American hog-nosed skunk

The American hog-nosed skunk (Conepatus leuconotus) is a species of hog-nosed skunk from Central and North America, and is one of the largest skunks in the world, growing to lengths of up to 2.7 feet (82 cm).[2] Recent work has concluded the western hog-nosed skunk (formerly Conepatus mesoleucus) is the same species, and Conepatus leuconotus is the correct name of the merged populations.[3]

In Texas, it is commonly known as the rooter skunk for its habit of rooting and overturning rocks and debris in search of food.

American hog-nosed skunk
Scientific classification
C. leuconotus
Binomial name
Conepatus leuconotus
(Lichtenstein, 1832)
Conepatus leuconotus range
Conepatus leuconotus range


Hognosed skunk
Hog-nosed skunk

The distinguishing feature of the American hog-nosed skunk is it has a single, broad white stripe from the top of the head to the base of the tail, with the tail itself being completely white. It is the only skunk that lacks a white dot or medial bar between the eyes and has primarily black body fur. The snout of C. leuconotus is relatively long, with a naked nose pad, and resembles the nose of a small hog. The nose pad (20 mm wide by 25 mm long) is about three times wider than that of Mephitis mephitis. The ears are small and rounded, and the eyes are relatively small. The fur is short and coarse.

Hog-nosed Skunk Skeleton
A hog-nosed skunk skeleton on exhibit at the Museum of Osteology, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

The American hog-nosed skunk has stocky legs and plantigrade feet (the entire sole of the foot touches the ground). Its hind feet are broad and large with soles that are naked for about one-half their length. Its upper body is powerfully built, and the fore claws are very long. Length can range from 44.4–93.4 cm (17.5–36.8 in) and weight is typically 1,130–4,500 g (2.49–9.92 lb).[4] The striped skunk can broadly overlap in size with this species, but in comparison the striped, has a shorter head-and-body length and a longer tail than the hog-nosed skunk.[5] Males of this species average about 10% larger than females.

The American hog-nosed skunk is adapted for digging, and resembles badgers rather than other species of skunks in this respect. The rectangular-shaped scapula, strong forearms, and shape of the humeri of C. leuconotus resemble those of badgers. The nostrils are located ventrally and open downward. Their sense of smell is acute, and the nose is used in locating and capturing buried prey. This skunk species also is a capable climber, although not as agile as the spotted skunks of the genus Spilogale.[6]


C. leuconotus breeds from late February through early March; most adult females are pregnant by the end of March. Typically, gestation lasts about 60 days. Birth occurs in April and May. Half-grown young have been observed in late July and mid-August, and by late August young begin to disperse. The litter size is one to five young, although two to four are most common.[6]

Range and habitat

This species occurs in canyons, stream sides, and rocky terrain. It has been collected in a variety of habitats in Mexico, including open desert-scrub and mesquite-grasslands, tropical areas, mountains, coastal plains, cornfields surrounded by brushland or adjacent to grassy plains and thickets of bull-horn acacia, thorn woodland, and riparian forests, characterized by live-oaks, pecans, sycamores, and Texas persimmons and an understory of briars, grasses, and weeds. It also has been found in pine–oak forest and in scrub and cacti. In Kleberg County, Texas, C. leuconotus occurs in mesquite-brushland, pastures, and native grassland, used exclusively for cattle ranching. Thorny brush and cactus are the predominant vegetation in the region of southern Texas where this species occurs.[6]

It is omnivorous, feeding primarily on insects and vegetation, though it will take small mammals and reptiles when available. While sometimes considered a pest by crop farmers due to their rooting habits, this is largely misplaced, as it generally prefers insects to agricultural plants. Like all skunk species, it possesses powerful anal glands used to deter would-be attackers.


Three subspecies are currently recognized,[6] although one may be extinct:

  • C. l. leuconotus – Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua
  • C. l. figginsi – Colorado
  • C. l. telmalestes † – southeastern Texas


Although not threatened through most of its range, one subspecies, the big thicket hog-nosed skunk (C. l. telmalestes) of Oklahoma and southeastern Texas, is now considered extinct by the IUCN.

Globally, this species is of low concern for conservation efforts, but at the local level, it is considered threatened in some states. In Colorado, for instance, it was ranked as "critically imperiled because of extreme rarity (five or fewer records of occurrence in the state or less than 1,000 individuals)" as of 2006. In New Mexico and Oklahoma, it was ranked as "Imperiled because of rarity (six to 20 occurrences or less than 3,000 individuals)", also as of 2006. The situation is far different in Texas and Arizona, though; the populations are high enough for the species to be legally harvested throughout the year and is designated as a "fur bearer" by the United States Forest Service.[7]


