some reptiles. However, the word "claw" is also often used in reference to an invertebrate. Somewhat similar fine hooked structures are found in arthropods such as beetles and spiders, at the end...

s for digging.

Although the most common fur color is black and white, some skunks are brown or grey, 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.

Diet

Skunks are omnivorous, eating both plant and animal material and changing their diet as the seasons change. They eat insect
Insect
Insects are a class of living creatures within the arthropods that have a chitinous exoskeleton, a three-part body , three pairs of jointed legs, compound eyes, and two antennae...

s and larva
Larva
A larva is a distinct juvenile form many animals undergo before metamorphosis into adults. Animals with indirect development such as insects, amphibians, or cnidarians typically have a larval phase of their life cycle...

e, earthworm
Earthworm
Earthworm is the common name for the largest members of Oligochaeta in the phylum Annelida. In classical systems they were placed in the order Opisthopora, on the basis of the male pores opening posterior to the female pores, even though the internal male segments are anterior to the female...

s, small rodent
Rodent
Rodentia is an order of mammals also known as rodents, characterised by two continuously growing incisors in the upper and lower jaws which must be kept short by gnawing....

s, lizard
Lizard
Lizards are a widespread group of squamate reptiles, with nearly 3800 species, ranging across all continents except Antarctica as well as most oceanic island chains...

s, salamander
Salamander
Salamander is a common name of approximately 500 species of amphibians. They are typically characterized by a superficially lizard-like appearance, with their slender bodies, short noses, and long tails. All known fossils and extinct species fall under the order Caudata, while sometimes the extant...

s, frog
Frog
Frogs are amphibians in the order Anura , formerly referred to as Salientia . Most frogs are characterized by a short body, webbed digits , protruding eyes and the absence of a tail...

s, snake
Snake
Snakes are elongate, legless, carnivorous reptiles of the suborder Serpentes that can be distinguished from legless lizards by their lack of eyelids and external ears. Like all squamates, snakes are ectothermic, amniote vertebrates covered in overlapping scales...

s, bird
Bird
Birds are feathered, winged, bipedal, endothermic , egg-laying, vertebrate animals. Around 10,000 living species and 188 families makes them the most speciose class of tetrapod vertebrates. They inhabit ecosystems across the globe, from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Extant birds range in size from...

s, mole
Mole (animal)
Moles are small cylindrical mammals adapted to a subterranean lifestyle. They have velvety fur; tiny or invisible ears and eyes; and short, powerful limbs with large paws oriented for digging. The term is especially and most properly used for the true moles, those of the Talpidae family in the...

s, and eggs
Egg (biology)
An egg is an organic vessel in which an embryo first begins to develop. In most birds, reptiles, insects, molluscs, fish, and monotremes, an egg is the zygote, resulting from fertilization of the ovum, which is expelled from the body and permitted to develop outside the body until the developing...

. They also commonly eat berries, root
Root
In vascular plants, the root is the organ of a plant that typically lies below the surface of the soil. This is not always the case, however, since a root can also be aerial or aerating . Furthermore, a stem normally occurring below ground is not exceptional either...

s, leaves
Leaves
-History:Vocalist Arnar Gudjonsson was formerly the guitarist with Mower, and he was joined by Hallur Hallsson , Arnar Ólafsson , Bjarni Grímsson , and Andri Ásgrímsson . Late in 2001 they played with Emiliana Torrini and drew early praise from the New York Times...

, grass
Grass
Grasses, or more technically graminoids, are monocotyledonous, usually herbaceous plants with narrow leaves growing from the base. They include the "true grasses", of the Poaceae family, as well as the sedges and the rushes . The true grasses include cereals, bamboo and the grasses of lawns ...

es, fungi, and nut
Nut (fruit)
A nut is a hard-shelled fruit of some plants having an indehiscent seed. While a wide variety of dried seeds and fruits are called nuts in English, only a certain number of them are considered by biologists to be true nuts...

s.

