Striped Skunk
Mephitis mephitis
skunk

The striped skunk belongs to the Mustelidae family (catchers of mice) along with ferrets, mink, and weasels even though skunks are omnivorous. The striped skunk is true to its name, both common and scientific. Its scientific name (mephitis mephitis) actually means "noxious gas, noxious gas". And the striped skunk has a very bold white stripe used as a warning to its smelly contents. And each skunk has its own unique coloration pattern. A skunk's first line of defense is their two musk glands located on either side of the anus which spray an extremely smelly yellow foam. But before a skunk sprays it goes through a series of warning motions. First it erects its tail and stamps its feet. Then it will hiss. If the intruder has not gone away by then, the skunk will spray. A skunk can spray as far away as 12 feet and as many as 8 times.

Species: Mammal.

Habitat: Woods and fields throughout North America, except the deserts of the Southwest.

Enemies: Great horned owls and bobcats.

Diet: Skunks are omnivorous but they mostly eat insects. They also eat bird's eggs and fruit.

Fun facts: Skunks have poor vision but their smell and hearing is good. Also skunks are resistant to snake venom and can survive 10 times the venom needed to kill an animal of the same size. And a skunk can spray its musk accurately up to 10 feet and less accurately to about 16 feet.

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