Striped skunk

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]

Striped skunk[1]
Striped Skunk (Mephitis mephitis) DSC 0030
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Mephitidae
Genus: Mephitis
Species:
M. mephitis
Binomial name
Mephitis mephitis
(Schreber, 1776)
Map showing North America
Range of Mephitis mephitis

Naming

The English word skunk has two root words of Algonquian and Iroquoian origin, specifically seganku (Abenaki) and scangaresse (Huron).[7][8] The Cree and Ojibwe word shee-gawk is the root word for Chicago, which means 'skunk-land'.[8] Alternative English names for the striped skunk include common skunk,[9] Hudsonian skunk, northern skunk, black-tailed skunk and prairie polecat.[8] The latter name was originally used by English settlers, who noted the animal's similarity to the European polecat. This association likely resulted in the striped skunk's subsequent unfavorable reputation as a poultry thief, despite it being a much less destructive animal than the true polecat.[4] The name "Alaska sable" was employed by furriers during the late 19th century.[10]

Local and indigenous names

Indigenous names for Mephitis mephitis[8]
Linguistic group or area Indigenous name
Abenaki Seganku
Canadian French Enfant du diable
Chinche
Moufette
Bête puante
Chipewyan Nool'-tsee-a
Cree
Ojibwe
Shee-gawk'
Tŝilhqot’in (Chilcotin) Guli
Huron Scangaresse
Ogallala Sioux Mah-kah'
Yankton Sioux Mah-cah

Taxonomy and evolution

The earliest fossil finds attributable to Mephitis were found in the Broadwater site in Nebraska, dating back to the early Pleistocene less than 1.8 million years ago. By the late Pleistocene (70,000–14,500 years ago), the striped skunk was widely distributed throughout the southern United States, and it expanded northwards and westwards by the Holocene (10,000–4,500 years ago) following the retreat of the Wisconsin glacier.[11]

Phylogenetic analyses of the species' cytochrome b gene and microsatellite data in 2012 indicated that there are four phylogroups of striped skunk. The first emerged from the Texas-Mexico region during the Rancholabrean before the Illinoian glaciation and colonized the southeastern United States. The second, still originating in the Texas-Mexico region, expanded westwards to the Rocky Mountains during the Illinoian glacial period. Two subsequent subclades were formed during the Sangamonian interglacial on either side of the Sierra Nevada. The subclade that colonized the Great Basin later expanded eastwards across the northern Rocky Mountains during the Holocene, recolonising the Great Plains and making contact with the southern phylogroup. A similar, but less significant, secondary contact occurred when the same subclade intermingled with members of the eastern phylogroup east of the Mississippi river.[11]

Subspecies

13 subspecies of the striped skunk are generally recognized:[1]

Subspecies Skin Skull Trinomial authority Description Range Synonyms
Canada skunk
M. m. mephitis

(Nominate subspecies)

