Eastern spotted skunk

The eastern spotted skunk (Spilogale putorius) is a small, relatively slender skunk found throughout the eastern United States and in small areas of Canada and Mexico.


This small skunk is more weasel-like in body shape than the more familiar striped skunk. The eastern spotted skunk has four stripes on its back[2] which are broken in pattern, giving it a "spotted" appearance. They have a white spot on their forehead. They are found in Canada (southeast Manitoba and northwestern Ontario), the United States and northeastern Mexico.[1] Males, at 46.3–68.8 cm (18.2–27.1 in) in total length, are large than females, at 35–54.4 cm (13.8–21.4 in).[2] The tail accounts for roughly a third of their total length. Body mass can range from 0.2 to 1.8 kg (0.44 to 3.97 lb), with males averaging around 700 g (1.5 lb) against the female's average of 450 g (0.99 lb).[3] Skull length is 43–55 mm (1.7–2.2 in).[4] The Eastern spotted skunk is a very small skunk, which (for comparison sake) is no larger than a good-sized tree squirrel.[2][5]

They are much more active than any other type of skunk. They have mostly the same predators as any other skunk (big cats, bobcats, owls, humans, etc.). Up to eight skunks may share an underground den in the winter. They can also climb and take shelter in trees.

Eastern spotted skunks seem to prefer forest edges and upland prairie grasslands, especially where rock outcrops and shrub clumps are present. In western counties, it relies heavily on riparian corridors where woody shrubs and woodland edges are present. Woody fencerows, odd areas, and abandoned farm buildings are also important habitat for Eastern Spotted Skunks.

Spilogale putorius (Spotted skunk) fur skin
Fur skin of Spilogale putorius
Eastern spotted skunk
Spilogale putorius (2)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Mephitidae
Genus: Spilogale
S. putorius
Binomial name
Spilogale putorius
Map showing North America
Range of Spilogale putorius

Viverra putorius Linnaeus, 1758


Spilogale putorius possess a small weasel-like body with fine, dense black fur that has 4 to 6 broken, white stripes.[6] Two of the stripes are located at the median of the body and four stripes are placed on the side running from the back of the head to the rear. White markings are present on both cheeks, as well as on the tip of the tail. This is known as an aposematic fur pattern and is thought to act as a warning to predators.

The typical body length of eastern spotted skunks is 24 to 26 centimetres (9.4 to 10.2 in) with a tail length from 11 to 19 centimetres (4.3 to 7.5 in), resulting in a total length of 35 to 45 centimetres (14 to 18 in). The feet are 40 to 53 millimetres (1.6 to 2.1 in) long, and the forefeet have claws approximately 7 millimetres (0.28 in) long, while the hind feet have claws that are around 3.5 centimetres (1.4 in). The feet are equipped with pads on the soles that aid in climbing. The large claws of the forefeet help the skunk dig and grasp prey. The total body weight of adults ranges from 400 to 965 grams (14.1 to 34.0 oz).


Eastern spotted skunks are quite secretive and crafty creatures, and it is a rarity for humans to see them. They are also nocturnal and tend to be more active during dry cool nights rather than warm wet nights. Although these skunks do not hibernate, they do tend to greatly reduce their activity when enduring intensely warm summers or very cold winters.[6] Generally speaking, out of the four species, S. putorius is the most active. They are also more agile and vigilant than the other skunks dwelling in North America.

In addition to performing a handstand before spraying a potential predator, the skunk also performs foot stamping, which involves the skunk stamping its feet on the ground in order to warn an approaching predator. The stamping can be heard for several meters away and is usually followed by the skunk spraying its odorous solution. When these skunks encounter an egg that they want to eat they will straddle the egg with their front legs and bite the egg open. If this fails they will then proceed to use their front legs to push the egg back and kick it with one of their hind legs.[6]


Eastern spotted skunks breed mostly in the later winter months and give birth in late Spring to early Summer. On average the female skunk will give birth to 4–5 baby skunks (kits) at a time. It takes twelve weeks before newborn skunks will become fully developed into adult skunks and two months before they develop skunk musk to use as self-defense.


