Wild Things :: Skunks and Skunk Spray
Skunks are well known for their nasty smelling spray. They're small furry animals about the size of a cat that belong to the weasel and ferret family. Skunks easily adapt to most living conditions so you'll see them sniffing grass in the country or waddling behind some garbage cans in the city.
Not all skunks have a white stripe down their back. There are four different kinds of skunks that live in North America and Europe. There's the Spotted, Hognosed, Hooded and the Striped skunks. The Striped skunk (the most common) and the Spotted are named after the look of their fur. The Hooded skunk has so much hair around its neck that it looks like it's wearing a hood. The Hognosed has a nose that looks like a hog's nose.
The Myth Behind Spraying
It's a myth that skunks spray all the time. They give lots of warning before they spray and even then, they only spray in life threatening situations. A skunk may never spray during its lifetime. Here's how you can tell if a skunk might spray. Most skunks give a warning by stomping their front feet, raising their tail and walking stiff-legged. Spotted skunks even try to bluff by doing a handstand on their front legs and lifting their tail but they don't spray. If a skunk does spray, they aim it at the face and it causes intense irritation and temporary blindness if it gets in the eyes.
Bad Rep For Skunks
Skunks have a bad rep for carrying rabies. Some people think that when these animals are seen during the day, they must be rabid. They could be out during the day for several reasons including their home was destroyed, they're desperate for food, they want to mate or are looking for their mother. Like most animals, skunks die from rabies and have as much chance of carrying it as other wild animals.
It's a Fact
Did you know skunks can spray up to five meters (16 feet) and even further if it's a windy day but they're only accurate for about up to three meters (10 feet)?