Revision of the skunks of the genus Chincha (1901) pl. 1 M. m. mephitis.png
Revision of the skunks of the genus Chincha (1901) pl. 5 M. m. mephitis Schreber, 1776 A large subspecies with a short and slender tail and a mixed black and white coat with constant markings.[12] Eastern Canada; Nova Scotia, Quebec, and northern Ontario. americana (Desmarest, 1818), chinche (Fischer, 1829), mephitica (Saw, 1792), vulgaris (F. Cuvier, 1842)
Illinois skunk
M. m. avia
Bangs, 1898 Similar to M. m. mesomelas, but with a slightly larger skull.[12] Prairie region of Illinois, western Indiana, and eastern Iowa. newtonensis Brown, 1908
Florida skunk
M. m. elongata
Revision of the skunks of the genus Chincha (1901) pl. 1 M. m. elongata.png
Bangs, 1895 A medium-sized subspecies with a very long tail. The white markings are usually very broad.[12] Florida to North Carolina, and in the mountains to West Virginia; west on the Gulf coast to the Mississippi River.
Arizona skunk
M. m. estor
Revision of the skunks of the genus Chincha (1901) pl. 2 M. m. estor.png
Revision of the skunks of the genus Chincha (1901) pl. 6 M. m. mesomelas Merriam, 1890 A small subspecies resembling M. m. varians, but with a shorter tail and smaller skull. The white markings are particularly broad along the back and tail.[12] Arizona, western New Mexico, Sonora, Chihuahua, and northern Lower California; south in the Sierra Madre to southern Chihuahua.
Southern California skunk
M. m. holzneri
Revision of the skunks of the genus Chincha (1901) pl. 3 M. m. holzneri.png
Mearns, 1898 Similar to M. m. occidentalis, but smaller.[12] Southern California, from vicinity of Monterey Bay south into Lower California; east to the Sierra Nevada and San Bernardino Range.
Northern plains skunk
M. m. hudsonica
Revision of the skunks of the genus Chincha (1901) pl. 6 M. m. hudsonica Richardson, 1829 A very large subspecies with a heavily furred, medium-sized tail.[12] Western Canada, from Manitoba to British Columbia; south in the United States to Colorado, Nebraska, and Minnesota. americana (Lesson, 1865), chinga (Tiedemann, 1808), minnesotoe (Brass, 1911)
Great Basin skunk
M. m. major
Howell, 1901 Probably the largest subspecies, similar to M. m. occidentalis, but with longer hind feet and a heavier skull.[12] Eastern Oregon, northern California, and Nevada; east to the Wasatch Mountains in Utah.
Louisiana skunk
M. m. mesomelas
Revision of the skunks of the genus Chincha (1901) pl. 2 M. m. mesomelas.png
Revision of the skunks of the genus Chincha (1901) pl. 6 M. m. mesomelas Lichtenstein, 1832 A very small, short-tailed subspecies.[12] West side of Mississippi Valley from southern Louisiana to Missouri; westward along the coast of Texas to Matagorda Island; and up the Red River Valley as far at least as Wichita Falls. mesomeles (Gerrard, 1862)

scrutator (Bangs, 1896)

Eastern skunk
M. m. nigra
Revision of the skunks of the genus Chincha (1901) pl. 5 M. m. mephitis Peale and Palisot de Beauvois, 1796 A medium-sized subspecies, with a longer tail than that of M. m. mephitis.[12] New England and Middle Atlantic States; south to Virginia; west to Indiana. bivirgata (C. E. H. Smith, 1839), dentata (Brass, 1911), fetidissima (Boitard, 1842), frontata (Coues, 1875), olida (Boitard, 1842), putida (Boitard, 1842)
Cascade Mountains skunk
M. m. notata
Revision of the skunks of the genus Chincha (1901) pl. 3 M. m. notata.png
Hall, 1936 Similar to M. m. occidentalis, but with a shorter tail, heavier skull, and narrower stripes.[12] Southern Washington and northern Oregon, east of the Cascade Mountains.
California skunk
M. m. occidentalis
Revision of the skunks of the genus Chincha (1901) pl. 7 M. m. occidentalis Baird, 1858 A large subspecies resembling M. m. hudsonica, but with a longer tail and narrower skull.[12] Northern and central California, from the vicinity of Monterey Bay northward, west of the Sierra and Cascades, to the Willamette Valley, Oregon. notata (Howell, 1901)

platyrhina (Howell, 1901)

Puget Sound skunk
M. m. spissigrada
Revision of the skunks of the genus Chincha (1901) pl. 3 M. m. spissigrada.png
Bangs, 1898 Similar to M. m. occidentalis, but with a shorter tail and more white on the body and tail.[12] Shores of Puget Sound and coastal region of Washington and northern Oregon. foetulenta Elliot, 1899
Texas long-tailed skunk
M. m. varians
Gray, 1837 A large, very long-tailed subspecies whose markings closely approach those of M. m. hudsonica.[12] Southern and western Texas, eastern New Mexico, and adjacent parts of Mexico; north into Oklahoma, Colorado, Kansas, and Nebraska. texana (Low, 1879)