The Eastern Spotted skunk has seen sharp declines in populations from several states, particularly those in the Midwest, like Minnesota and Wisconsin for example. The exact reason behind the decrease in numbers is not known, which is puzzling considering the species was very quick to adapt to human settlement, and was commonly trapped up until the second half of the 20th century. Before then, they were frequently seen on farmlands, and were known to dig burrows under the sides of barns and prey on mice that were attracted to stored grains. In Minnesota, after a peak in the number of reported trapped specimen in 1949, during which over 19,400 spotted skunks were taken in that year alone, yearly reports of trapped spotted skunks in that state sharply fell in the following years. Pesticide use, modernization of farming techniques, over-trapping and consolidation of barns and other man-made structures are all believed to have had a negative effect on eastern spotted skunk populations; as a result, it has become possibly eradicated from several midwestern states, and on the whole is declining in that region. In is also declining in parts of the eastern US. Where it is not declining, the eastern spotted skunk is uncommon, although it remains common in Southern Florida.


  1. ^ a b Cuarón, A.D.; Reid, F. & Helgen, K. (2008). "Spilogale putorius". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2008. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 27 January 2009.
  2. ^ a b c John O. Whitaker Jr. (30 July 2010). Mammals of Indiana: A Field Guide. Indiana University Press. p. 1. ISBN 978-0-253-22213-8. Retrieved 23 November 2011.
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-12-07. Retrieved 2012-04-02.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ Hunter, Luke (2011). Carnivores of the World. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-15228-8.
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ a b c Bullock, Lindsay (December 2008). "Mammals of Mississippi". Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

External links

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

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.

Hooded skunk

The hooded skunk (Mephitis macroura) is a species of mammal in the family Mephitidae. Mephītis in Latin means "foul odor", μακρός (makrós) in Greek translates to "long" and οὐρά (ourá) translates to "tail".

Humboldt's hog-nosed skunk

Humboldt's hog-nosed skunk, also known as the Patagonian hog-nosed skunk (Conepatus humboldtii) is a type of hog-nosed skunk indigenous to the open grassy areas in the Patagonian regions of Argentina and Chile. It belongs to the order Carnivora and the family Mephitidae.

List of mammals of Missouri

This is a list of known mammals in Missouri, United States.


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

Mammalia in the 10th edition of Systema Naturae

The Mammalia in the 10th edition of Systema Naturae forms one of six classes of animals in Carl Linnaeus's tenth reformed edition written in Latin.

The following explanations are based on William Turton's translations who rearranged and corrected earlier editions published by Johann Friedrich Gmelin, Johan Christian Fabricius and Carl Ludwig Willdenow:

Animals that suckle their young by means of lactiferous teats. In external and internal structure they resemble man: most of them are quadrupeds; and with man, their natural enemy, inhabit the surface of the Earth. The largest, though fewest in number, inhabit the ocean.

Linnaeus divided the mammals based upon the number, situation, and structure of their teeth; mammals have the following characteristics: Heart: two auricles, 2 ventricles. Warm, dark red blood; Lungs: respires alternately; Jaw: incombent, covered. Teeth usually within jaw; Teats: lactiferous; Organs of sense: tongue, nostrils, eyes, ears, and papillae of the skin; Covering: hair, which is scanty in warm climates, hardly any on aquatics; Supports: four feet, except in aquatics; and in most a tail. Walks on the Earth and speaks.Oldfield Thomas scrutinized Linnaeus's chapter on mammals in 1911 and attempted to find missing type species and type localities.


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

Mephitis (genus)

The genus Mephitis is one of several genera of skunks, which has two species and a North American distribution.

Molina's hog-nosed skunk

Molina’s hog-nosed skunk, Conepatus chinga, is similar to the common skunk with scent glands used to spray an odorous liquid to offend potential predators. They have a resistance to pit viper venom, distinct thin white markings and a pink, hog-like, fleshy nose.

