Striped skunk

Striped skunk[1]
Striped Skunk (Mephitis mephitis) DSC 0030.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Species:M. mephitis
Binomial name
Mephitis mephitis
(Schreber, 1776)
Map showing North America
Range of Mephitis mephitis

The striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis) is a skunk of the genus Mephitis that is native to southern Canada, the United States and northern Mexico. It is currently listed as least concern by the IUCN on account of its wide range and ability to adapt to human-modified environments.[2]

It is a polygamous omnivore with few natural predators, save for birds of prey.[3] The striped skunk has a long history of association with humans, having been trapped and captively bred for its fur[4] and kept as an exotic pet.[5] It is one of the most recognizable of North America's animals, and is a popular figure in cartoons and children's books.[6]


The striped skunk is a stoutly-built, short-limbed animal with a small, conical head and a long, heavily furred tail.[7] Adult males are 10% larger than females, with both sexes measuring between 52–77 cm in total body length and usually weighing 1.8–4.5 kg (4.0–9.9 lb), though some may weigh 5.5 kg (12 lb).[8] The feet are plantigrade with bare soles,[8] and are not as broad or flat as those of hog-nosed skunks.[7] The forefeet are armed with five long, curved claws adapted for digging, while those on the hind feet are shorter and straighter.[8]

The color patterns of the fur vary greatly, but generally consist of a black base with a white stripe extending from the head which divides along the shoulders, continuing along the flanks to the rump and tail. Some specimens have a white patch on the chest, while others bear white stripes on the outer surface of the front limbs.[8] Brown or cream-colored mutations occasionally occur.[9]

Like all skunks, the striped skunk possesses two highly developed scent glands, one on each side of the anus, containing about 15 milliliters of musk each.[10] This oily, yellow-colored musk consists of a mixture of powerfully odorous thiols (sulfur analogues of alcohols, in older sources called "mercaptans"), which can be sprayed at a distance of several meters. The odor of this musk was likened by Ernest Thompson Seton to a mixture of perfume musk, essence of garlic, burning sulfur and sewer gas "magnified a thousand times",[9] though Clinton Hart Merriam claimed that it isn't "one tenth" as offensive as that produced by minks and weasels.[10]

Other Languages
العربية: ظربان مخطط
Atikamekw: Cikakw
български: Ивичест скункс
brezhoneg: Skoñs roudennek
čeština: Skunk pruhovaný
Deutsch: Streifenskunk
eesti: Skunk
Ελληνικά: Μεφίτης
français: Mouffette rayée
interlingua: Mephitis mephitis
ქართული: მყრალა
kaszëbsczi: Zwëczajny skąks
Lëtzebuergesch: Mephitis mephitis
მარგალური: სკუნსი
Nederlands: Gestreepte skunk
português: Cangambá
українська: Скунс смугастий
Tiếng Việt: Chồn hôi sọc
中文: 臭鼬