Description

Skunk skull 1
Skull of a striped skunk

The striped skunk is a stoutly-built, short-limbed animal with a small, conical head and a long, heavily furred tail.[9] 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).[7] The feet are plantigrade with bare soles,[7] and are not as broad or flat as those of hog-nosed skunks.[9] The forefeet are armed with five long, curved claws adapted for digging, while those on the hind feet are shorter and straighter.[7]

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.[7] Brown or cream-colored mutations occasionally occur.[8]

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",[8] though Clinton Hart Merriam claimed that it isn't "one tenth" as offensive as that produced by minks and weasels.[10]

Life history

Reproduction and development

The striped skunk is polygamous, and normally breeds once a year, though yearling females who have failed to mate may enter a second estrous cycle a month after the first. The mating season usually occurs between mid-February to mid-April, though it is delayed at higher latitudes. Prior to copulating, the males' testicles swell during the January–February period, with maximum size being attained in March. Males during this period will cover much ground in their search for females, sometimes covering 4 km per night.[7]

When a male locates a female, he will approach her from the rear and lick her genitals, then bite her on the nape before copulating. A single male may have a harem of several females, which he mates with and defends against other males for a period of about 35 days. Once the mating period has finished, the impregnated females confine themselves to their dens, while the males attempt to rebuild their fat reserves.[7]

Striped Skunk
Striped skunk pair

The gestation period lasts around 59–77 days, with kits being born at about mid-May to early June. Litters generally consist of 2–12 kits, though a litter of 18 is known from Pennsylvania. Kits are born blind and sparsely furred, weighing 25–40 grams. The eyes open after around three weeks, and are weaned after 42–56 days.[7] Although their musk is still undeveloped, kits of this age will instinctively assume the defensive stand position when threatened.[8] At this point, the kits may accompany their mother outside the den, becoming independent after 2½ months.[7]

Denning and sheltering behaviors

The striped skunk may dig its own dens, though it will appropriate those abandoned by other animals should the opportunity present itself. These dens are normally used only in late fall, winter, and early spring, while females with unweaned kits make use of them in late spring and summer. In cultivated areas, striped skunks will dig their dens in fencerows, likely because they are less likely to be disturbed by machinery or livestock. In winter it is common for a single den to be occupied by multiple females and a single male.[3] During this period, the striped skunk saves its energy by lowering its body temperature from 38 °C to 32 °C. Although it will forage for short periods in winter, it primarily depends on its fat reserves in cold weather, and can lose as much as 50% of its body weight.[13]

Ecology

Striped Skunk (Mephitis mephitis) 02
Striped skunk in Guelph, Ontario, Canada

Habitat

The striped skunk inhabits a wide variety of habitats, particularly mixed woodlands, brushy corners and open fields interspersed with wooded ravines and rocky outcrops. Some populations, particularly in northwestern Illinois, prefer cultivated areas over uncultivated ones.[3]

Diet

While primarily an insectivore, the striped skunk is adaptable enough to incorporate other animals and even vegetable matter into its diet. The most frequently consumed insects include grasshoppers, beetles, crickets, and caterpillars. In the winter and spring months, the striped skunk will supplement its diet with vertebrates such as white-footed mice, voles, eggs and the chicks of ground nesting birds.[3] Striped skunks inhabiting California's coastal areas will feed on crabs and beached fish.[14] While not adapted for chasing fleet-footed prey, at least one specimen was observed pursuing gray cottontails into their burrows.[8] When in season, the skunk will also consume vegetable matter, such as apples, blueberries, black cherries, ground cherries, corn and nightshade.[3]

Skunk about to spray
Striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis) in defensive posture with erect and puffed tail, indicating that it may be about to spray.