In settled areas, skunks also seek human garbage. Less often, skunks may be found acting as scavenger
Scavenger
Scavenging is both a carnivorous and herbivorous feeding behavior in which individual scavengers search out dead animal and dead plant biomass on which to feed. The eating of carrion from the same species is referred to as cannibalism. Scavengers play an important role in the ecosystem by...

s, eating bird and rodent
Rodent
Rodentia is an order of mammals also known as rodents, characterised by two continuously growing incisors in the upper and lower jaws which must be kept short by gnawing....

 carcasses left by cat
Cat
The cat , also known as the domestic cat or housecat to distinguish it from other felids and felines, is a small, usually furry, domesticated, carnivorous mammal that is valued by humans for its companionship and for its ability to hunt vermin and household pests...

s or other animals. Pet owners, particularly those of cats, may experience a skunk finding its way into a garage or basement where pet food is kept. Skunks commonly dig holes in lawns in search of grubs and worms.

Skunks are one of the primary predators of the honeybee, relying on their thick fur to protect them from stings. The skunk scratches at the front of the beehive
Beehive
A beehive is a structure in which bees live and raise their young.Beehive may also refer to:Buildings and locations:* Bee Hive, Alabama, a neighborhood in Alabama* Beehive , a wing of the New Zealand Parliament Buildings...

 and eats the guard bees that come out to investigate. Mother skunks are known to teach this to their young.

Behavior

Skunks are crepuscular
Crepuscular
Crepuscular animals are those that are active primarily during twilight, that is during dawn and dusk. The word is derived from the Latin word crepusculum, meaning "twilight." Crepuscular is, thus, in contrast with diurnal and nocturnal behavior. Crepuscular animals may also be active on a bright...

 and are solitary animals when not breeding, though in the colder parts of their range
Range (biology)
In biology, the range or distribution of a species is the geographical area within which that species can be found. Within that range, dispersion is variation in local density.The term is often qualified:...

 they may gather in communal dens for warmth. During the day, they shelter in burrows that they dig with their powerful front claws, or in other man-made or natural hollows as the opportunity arises. Both genders occupy overlapping home ranges through the greater part of the year; typically 2 square kilometre for females, up to 20 square kilometre for males.

Skunks are not true hibernators in the winter, but do den up for extended periods of time. However, they remain generally inactive and feed rarely, going through a dormant stage. Overwinter multiple (as many as twelve) females huddle together. Males often den alone. The same winter den is often repeatedly used.

Although they have excellent senses of smell and hearing – vital attributes in a crepuscular omnivore – they have poor vision. They cannot see, with any clarity, objects more than about 3 metres (9.8 ft) away, making them vulnerable to death by road traffic
Traffic
Traffic on roads may consist of pedestrians, ridden or herded animals, vehicles, streetcars and other conveyances, either singly or together, while using the public way for purposes of travel...

. They are short-lived animals: Fewer than 10% survive for longer than three years.

Reproduction

Skunks typically mate in early spring and are a polygynous species, meaning that (successful) males usually mate with more than one female. Before giving birth (usually in May), the female will excavate a den to house her litter of four to seven kits. They are placental, with a gestation period of about 66 days.

When born, skunk kits are blind, deaf, and covered in a soft layer of fur. About three weeks after birth, their eyes open. The kits are weaned about two months after birth, but generally stay with their mother until they are ready to mate, at about one year of age.

The mother is very protective of her kits and will often spray at any sign of danger. The male plays no part in raising the young and may even kill them.

Anal scent glands

The most notorious feature of skunks is their anal scent glands, which they can use as a defensive weapon. They are similar to, though much more developed than, the glands found in species of the Mustelidae
Mustelidae
Mustelidae , commonly referred to as the weasel family, are a family of carnivorous mammals. Mustelids are diverse and the largest family in the order Carnivora, at least partly because in the past it has been a catch-all category for many early or poorly differentiated taxa...

 family. Skunks have two glands, one on each side of the anus
Anus
The anus is an opening at the opposite end of an animal's digestive tract from the mouth. Its function is to control the expulsion of feces, unwanted semi-solid matter produced during digestion, which, depending on the type of animal, may be one or more of: matter which the animal cannot digest,...

. These glands produce a mixture of sulfur
Sulfur
Sulfur or sulphur is the chemical element with atomic number 16. In the periodic table it is represented by the symbol S. It is an abundant, multivalent non-metal. Under normal conditions, sulfur atoms form cyclic octatomic molecules with chemical formula S8. Elemental sulfur is a bright yellow...

