Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah
image A Tooele County skunk roaming the fields near Pine Canyon last summer.

January 9, 2014
Skunks have other advantages besides emitting a bad odor

Like venomous snakes with a limited supply of venom, skunks have the same ordeal with their odorous spray. They too must use sparingly otherwise their main defense mechanism can fatally cost them their life if unavailable. Skunks are capable of spraying five to six times before running out, and when depleted it takes approximately 10 days for a skunk’s supply of spray to regenerate.

Although most of the time they don’t have to emit that much spray that often, skunks, again like snakes, will avoid using their spray until something forces their hand to do so. Alternatively, they demonstrate hissing, stamping their feet, and using tail-raised postures to scare off humans and animals. In fact, their black and white fur is aposematic to animals, signaling that they are equipped with special defense capabilities or dangerous advantages.

Skunks basically have only two main predators to be wearisome, the great horned owl and our road ways. Skunks occasionally are eaten by coyotes, foxes, bobcats, hawks and eagles, but sadly, roads are a skunk’s biggest fatality over any animal. A skunk’s biggest disadvantage is their poor eye-sight. They can only see obstacles no farther away than 10 feet. This makes it almost impossible for them to react quickly enough to move out of the way of an approaching automobile

Some interesting facts about skunks, the oldest fossils found today date 10 million years old. Farmers sometimes keep skunks domestically to help control rodents and other pests on their property. Skunks may have poor vision, but they have excellent smell and hearing capabilities. Skunks are capable of spraying up to distances of 10 to 23 feet, and during mating season male skunks will spray each other in competition for an available female.

 

Addie T. Lindsay is 17 years old. She is an accomplished writer and photographer of wildlife creatures, big and small. She can be reached at CritterChatter@Live.com.

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