Chemical defense

Like all skunks, the striped skunk possesses two highly developed scent glands, one on each side of the anus, which provides a chemical defense against predation.[15] The 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. If sprayed on the eyes, this compound can cause a temporary burning sensation.[7] Because of its formidable defensive capability, the striped skunk has few natural enemies. Mammalian predators typically avoid skunks, unless they are starving. Such predators include cougars, coyotes, bobcats, badgers, and red and gray foxes. Predatory birds, including golden and bald eagles, and great horned owls tend to have greater success in hunting skunks, though they still risk being blinded by their prey's musk.[3]

Disease

The striped skunk is one of the major carriers of the rabies virus, second only to raccoons in the US where skunks are 25% of annual cases. Skunks are the primary hosts in the north- and south-central US as well as in Canada. Cases of rabies in this species are generally epizootic and recurrent. They are also host for the canine parvovirus and may also suffer from leptospirosis.[16]

Relationships with humans

In culture

The striped skunk is commonly featured in the myths and oral traditions of Native Americans. Some stories try to explain its striped pattern or how it got its smell. Skunks fill various roles in legends and may be featured as heroes, villains, tricksters, or monsters. For the Muscogee people, the skunk represented family loyal and defense of loved ones. The Winnebago people used the skunk to symbolize vanity, being beautiful on the outside but ugly on the inside.[17]

The striped skunk was once called the "emblem of America" by Ernest Thompson Seton. It has been prevalent in modern popular culture, being the subject of various jazz and funk songs like Cab Calloway's Skunk Song and the Breaker Brothers' Some Skunk Funk. The skunk connection in these genres may be due to the term "funk" being a term for strong odor. Skunks are also popular characters in children's stories, comics and cartoons, most notably the Warner Bros character Pepé Le Pew; their musky odor making them a source of fear and ostracization.[17]

Trapping and fur use

Skunks fur skins
Striped skunk peltries

The striped skunk is one of North America's most sought after furbearers, and was once the second most harvested after the muskrat. Its fur is intrinsically valuable, being durable and having rich luster, though this trait decreases with wear and exposure to sunlight. Skunk pelts are divided into four grades, with the most prized being the ones with a greater amount of black. These grades are further subdivided in value according to their locality, with the most valuable occurring in northern regions, where the fur is finer and darker.[4] Skunks are notable for being easy to trap, even approaching traps they had been previously caught in. Because skunks are difficult to kill without having them discharge their musk (and thus ruin their fur) they were typically dispatched with a paralyzing blow to the lower back or drowned if caught in a box trap.[8]

Skunk farming largely began during the late 1890s, when there was much foreign demand for their skins, and intensive trapping had largely extirpated the more valuable mostly black-colored specimens. Captive breeding of skunks proved relatively simple when compared to mink and marten farming, as skunks are easier to tame and have less specialized dietary needs.[4] Emphasis was placed on selectively breeding the tamest and darkest colored skunks.[8] Prior to the First World War, skunk pelts were primarily shipped to Europe until better methods of deodorizing and processing the skins lead to increased interest in selling them for North American consumption.[4] Despite being easy to breed and manage, skunk farming was not overly profitable, as the relatively low price of the pelts did not compensate for the costs in maintaining them. Nevertheless, raising skunks was considered good practice for amateur fur farmers wishing to later move on to more valuable furbearers like martens, sable, mink and silver foxes.[8]

Other uses

Skunk being cuddled
A tame skunk being cuddled.

The striped skunk was regularly eaten by trappers and indigenous peoples, provided the animal was not too old or had not sprayed before being killed.[8] American zoologist Clinton Hart Merriam described skunk meat as white, tender, sweet and more delicate than chicken.[10] The meat was prized by Chinese immigrants, who also bought skunk gall bladders for medicinal purposes.[14] The fat was once reputed to make an excellent lubricant.[8] The musk was once used as a folk remedy for asthma, despite its very strong odor.[9]

Taming

The striped skunk is easily tamed and was often kept in barns to kill rats and mice during the 19th century.[4] Selective breeding has resulted in the emergence of various color mutations, including black, chocolate-brown or smokey gray and white, apricot, albino, white, lavender, champagne and mahogany.[5]

