Interesting Facts About Skunks: They Release A Foul Spray

Skunks are small, furry animals with black and white stripes. Some skunks are striped, and some are spotted or have swirl patterns on their fur. No matter the pattern, the black-and-white coloring is a warning sign to anyone who may harm this small creature.
They pack a wallop of a defense mechanism — noxious odors produced from their well-developed scent glands. Skunks usually nest in burrows constructed by other animals, but they also live in hollow logs or even abandoned buildings. In colder climates, some skunks may sleep in these nests for several weeks of the chilliest season.
Skunks are mammals that can be easily recognized by their black and white colored fur. There are 10 species of skunks and almost all of them live in North and Central America. They can live in open, shrub, wooded and urban areas. Skunks are not on the list of endangered species. There’s more to know about skunks than their unique appearance and smelly spray.
Let’s now look at some interesting facts about Skunks:
1. Some people can’t smell skunks horrible-smelling spray at all and not because they have no sense of smell. Specific anosmia, or insensitivity to one particular smell, is actually more common than general anosmia and one in every 1000 people has no ability to detect skunk spray.
2. If threatened, skunks stamp their front feet, lift their tail, and growl. Some species of skunk even spring into a handstand before spraying, which puts the skunk’s warning markings on full display. If the person or animal doesn’t retreat, the skunk aims the spray at the eyes, allowing the skunk to escape.
3. Skunks are legendary for their powerful predator-deterrent—a hard-to-remove, horrible-smelling spray. A skunk’s spray is an oily liquid produced by glands under its large tail. To employ this scent bomb, a skunk turns around and blasts its foe with a foul mist that can travel as far as 3 meters (10 feet).
4. Skunks are omnivorous, eating both plants and animals and changing their diets as the seasons change. They eat insects and larvae, earthworms, grubs, rodents, lizards, salamanders, frogs, snakes, fish, birds, moles and eggs. They also commonly eat berries, roots, leaves, grasses, fungi and nuts. In settled areas, skunks also seek garbage left by humans.
5. Skunks are crepuscular and solitary animals when not breeding, though in the colder parts of their range, they may gather in communal dens for warmth. During the day, they shelter in burrows which they can dig with their powerful front claws. Males and females occupy overlapping home ranges through the greater part of the year, typically 2 to 4 km2 (0.77 to 1.54 square miles) for females and up to 20 km2 (7.7 square miles) for males.
6. It is rare for a healthy skunk to bite a human. While a tame skunk with its scent glands removed may defend itself by biting, there are few recorded incidents. The most prevalent cause of skunks biting humans is the rabies virus.
7. Skunks are not true hibernators in the winter, but do den up for extended periods. However, they remain generally inactive and feed rarely, going through a dormant stage. Over winter, multiple females (as many as 12) huddle together; males often den alone. Often, the same winter den is repeatedly used.
8. 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 and eats the guard bees that come out to investigate. Mother skunks are known to teach this behavior to their young.
9. Although they have excellent senses of smell and hearing, they have poor vision, being unable to see objects more than about 3 m (10 ft) away, making them vulnerable to death by road traffic. They are short-lived; their lifespan in the wild can reach seven years, with most living only up to a year. In captivity, they may live for up to 10 years.

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