  1. ^ Cuarón, A.D.; Reid, F. & Helgen, K. (2008). "Conepatus leuconotus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2008. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 27 January 2009.
  2. ^ Eastern Hog-nosed Skunk (Conepatus leuconotus). Retrieved on 2011-09-16.
  3. ^ Western Hog-nosed Skunk Archived 2008-09-20 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on 2011-09-16.
  4. ^ Conepatus leuconotus. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
  5. ^ Dohring, A. 2002. Conepatus leuconotus leuconotus. eastern hog-nosed skunk. Animal Diversity Web
  6. ^ a b c d Dragoo, Jerry W.; Sheffield, Steven R (2009). "Conepatus leuconotus (carnivora: mephitidae)". Mammalian Species. 827: 1. doi:10.1644/827.1.
  7. ^ Meaney, Carron A., Anne K. Ruggles, and Gary P. Beauvais. American Hog-nosed Skunk (Conepatus leuconotus): A Technical Conservation Assessment. Archived 2011-08-17 at the Wayback Machine 21 Dec 2006. Prepared for the USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Region, Species Conservation Project, Accessed 25 Jan 2010.

External links


The genus Arctocephalus consists of fur seals. Arctocephalus translates to "bear head."

Asiatic linsang

The Asiatic linsang (Prionodon) is a genus comprising two species native to Southeast Asia: the banded linsang (Prionodon linsang) and the spotted linsang (Prionodon pardicolor). Prionodon is considered a sister taxon of the Felidae.


Catopuma is a genus containing two Asian small wild cat species, the bay cat (C. badia) and the Asian golden cat (C. temminckii).

Both are typically reddish brown in colour, with darker markings on the head. They inhabit forested environments in Southeast Asia. The bay cat is restricted to the island of Borneo. Originally thought to be two subspecies of the same animal, recent genetic analysis has confirmed they are, indeed, separate species.The two species diverged from one another 4.9-5.3 million years ago, long before Borneo separated from the neighboring islands. Their closest living relative is the marbled cat, from which the common ancestor of the genus Catopuma diverged around 9.4 million years ago.


Crossarchus is a genus of mongoose, commonly referred to as kusimanse (often cusimanse), mangue, or dwarf mongoose. Of three subfamilies of Herpestidae (Herpestinae, Mungotinae and Galidiinae), dwarf mongooses belong to Herpestinae or Mungotinae, which are small, highly social mongooses.


Ferret-badgers are the five species of the genus Melogale, which is the only genus of the monotypic mustelid subfamily Helictidinae.

Bornean ferret-badger (Melogale everetti)

Chinese ferret-badger (Melogale moschata)

Javan ferret-badger (Melogale orientalis)

Burmese ferret-badger (Melogale personata)

Vietnam ferret-badger (Melogale cucphuongensis)

Hog-nosed skunk

The hog-nosed skunks belong to the genus Conepatus and are members of the family Mephitidae (skunks). They are native to the Americas. They have white backs and tails and black underparts.

Indian brown mongoose

The Indian brown mongoose (Herpestes fuscus) looks similar to the short-tailed mongoose from Southeast Asia and is sometimes believed to be only a subspecies of this latter. The Indian brown mongoose is found in southwest India and Sri Lanka.

List of mammals of Colorado

This list of mammals of Colorado lists every wild mammal species seen in the U.S. state of Colorado, based on the list published by the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

It does not include species found only in captivity. Species in this list are grouped by order and then by family within each order. The common name for each species is followed by its binomial name.

The following codes are used to designate some species:

EN - Species is listed as endangered by the IUCN.

NT - Species is listed as near threatened by the IUCN.

EX - Species has been extirpated from Colorado, but can still be found outside the state.


Lutrogale is a genus of otters, with only one extant species—the smooth-coated otter.


Mephitidae is a family of mammals comprising the skunks and stink badgers. They are noted for the great development of their anal scent glands, which they use to deter predators.

There are twelve extant species of mephitids in four genera: Conepatus (hog-nosed skunks, four species); Mephitis (the hooded and striped skunks, two species); Mydaus (stink badgers, two species); and Spilogale (spotted skunks, four species). The two stink badgers in the genus Mydaus inhabit Indonesia and the Philippines; the other members of the family inhabit the Americas, ranging from Canada to central South America. All other mephitids are extinct, known through fossils, including those from Eurasia.Skunks were formerly classified as a subfamily of the Mustelidae (the weasel family); however, recent genetic evidence has caused skunks to be treated as a separate family. Similarly, the stink badgers had been classified with badgers, but genetic evidence shows they share a more recent common ancestor with skunks, so they are now included in the skunk family. In alphabetical order, the living species of Mephitidae are:

Family Mephitidae

Genus: Conepatus

Conepatus chinga – Molina's hog-nosed skunk

Conepatus humboldtii – Humboldt's hog-nosed skunk

Conepatus leuconotus – American hog-nosed skunk

Conepatus semistriatus – striped hog-nosed skunk

Genus: Mephitis

Mephitis macroura – hooded skunk

Mephitis mephitis – striped skunk

Genus: Mydaus

Mydaus javanensis – Indonesian or Sunda stink badger (Teledu)

Mydaus marchei – Palawan stink badger

Genus: Spilogale

Spilogale angustifrons – southern spotted skunk

Spilogale gracilis – western spotted skunk

Spilogale putorius – eastern spotted skunk

Spilogale pygmaea – pygmy spotted skunk


Mustelinae is a subfamily of family Mustelidae, which includes weasels, ferrets amd minks.It was formerly defined in a paraphyletic manner to also include wolverines, martens, and many other mustelids, to the exclusion of the otters (Lutrinae).