References

  1. ^ a b Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M., eds. (2005). Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
  2. ^ a b Reid, F. & Helgen, K. (2008). "Mephitis mephitis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2009.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 2010-01-18.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Wade-Smith, J. & Verts, B. J. (1982). "Mephitis mephitis" (PDF). Mammalian Species 173 : 1–7.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Lantz, D. E. (1923). Economic value of North American skunks. Washington, D.C. : U.S. Dept. of Agriculture
  5. ^ a b Cipriani, D. (2011) "Skunks are affectionate, intelligent pets for owners who offer the proper care." Critters USA. pp. 2-6
  6. ^ Feinstein, J. (2011). Field Guide to Urban Wildlife. Stackpole Books. p. 67. ISBN 0811705854
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Rosatte, R. & Lawson, S. (2003). Skunks. In G. Feldhamer, B. Thompson, & J. Chapman (Eds., Wild Mammals of North America; biology, management and conservation (2nd ed.) Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 692-707.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Seton, E. T. (1909). Life-histories of northern animals : an account of the mammals of Manitoba. New York City: Scribner. pp. 966-994
  9. ^ a b c d Coues, E. (1877). Fur-bearing animals: a monograph of North American Mustelidae, in which an account of the wolverene, the martens or sables, the ermine, the mink and various other kinds of weasels, several species of skunks, the badger, the land and sea otters, and numerous exotic allies of these animals, is contributed to the history of North American mammals. Geological and Geographical Survey of the Territories (U.S.). pp. 195-235.
  10. ^ a b c d Merriam, C. H. (1886). The mammals of the Adirondack region, northeastern New York. New York : Henry Holt and Co. pp. 69-87.
  11. ^ a b Barton, H. D., and S. M. Wisely. 2012. Phylogeography of striped skunks (Mephitis mephitis) in North America: Pleistocene dispersal and contemporary population structure. Journal of Mammalogy 93(1):38-51.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Howell, A. H. (1901). Revision of the skunks of the genus Chincha. U. S. Department of Agriculture. Washington, Government Printing Office.
  13. ^ Kurta, A. (1995). Mammals of the Great Lakes Region. University of Michigan Press. p. 246. ISBN 0472064975
  14. ^ a b Ingles, L. G. (1947). Mammals of California. Stanford University Press. pp. 69-76 . ISBN 080471195X
  15. ^ Berenbaum, M. R. (1995-01-03). "The chemistry of defense: theory and practice". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 92 (1): 2–8. doi:10.1073/pnas.92.1.2. ISSN 0027-8424. PMID 7816816.
  16. ^ Newman, C.; Byrne, A. W. (2018). "Musteloid diseases: implications for conservation and species management". In Macdonald, D. W.; Newman, C.; Harrington, L. A. Biology and Conservation of Musteloids. Oxford University Press. p. 249. ISBN 978-0198759805.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: Uses editors parameter (link)
  17. ^ a b Miller, Alyce L. (2015). Skunk. Reaktion Books LDT. pp. 97, 134–146, 117–121. ISBN 9781780234908.

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.

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 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. 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). 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). Skull length is 43–55 mm (1.7–2.2 in). The Eastern spotted skunk is a very small skunk, which (for comparison sake) is no larger than a good-sized tree squirrel.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.

Fauna of Florida

Florida is host to many types of fauna

Marine mammals: bottlenose dolphin, short-finned pilot whale, North Atlantic right whale, West Indian manatee

Mammals: Florida panther, northern river otter, mink, eastern cottontail rabbit, marsh rabbit, raccoon, striped skunk, squirrel, white-tailed deer, Key deer, bobcats, red fox, gray fox, coyote, wild boar, Florida black bear, nine-banded armadillos, Virginia opossum

Reptiles: eastern diamondback and pygmy rattlesnakes, gopher tortoise, green and leatherback sea turtles, and eastern indigo snake. In 2012, there were about one million American alligators and 1,500 crocodiles.

Birds: peregrine falcon, bald eagle, American flamingo, northern caracara, snail kite, osprey, white and brown pelicans, sea gulls, whooping and sandhill cranes, roseate spoonbill, American white ibis, Florida scrub jay (state endemic), and others. One subspecies of wild turkey, Meleagris gallopavo, namely subspecies osceola, is found only in Florida. The state is a wintering location for many species of eastern North American birds.