-containing chemicals such as methyl and butyl
Butyl
In organic chemistry, butyl is a four-carbon alkyl radical or substituent group with general chemical formula -C4H9, derived from either of the two isomers of butane....

 thiol
Thiol
In organic chemistry, a thiol is an organosulfur compound that contains a carbon-bonded sulfhydryl group...

s traditionally called mercaptans, which have a highly offensive smell that can be described as a combination of the odors of rotten eggs
Egg (food)
Eggs are laid by females of many different species, including birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish, and have probably been eaten by mankind for millennia. Bird and reptile eggs consist of a protective eggshell, albumen , and vitellus , contained within various thin membranes...

, garlic
Garlic
Allium sativum, commonly known as garlic, is a species in the onion genus, Allium. Its close relatives include the onion, shallot, leek, chive, and rakkyo. Dating back over 6,000 years, garlic is native to central Asia, and has long been a staple in the Mediterranean region, as well as a frequent...

 and burnt rubber
Rubber
Natural rubber, also called India rubber or caoutchouc, is an elastomer that was originally derived from latex, a milky colloid produced by some plants. The plants would be ‘tapped’, that is, an incision made into the bark of the tree and the sticky, milk colored latex sap collected and refined...

. 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
Projectile use by living systems
Although projectiles are commonly used in human conflict, projectile use by living systems other than humans is relatively rare.-Liquid projectiles:...

 with a high degree of accuracy, as far as 3 metres (9.8 ft). The smell aside, the spray can cause irritation and even temporary blindness and is sufficiently powerful to be detected by a human nose up to a mile downwind. Their chemical defense, though unusual, is effective, as illustrated by this extract from Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin FRS was an English naturalist. He established that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestry, and proposed the scientific theory that this branching pattern of evolution resulted from a process that he called natural selection.He published his theory...

's Voyage of the Beagle
The Voyage of the Beagle
The Voyage of the Beagle is a title commonly given to the book written by Charles Darwin and published in 1839 as his Journal and Remarks, bringing him considerable fame and respect...

:
‎Skunks are reluctant to use this weapon, as they carry just enough of the chemical for five or six uses – about 15 cc – and require some ten days to produce another supply. Their bold black and white coloring however serves to make the skunk's appearance memorable. Where practical, it is to a skunk's advantage simply to warn a threatening creature off without expending scent: black and white warning color aside, threatened skunks will go through an elaborate routine of hisses, foot stamping, and tail-high threat postures before resorting to the spray. Interestingly, skunks usually do not spray other skunks, with the exception of males in the mating season. Though they fight over den space in autumn, they do so with teeth and claws.

The singular musk-spraying
Projectile use by living systems
Although projectiles are commonly used in human conflict, projectile use by living systems other than humans is relatively rare.-Liquid projectiles:...

 ability of the skunk has not escaped the attention of biologists. The names of the family and the most common genus (Mephitidae, Mephitis) mean "stench," and Spilogale putorius means "stinking spotted weasel." The word skunk is a corruption of an Abenaki name for them, segongw or segonku, which means "one who squirts" in the Algonquian
Algonquian languages
The Algonquian languages also Algonkian) are a subfamily of Native American languages which includes most of the languages in the Algic language family. The name of the Algonquian language family is distinguished from the orthographically similar Algonquin dialect of the Ojibwe language, which is a...

 language.

Most predatory animals of the Americas, such as wolves, fox
Fox
Fox is a common name for many species of omnivorous mammals belonging to the Canidae family. Foxes are small to medium-sized canids , characterized by possessing a long narrow snout, and a bushy tail .Members of about 37 species are referred to as foxes, of which only 12 species actually belong to...

es and badgers, seldom attack skunks – presumably out of fear of being sprayed. The exception is the great horned owl
Great Horned Owl
The Great Horned Owl, , also known as the Tiger Owl, is a large owl native to the Americas. It is an adaptable bird with a vast range and is the most widely distributed true owl in the Americas.-Description:...

 – the animal's only serious predator – which, like most birds, has a poor-to-nonexistent sense of smell.

Skunks are common in suburban areas. Frequent encounters with dogs and other domestic animals, and the release of the odor when a skunk is run over
Roadkill
Roadkill is an animal or animals that have been struck and killed by motor vehicles. In the United States of America, removal and disposal of animals struck by motor vehicles is usually the responsibility of the state's state trooper association or department of transportation.-History:During the...

