When a western spotted skunk (Spilogale gracilis) starts doing handstands it is time to get out of its way. It is about to dowse you with butyl mercaptan - an extremely smelly sulphurous liquid. Other warning postures include tail raising, stamping, hissing, floor scratching and charging and lead to the final pay-off, which it delivers with a swaying movement designed to cover as large an area as possible. Even skunks dislike skunk smell and will not spray anywhere near their dens. Any creature drenched by a skunk forever associates its warning black-and-white markings with a nasty experience.

Skunks eat eggs, young rabbits, fruit, berries, mice, voles, roots, grasshoppers and even scorpions.


ARKive photo of the western spotted skunk

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