As a result of climate change, there have been small numbers of several new species normally native to cooler areas to the north: snowy owls, snow buntings, harlequin ducks, and razorbills. These have been seen in the northern part of the state.Invertebrates: carpenter ants, termites, American cockroach, Africanized bees, the Miami blue butterfly, and the grizzled mantis. There are 29 species or subspecies of Bees that are endemic within the state of Florida and are not believed to occur anywhere else in the world, including 21 types of pollinators and 8 parasitic species of Bees.Florida also has more than 500 nonnative animal species and 1,000 nonnative insects found throughout the state. Some exotic species living in Florida include the Burmese python, green iguana, veiled chameleon, Argentine black and white tegu, peacock bass, mayan cichlid, lionfish, White-nosed coati, rhesus macaque, vervet monkey, Cuban tree frog, cane toad, Indian peafowl, monk parakeet, tui parakeet, and many more. Some of these nonnative species do not pose a threat to any native species, but some do threaten the native species of Florida by living in the state and eating them.The only known calving area for the northern right whale is off the coasts of Florida and Georgia.The native bear population has risen from a historic low of 300 in the 1970s, to 3,000 in 2011.Six of Red deer were released on Buck Island Breeding Ranch in Highlands County in 1967 or 1968. The herd increased to less than 30 animals. In 1993, 10 animals were seen in the area, and small numbers have been sighted subsequently in the same area.In Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park, The plains bison were reintroduced to the park from the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in 1975, as part of the park service goal of restoring Florida's natural resources to pre-European settler conditions; they roamed this area until the late 18th century. When bison sightings occur, they usually appear along the Cone's Dike trail. The herd was reduced from thirty-five to seven individuals in the mid-1980s after an outbreak of Brucellosis. In the late 1990s, the herd was again reduced after inbreeding concerns. The buffalo herd reached a peak of 70 animals in 2011. The park began culling excessive animals in 2012, allowing a target population of about 8 to 10 bison to be free to roam the Florida prairie.The American flamingo was also found in South Florida, which was likely the northernmost extent of its distribution.

The study also indicated that these flamingos may be increasing in population and reclaiming their lost land. Large flocks of flamingos are still known to visit Florida from time to time, most notably in 2014, when a very large flock of over 147 flamingos temporarily stayed at Stormwater Treatment Area 2, on Lake Okeechobee, with a few returning the following year.. From a distance, untrained eyes can also confuse it with the roseate spoonbill.Since their accidental importation from South America into North America in the 1930s, the red imported fire ant population has increased its territorial range to include most of the southern United States, including Florida. They are more aggressive than most native ant species and have a painful sting.A number of non-native snakes and lizards have been released in the wild. In 2010, the state created a hunting season for Burmese and Indian pythons, African rock pythons, green anacondas, yellow anacondas, common boas, and Nile monitor lizards. Green iguanas have also established a firm population in the southern part of the state. Due to a combination of events, the green iguana is considered an invasive species in South Florida and is found along the east coast as well as the Gulf Coast of Florida from Key West to Pinellas County.There are about 500,000 feral pigs in Florida.

Fauna of the United States

The fauna of the United States of America is all the animals living in the Continental United States and its surrounding seas and islands, the Hawaiian Archipelago, Alaska in the Arctic, and several island-territories in the Pacific and in the Caribbean. The U.S. has many distinctive indigenous species found nowhere else on Earth. With most of the North American continent, the U.S. lies in the Nearctic faunistic realm, a region containing an assemblage of species similar to northern parts of Africa and Eurasia.An estimated 432 species of mammals characterize the fauna of the continental U.S. There are more than 800 species of bird and more than 100,000 known species of insects. There are 311 known reptiles, 295 amphibians and 1154 known fish species in the U.S. Known animals that exist in all of the lower 48 states include white-tailed deer, bobcat, raccoon, muskrat, striped skunk, barn owl, American mink, American beaver, North American river otter and red fox. The red-tailed hawk is one of the most widely distributed hawks not only in the U.S., but in the Americas.