Narrow-striped mongoose

The narrow-striped mongoose (Mungotictis decemlineata) is a member of the family Eupleridae, subfamily Galidiinae and endemic to Madagascar. It inhabits the Madagascar dry deciduous forests of western and southwestern Madagascar, where it lives from sea level to about 125 m (410 ft) between the Tsiribihina and Mangoky rivers. In Malagasy it is called bokiboky (pronounced "Boo-ky Boo-ky").


Nyctereutes is an Old World genus of the family Canidae, consisting of just one living species, the raccoon dog of East Asia. Nyctereutes appeared about 9.0 million years ago (Mya), with all but one species becoming extinct before the Pleistocene.

Native to East Asia, the raccoon dog has been intensively bred for fur in Europe and especially in Russia during the twentieth century. Specimens have escaped or have been introduced to increase production and formed populations in Eastern Europe. It is currently expanding rapidly in the rest of Europe, where its presence is undesirable because it is considered to be a harmful and invasive species.


Paradoxurus is a genus within the viverrid family that was denominated and first described by Frédéric Cuvier in 1822. As of 2005, this genus was defined as comprising three species native to Southeast Asia:

the Asian palm civet (P. hermaphroditus)

the golden palm civet (P. zeylonensis)

the brown palm civet (P. jerdoni)In 2009, it was proposed to also include the golden wet-zone palm civet (P. aureus), the Sri Lankan brown palm civet (P. montanus) and the golden dry-zone palm civet (P. stenocephalus), which are endemic to Sri Lanka.

Patagonian weasel

The Patagonian weasel (Lyncodon patagonicus) is a small mustelid that is the only member of the genus Lyncodon. Its geographic range is the Pampas of western Argentina and sections of Chile. An early mention of the animal is in the Journal of Syms Covington, who sailed with Charles Darwin on his epic voyage aboard HMS Beagle.


Pusa is a genus of the earless seals, within the family Phocidae. The three species of this genus were split from the genus Phoca, and some sources still give Phoca as an acceptable synonym for Pusa.

The three species in this genus are found in Arctic and subarctic regions, as well as around the Caspian Sea. This includes these countries and regions: Russia, Scandinavia, Britain, Greenland, Canada, the United States, Iran, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Japan. Due to changing local environmental conditions, the ringed seals found in the Canadian region has varied patterns of growth. The northern Canadian ringed seals grow slowly to a larger size, while the southern seals grow quickly to a smaller size.

Only the Caspian seal is endangered.


Speothos is a genus of canid found in Central and South America. The genus includes the living bush dog, Speothos venaticus, and an extinct Pleistocene species, Speothos pacivorus. Unusually, the fossil species was identified and named before the extant species was discovered, with the result that the type species of Speothos is S. pacivorus.

Western hog-nosed skunk

Recent work has concluded that the western hog-nosed skunk or common hog-nosed skunk (formerly Conepatus mesoleucus) is the same species as the American hog-nosed skunk, and that Conepatus leuconotus is the correct name of the merged populations. This species of hog-nosed skunk is native from the southwestern United States (Arizona to southern Texas) south through Mexico to Nicaragua. In Texas, it is commonly known as the rooter skunk for its habit of rooting and overturning rocks and debris in search of food.

The western hog-nosed skunk is a large skunk averaging about 55–60 cm in total length, with males slightly larger than females. Western hog-nosed skunks have a single, broad white stripe from the top of the head to the base of the tail, with the tail itself being completely white. The rest of the body is black.

This species tends to inhabit rocky foothills and brushy areas where den space is readily available, avoiding hot deserts and forests. It is omnivorous, feeding primarily on insects and vegetation, though it will take small mammals and reptiles when available. While sometimes considered a pest by crop farmers due to their rooting habits, this is largely misplaced, as it generally prefers insects to agricultural plants. Like all skunk species, it possesses powerful anal glands used to deter would-be attackers.

Though not threatened through most of its range, one subspecies, the big thicket hog-nosed skunk (C. m. telmalestes) of southeastern Texas, is now considered extinct by the IUCN.

Extant species of family Mephitidae
Extant Carnivora species

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