, have led to many myths about the removal of the skunk odor. Due to the chemical composition of the skunk spray, most of these household remedies are ineffective, with the exception of a peroxide formula or other remedies that break down the thiols.

Skunk spray is composed mainly of three low molecular weight thiol
Thiol
In organic chemistry, a thiol is an organosulfur compound that contains a carbon-bonded sulfhydryl group...

 compounds, (E)-2-butene-1-thiol, 3-methyl-1-butanethiol, and 2-quinolinemethanethiol, as well as acetate
Acetate
An acetate is a derivative of acetic acid. This term includes salts and esters, as well as the anion found in solution. Most of the approximately 5 billion kilograms of acetic acid produced annually in industry are used in the production of acetates, which usually take the form of polymers. In...

 thioesters of these. These compounds are detectable by the human nose at concentrations of only 10 parts per billion.

Bites

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are a United States federal agency under the Department of Health and Human Services headquartered in Druid Hills, unincorporated DeKalb County, Georgia, in Greater Atlanta...

 recorded 1,494 cases of rabies
Rabies
Rabies is a viral disease that causes acute encephalitis in warm-blooded animals. It is zoonotic , most commonly by a bite from an infected animal. For a human, rabies is almost invariably fatal if post-exposure prophylaxis is not administered prior to the onset of severe symptoms...

 in skunks in the United States for the year 2006 — about 21.5% of reported cases in all species. Skunks trail raccoon
Raccoon
Procyon is a genus of nocturnal mammals, comprising three species commonly known as raccoons, in the family Procyonidae. The most familiar species, the common raccoon , is often known simply as "the" raccoon, as the two other raccoon species in the genus are native only to the tropics and are...

s as vectors of rabies
Rabies
Rabies is a viral disease that causes acute encephalitis in warm-blooded animals. It is zoonotic , most commonly by a bite from an infected animal. For a human, rabies is almost invariably fatal if post-exposure prophylaxis is not administered prior to the onset of severe symptoms...

, although this varies regionally (raccoon
Raccoon
Procyon is a genus of nocturnal mammals, comprising three species commonly known as raccoons, in the family Procyonidae. The most familiar species, the common raccoon , is often known simply as "the" raccoon, as the two other raccoon species in the genus are native only to the tropics and are...

s dominate along the Atlantic coast
Atlantic Northeast
The Atlantic Northeast, or Arcadia, is a region of North America, comprising New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine and the Canadian Maritimes. Definitions of the region vary; it may extend to upstate New York and/or all of Atlantic Canada....

 and eastern Gulf of Mexico
Gulf Coast of the United States
The Gulf Coast of the United States, sometimes referred to as the Gulf South, South Coast, or 3rd Coast, comprises the coasts of American states that are on the Gulf of Mexico, which includes Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida and are known as the Gulf States...

, skunks throughout the Midwest
Midwestern United States
The Midwestern United States is one of the four U.S. geographic regions defined by the United States Census Bureau, providing an official definition of the American Midwest....

 and down to the western Gulf
Gulf Coast of the United States
The Gulf Coast of the United States, sometimes referred to as the Gulf South, South Coast, or 3rd Coast, comprises the coasts of American states that are on the Gulf of Mexico, which includes Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida and are known as the Gulf States...

, and in California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

). Despite this prevalence, all recorded cases of human rabies from 1990–2002 are attributed by the CDC
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are a United States federal agency under the Department of Health and Human Services headquartered in Druid Hills, unincorporated DeKalb County, Georgia, in Greater Atlanta...

 to dog
Dog
The domestic dog is a domesticated form of the gray wolf, a member of the Canidae family of the order Carnivora. The term is used for both feral and pet varieties. The dog may have been the first animal to be domesticated, and has been the most widely kept working, hunting, and companion animal in...

s or bat
Bat
Bats are mammals of the order Chiroptera "hand" and pteron "wing") whose forelimbs form webbed wings, making them the only mammals naturally capable of true and sustained flight. By contrast, other mammals said to fly, such as flying squirrels, gliding possums, and colugos, glide rather than fly,...

s.

Domestication

The keeping of skunks as pets is legal in only certain U.S. states. Mephitis mephitis, the striped skunk species, is the most social skunk and the one most commonly domesticated. When a skunk is kept as a pet, its scent gland is surgically removed. Typical life spans for domesticated skunks are longer than wild skunks.