Palawan stink badger

The Palawan stink badger (Mydaus marchei), or pantot, is a carnivoran of the western Philippines named for its resemblance to badgers, its powerful smell, and the largest island to which it is native, Palawan. Like all stink badgers, the Palawan stink badger was once thought to share a more recent common ancestor with badgers than with skunks. Recent genetic evidence, however, has led to their re-classification as one of the Mephitidae, the skunk family of mammals. It is the size of a large skunk or small badger, and uses its badger-like body to dig by night for invertebrates in open areas near patches of brush. While it lacks the whitish dorsal patches typical of its closest relatives, predators and hunters generally avoid the powerful noxious chemicals it can spray from the specialized anal glands characteristic of mephitids.

Pygmy spotted skunk

The pygmy spotted skunk (Spilogale pygmaea) is a species of mammal in the family Mephitidae. It is endemic to Mexico.


Skunks are North and South American mammals in the family Mephitidae. While related to polecats and other members of the weasel family, the closest Old World relatives of skunks are the stink badgers. The animals are known for their ability to spray a liquid with a strong, unpleasant smell. Different species of skunk vary in appearance from black-and-white to brown, cream or ginger colored, but all have warning coloration.

Southern spotted skunk

The southern spotted skunk (Spilogale angustifrons) is a species of mammal in the skunk family, (Mephitidae). It ranges from Costa Rica to southern Mexico. At one time this skunk was considered to be a subspecies of the eastern spotted skunk (Spilogale pusorius).

Spotted skunk

The genus Spilogale includes all skunks commonly known as spotted skunks and is composed of four extant species: S. gracilis, S. putorius, S. pygmaea, S. angustifrons.

Stink badger

Stink badgers (Mydaus) are a genus of the skunk family of carnivorans, the Mephitidae. They resemble the better know members of family Mustelidae also termed 'badgers' (which are themselves a polyphyletic group). There are only two extant species - the Palawan stink badger (M. marchei), and the Sunda stink badger or Teledu (M. javanensis). They live only on western islands of the Malay Archipelago: Sumatra, Java, Borneo and (in the case of the Palawan stink badger) on the Philippine island of Palawan; as well as many other, smaller islands in the region.

Stink badgers are named for their resemblance to other badgers and for the foul-smelling secretions that they expel from anal glands in self-defense (which is stronger in the Sunda species).Stink badgers were traditionally thought to be related to Eurasian badgers in the subfamily Melinae of the weasel family of carnivorans (the Mustelidae), but recent DNA analysis indicates they share a more recent common ancestor with skunks, so experts have now placed them in the skunk family (the Mephitidae, which is the sister group of a clade composed of Mustelidae and Procyonidae, with the red panda also assigned to one of the sister clades). The two existing species are different enough from each other for the Palawan stink badger to be sometimes classified in its own genus, Suillotaxus.

Striped hog-nosed skunk

The striped hog-nosed skunk, Conepatus semistriatus, is a skunk species from Central and South America (from southern Mexico to northern Peru, and in the extreme east of Brazil). It lives in a wide range of habitats including dry forest scrub and occasionally, in rainforest.These white-backed skunks inhabit mainly the foothills and partly timbered or brushy sections of their general range. They usually avoid hot desert areas and heavy stands of timber. The largest populations occur in rocky, sparsely timbered areas.

It is a nocturnal solitary animal, feeding mainly on invertebrates, small vertebrates and fruits.

Sunda stink badger

The Sunda stink badger (Mydaus javanensis), also called the Javan stink badger, teledu, Malay stink badger, Malay badger, Indonesian stink badger and Sunda skunk, is a mammal native to Indonesia and Malaysia. Despite the common name, stink badgers are not closely related to true badgers, and are, instead, Old World relatives of the skunks.

Western spotted skunk

The western spotted skunk (Spilogale gracilis) is a spotted skunk of western North America

Extant species of family Mephitidae
Extant Carnivora species

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