Huge parts of the country with the most distinctive indigenous wildlife are protected as national parks. In 2013, the U.S. had more than 6770 national parks or protected areas, all together more than 1,006,619 sq. miles (2,607,131 km2). The first national park was Yellowstone National Park in the state of Wyoming, established in 1872. Yellowstone National Park is widely considered to be the finest megafauna wildlife habitat in the U.S. There are 67 species of mammals in the park, including the gray wolf, the threatened lynx, and the grizzly bear.

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".

List of fictional mustelids in animation

The following list of fictional mustelids in animation is subsidiary to the list of fictional mustelids. This list is limited solely to notable non-badger characters and non-raccoons that appear in animated works and that are of a species included in the superfamily of carnivoran mammals, musteloidea. This includes weasels, ferrets, minks, otters, martens, red pandas, and skunks.

All fictional badgers are found within the list of fictional badgers.

All fictional raccoons are found within the list of fictional raccoons.

McFaddin and Texas Point National Wildlife Refuges

The McFaddin and Texas Point National Wildlife Refuges are located in proximity in southern Jefferson County on the upper Texas coast at Sabine Pass. The refuges have a combined 105.96 square miles (274.4 km2) of fish and wildlife habitat. McFaddin, much the larger one, located at around 29°40′00″N 94°09′00″W, has a total area of 58,861.43 acres (238.20 km²), while the smaller Texas Point, located at around 29°42′00″N 93°53′00″W, has 8,952.02 acres (36.23 km²).Texas Point and McFaddin refuges supply important feeding and resting habitat for migrating and wintering populations of waterfowl using the Central Flyway. Feeding flocks of snow geese have exceeded 70,000 birds at McFaddin.

Dozens of migratory bird species use habitat on both refuges to feed, rest, nest and raise their young. McFaddin contains one of the densest populations of American alligators in Texas. Alligators are most easily seen during the spring, but are often visible throughout the summer and fall.

Mammal species native to Texas include the muskrat, North American river otter, American mink, raccoon, striped skunk, Virginia opossum, nine-banded armadillo, gray fox and bobcat.

Large portions of both refuges are tidally influenced, creating estuarine environments important to a variety of fish, shrimp and crabs, as well as other life forms higher on the food chain that feed on such organisms. These estuaries are productive communities and are vital to the life cycle of many marine species. Some of the more commonly sought after fish found in refuge waters include red drum, flounder, alligator gar and blue catfish.

Located on the coast, Sea Rim State Park borders McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge.

Meduxnekeag River

The Meduxnekeag River ( mə-DUKS-nə-keg) is a tributary of the Saint John River. It is about 35 miles (56 km) long. The North Branch Meduxnekeag River rises from the outlet of a small pond (46°21′40″N 68°03′18″W) in Maine and runs to its confluence with the Meduxnekeag in Wakefield, New Brunswick. The South Branch Meduxnekeag River rises from the outflow of Johnson Pond (46°02′07″N 67°55′16″W) in Linneus, and runs to its confluence with the Meduxnekeag River two miles upstream from Houlton, Maine. The Meduxnekeag joins the Saint John in Woodstock, New Brunswick.

The earliest mention of the name is in the narrative of John Gyles. He states that in 1689 he visited a branch of the St. John river about ten miles to a branch called Medeockseenecasis. The suffix "asis" is a diminutive so it is possible that the name is a form of Little Meductic. The current spelling was first seen in 1840.In New Brunswick, the watershed of the Meduxnekeag is home to the richest, most diverse, and highest concentration of remnant sites of mature Appalachian Hardwood Forest in Atlantic Canada, containing many understorey plants rare or uncommon in the province. These include black raspberry, wild ginger, maidenhair fern, showy orchis, wild coffee, and numerous others. The non-profit Meduxnekeag River Association Inc., based in Woodstock, has purchased, since 1998, approximately 2.25 square kilometres (500 acres) of forest, with more than 6 km (3.7 mi) of undeveloped shoreline. This Meduxnekeag Valley Nature Preserve has more than 10 km (6.2 mi) of well-marked, low impact walking trails.

