Striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis)

Skunk sniffing dry grass

Striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis)

Striped skunks are an iconic member of the family Mephitidae. These mesocarnivores are from coast to coast in the United states and into southern Canada and northern Mexico. They inhabit a wide array of habitats including woodlands, forests, and plains ecosystems. As humans have encroached into more and more of their natural habitat, they have also expanded into more urban environments, similar to the way racoons have. Striped skunks are one of the most easily identified animals in the world with their black coat and thin white stripe on their snout and forehead. They also have a white marking on their nape that runs along the back and splits into a V-shape towards the rump end.

These docile critters usually ignore other animals and live a solitary lifestyle, except during breeding season. While normally they are quite passive, one of the most well-known things about skunks is their defensive behaviors. Mephitids have extremely enlarged scent glands, from which an odorous musk can be discharged up to 6 meters to deter threats. If they are approached, they will face away from their opponent and raise their tail while stomping their forelegs on the ground, occasionally even doing a handstand. Learn more about these stinky skunks.

Written by Timothy Uttenhove
PC: Daniel Arndt on Flickr https://flic.kr/p/GeTxnA