Spotted Skunk

Spilogale gracilis

 
Drawing of spotted skunk tracks by Kim A. Cabrera
7/8 - 1 3/8 in. L x 5/8 - 1 1/8 in. W 13/16 - 1 1/4 in. L x 13/16 - 1 in. W

Natural History of Spotted Skunks

The spotted skunk, also known as the hydrophobia cat or the civet cat, is the size of a small domestic cat, about half the size of a striped skunk.

They are more social than other skunks. Several may share a den over the winter. They den in hollow logs, brush piles, and the burrows of other animals.

The spotted skunk is the most carnivorous of all skunks. It eats small mammals, insects, rats, mice, grapes, fruit, corn, and grubs.

Owls are the primary predator of skunks. Owls can strike silently from above and carry off a young skunk before the parent can use its defensive spray.

 

Shy spotted skunk hiding under a building. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2004.

Spotted skunks are good climbers and will climb trees to escape from predators. They are faster and more agile than striped skunks.

In early spring, four to six blind, furred young are born. They don't have the distinctive black and white spotted fur coloration until early summer.

The spotted skunk has a unique spraying behavior. When threatened, it will turn its back, do a handstand on its forefeet, raise its tail, and spray. It can accurately spray a predator 12 to 20 feet away. Most predators are wary and will back off when the skunk begins this display. Skunk scent comes from a chemical called methyl mercaptan and is carried in glands near the animalís tail.

Spotted skunk tracks show five toes on each foot, with claw marks. The heel pad of the hind print is distinctively lobed.

These skunks were hunted for their fine, silky pelts, which are very valuable.

Spotted skunks have a home range of about 150 acres. They weigh one to two pounds and are about 1Ĺ feet long from nose to tip of tail. They den in dry places, beneath buildings, in tree cavities, or in rock piles.

 

Spotted skunk on a deck. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2004.

 

Spotted skunk track. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2004.

Western spotted skunk track made when the animal stepped in a puddle, then onto a painted wooden deck.

Spotted skunk tracks. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2004.

Same skunk track as above, but with my keys for scale.

 

Spotted skunk track from soot plate. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2001.

A spotted skunk track gathered on a sooted bait plate during a wildlife survey.

 

Personal Notes on Spotted Skunks

The spotted skunk in the photos above showed up under my porch one night, not too long after I rescued it from a garbage can into which it had fallen. It had likely been in the garbage can for several days by the time I found it and it was starving. I fed it several bowls of cat food and gave it some water before I released it. It didn't threaten me and never showed aggression. It simply ate, like any starving animal will. Then, once it had eaten and drank its fill, I gently tipped over the can and released it. It wandered over, sniffed my foot, and then waddled away. I didn't see it until a few nights later when it peered in my screen door. My cats didn't know what to make of it. I went outside and got a couple photos of it. It hid under the building and just watched me. Since then, I have occasionally found spotted skunk tracks around and I always think of this little one.
 
western spotted skunk
 
 
 

Spotted Skunk Tracks

 

Find skunk posters, greeting cards, t-shirts, hats, and more in my new store.

Visit Beartracker's Nature Store at: www.dirt-time.com  Happy tracking!!

What else can you find in the nature store? Beartracker's animal tracks coloring book, T-shirts, sweatshirts, journals, book bags, toddler and infant apparel, mouse pads, posters, postcards, coffee mugs, travel mugs, clocks, Frisbees, bumper stickers, hats, stickers, and many more items. All with tracks or paw  prints, or nature scenes. Custom products are available. If you don't see the track you want on the product you want, email me and I can probably create it. Proceeds from all sales go to pay the monthly fees for this web site. You can help support this site as well as get great tracking products! Thank you!

 

Find other tracking products: www.zazzle.com/tracker8459*

 

Also visit these fine stores for more products of interest:

NDN Pride shop - For Indian Pride items for all tribes. Custom items available on request.

ASL Signs of Love - For anyone who uses or is learning ASL, American Sign Language. Custom name items and more are available here.

Get Every Child Outdoors (Get E.C.O.) - My shop dedicated to nature and getting kids interested in nature and the outdoors.

Sales from all stores give commissions to Beartracker's Animal Tracks Den, which helps keep this site online as a free service. We are celebrating ten years online this year!

 

prints prints

Got a skunk story? E-mail me and tell me about it.

tracker777@hotmail.com

You are visitor number:

Back to Mammals page

Back to the Animal Tracks Den

Copyright © 1997, 2008, 2012. Text, photos, and drawings by Kim A. Cabrera