Animals commonly found in the watershed include the moose, white-tailed deer, black bear, eastern coyote, red fox, raccoon, beaver, eastern chipmunk, striped skunk, red squirrel, snowshoe hare, mink, weasels, porcupine, and various mice, voles, and shrews.Significant sections of the Meduxnekeag are easy to canoe or kayak in high or medium water conditions (generally in May and June, and in September and October; also in July/August in wet summers). Annual canoe races are held in both Maine and New Brunswick in May. Recreational canoeists traditionally put in just below the bridge on the North Branch (just above the confluence) and take out in downtown Woodstock, a half-day canoe depending on lingering time, passing through scenic, mostly forested country. The final 2 km before Woodstock is through an extensive wetland.

The intervales and islands of the Meduxnekeag are locally celebrated for the edible fiddlehead ostrich fern, harvested in May.

Mephitidae

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.

Navajo State Park

Navajo State Park is a state park of Colorado, USA, on the north shore of Navajo Lake. Touted as Colorado's answer to Lake Powell, this reservoir on the San Juan River begins in Colorado's San Juan Mountains and extends 20 miles (32 km) into New Mexico. Its area is 15,000 acres (6,100 ha), and it has 150 miles (240 km) of shoreline in two states. Park activities include boating, houseboating, fishing, camping, and wildlife viewing. There is a New Mexico state park at the southern end of the lake.

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.

Pepé Le Pew

Pepé Le Pew is a character from the Warner Bros. Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series of cartoons, first introduced in 1945. Depicted as a French striped skunk, Pepé is constantly in search of love and appreciation. However, his offensive skunk odor and his aggressive pursuit of romance typically cause other characters to run from him.

Salinas River National Wildlife Refuge

Salinas River National Wildlife Refuge is located approximately 11 miles north of Monterey, California, and 3 miles south of Castroville, California, at the point where the Salinas River empties into Monterey Bay. The 367-acre (1.49 km2) refuge encompasses several habitat types including sand dunes, pickleweed salt marsh, river lagoon, riverine habitat, and a saline pond. The refuge was established in 1974 because of its "particular value in carrying out the national migratory bird management program."The area provides habitat for several threatened and endangered species, including the California brown pelican, Smith's blue butterfly, the western snowy plover, the Monterey sand gilia, and the Monterey spineflower. The refuge is used by a variety of migratory birds during breeding, wintering, and migrating periods. Refuge mammals include muskrat, golden beaver, gray fox, red fox, striped skunk, longtail weasel, Virginia opossum, vagrant shrew, broad-footed mole, brush rabbit, raccoon, duskyfooted woodrat, deer mouse, and coyote.Salinas River National Wildlife Refuge is open to the public though there are no facilities beyond a parking lot and footpaths.

Dogs, horseback riding, and camping are not permitted due to the sensitivity of the habitat.

Skunk

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.

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.

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.

Thiol

Thiol () is an organosulfur compound of the form R-SH, where R represents an alkyl or other organic substituent. Thiols are the sulfur analogue of alcohols (that is, sulfur takes the place of oxygen in the hydroxyl group of an alcohol), and the word is a portmanteau of "thion" + "alcohol," with the first word deriving from Greek θεῖον (theion) = "sulfur". The –SH functional group itself is referred to as either a thiol group or a sulfhydryl group.

Many thiols have strong odors resembling that of garlic or rotten eggs. Thiols are used as odorants to assist in the detection of natural gas (which in pure form is odorless), and the "smell of natural gas" is due to the smell of the thiol used as the odorant. Thiols are sometimes referred to as mercaptans. The term "mercaptan" was introduced in 1832 by William Christopher Zeise and is derived from the Latin mercurium captāns (capturing mercury) because the thiolate group (RS-) bonds very strongly with mercury compounds.

Western spotted skunk

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

Extant species of family Mephitidae
Conepatus
Mydaus
Mephitis
Spilogale
Extant Carnivora species

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