Domesticated skunks
Pet skunk
A pet skunk is a skunk kept by humans for companionship and enjoyment. Although capable of living indoors with humans similarly to dogs or cats, pet skunks are relatively rare, partly due to restrictive laws and the complexity of their care...

 can legally be kept as pet
Pet
A pet is a household animal kept for companionship and a person's enjoyment, as opposed to wild animals or to livestock, laboratory animals, working animals or sport animals, which are kept for economic or productive reasons. The most popular pets are noted for their loyal or playful...

s in the UK. However, the Animal Welfare Act 2006
Animal Welfare Act 2006
The Animal Welfare Act 2006 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom.It is the first overhaul of pet law since the Protection of Animals Act 1911, which it largely replaced. It also superseded and consolidated more than 20 other pieces of legislation, such as the Protection of Animals Act...

 has made it illegal to remove their scent glands (it is considered to be a cosmetic operation), thus making them impractical as pets.

Classification

Arranged alphabetically.
  • Family Mephitidae
    • Genus: Conepatus
      • Conepatus chingaMolina's Hog-nosed Skunk
        Molina's Hog-nosed Skunk
        Molina's hog-nosed skunk, also called the Andes Skunk , is a skunk species from South America. It is found in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Peru and Uruguay in heights up to 5000m.-References:**The Andes: A Trekking Guide...

      • Conepatus humboldtiiHumboldt's Hog-nosed Skunk
        Humboldt's Hog-nosed Skunk
        Humboldt's hog-nosed skunk, also known as the Patagonian hog-nosed skunk is a type of hog-nosed skunk indigenous to the open grassy areas in the Patagonian regions of Argentina and Chile.- Appearance :...

      • Conepatus leuconotusAmerican Hog-nosed Skunk
        American Hog-nosed Skunk
        The American hog-nosed skunk is a species of hog-nosed skunk from Central and North America, and is one of the largest skunk in the world, growing to lengths of up to 2.7 feet...

      • Conepatus semistriatusStriped Hog-nosed Skunk
        Striped Hog-nosed Skunk
        The striped hog-nosed skunk, Conepatus semistriatus, is a skunk species from Central and South America. It lives in a wide range of habitats including dry forest scrub and occasionally, in rainforest....

    • Genus: Mephitis
      • Mephitis macrouraHooded Skunk
        Hooded Skunk
        The hooded skunk is a species of mammal in the family Mephitidae. It can be distinguished from the similar striped skunk by its longer tail and longer, softer coat of fur. A ruff of white fur around its neck gives the animal its common name. It is generally more white dorsally, and black...

      • Mephitis mephitisStriped Skunk
        Striped Skunk
        The striped skunk, Mephitis mephitis, is an omnivorous mammal of the skunk family Mephitidae. Found over most of the North American continent north of Mexico, it is one of the best-known mammals in Canada and the United States.-Description:...

    • Genus: Mydaus
      • Mydaus javanensis – Indonesian or Javan Stink Badger
        Javan Stink Badger
        The Sunda stink badger is a mammal of Southeast Asia. There is strong DNA evidence that the genus Mydaus is not a member of the badger family at all, but are in fact Old World relatives of the skunks...

         (Teledu)
      • Mydaus marcheiPalawan Stink Badger
        Palawan Stink Badger
        The Palawan stink badger is a small skunk that lives on the Philippine Islands of Palawan and Busuanga. They live primarily in the grasslands and in cultivated areas on these islands.- External links :*...

    • Genus: Spilogale
      • Spilogale angustifrons – Southern Spotted Skunk
      • Spilogale gracilisWestern Spotted Skunk
        Western Spotted Skunk
        The Western Spotted Skunk is a spotted skunk found throughout the western United States, northern Mexico, and southwestern British Columbia. With a total length of , the Western Spotted Skunk is smaller than the Striped Skunk . Their habitat is mixed woodlands, open areas, and farmlands. They...

      • Spilogale putoriusEastern Spotted Skunk
        Eastern Spotted Skunk
        The Eastern Spotted Skunk is a small, relatively slender skunk found throughout the eastern United States and in small areas of Canada and Mexico....

      • Spilogale pygmaeaPygmy Spotted Skunk
        Pygmy Spotted Skunk
        The Pygmy Spotted Skunk is a species of mammal in the Mephitidae family. It is endemic to Mexico....


External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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