Western spotted skunk

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

Western spotted skunk[1]
Spilogale gracilis
Spilogale gracilis
Spilogale gracilis amphiala
Spilogale gracilis amphiala
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Mephitidae
Genus: Spilogale
Species:
S. gracilis
Binomial name
Spilogale gracilis
(Merriam, 1890)
Western Spotted Skunk area
Western spotted skunk range

Description

With a total length of 35–45 cm (14–18 in), the western spotted skunk is smaller than the striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis). Males, which weigh 336 to 734 g (11.9 to 25.9 oz), are significantly heavier than females, at 227 to 482 g (8.0 to 17.0 oz), but only about 6% longer, on average. The adult is boldly striped black and creamy white, with three longitudinal stripes on each side of the front part of the body, and three vertical stripes on the hind-parts. One pair of longitudinal stripes runs either side of the spine, with the second pair running over the shoulders, and extending forward onto the face. The third pair is lower over the shoulders, and curves downward at the middle of the body to form the first pair of vertical stripes. Behind this, the second pair of vertical stripes rise from the knees to the rump, while the final stripes are often little more than spots.[3]

The ears are short and rounded, while the face is marked with a white spot between the eyes, and a white patch below each ear. The animal has a conspicuously large, long-haired tail, measuring 10 to 16 cm (3.9 to 6.3 in). The hair on the tail is mostly black, but is white at the tip, and sometimes also on the upper surface. The claws on the fore-feet are longer, and more curved, than those on the hind feet.[3]

As with other related species, western spotted skunks possess a pair of large musk glands that open just inside the anus, and which can spray their contents through muscular action. The musk is similar to that of striped skunks, but contains 2-phenylethanethiol as an additional component, and lacks some of the compounds produced by the other species. These differences are said to give western spotted skunk musk a more pungent odor, but not to spread as widely as that of striped skunks.[3]

Distribution and habitat

Spilogale gracilis skeleton
Skeleton of Spilogale gracilis.

The western spotted skunk is found throughout the western United States, northern Mexico, and southwestern British Columbia. Their habitat is mixed woodlands, open areas, and farmlands.

Behavior and biology

Western spotted skunks are nocturnal omnivores, feeding on insects, small vertebrates, such as mice and lizards, and berries. Common insects eaten include beetles and caterpillars.[4] Golden eagles are among their few predators.[5] They spend the day in dens, and are usually solitary, although sometimes two or three females will share a single burrow.[3]

When threatened, western spotted skunks display threat behavior, stamping their fore-feet before raising their hind parts in the air and showing their conspicuous warning coloration. While they can spray by standing on their forelegs and raising their hindlegs and tail in the air, they more commonly do so with all four feet on the ground, bending their body around so that both their head and their tail face the attacker.[3][6]

Western spotted skunks typically breed in September, although both sexes remain fertile for several months thereafter if they fail to breed early.[7] After fertilisation, the embryo develops to the blastocyst stage, but then becomes dormant for several months before implanting in the uterine wall around April. Including this period of delayed implantation, gestation lasts 230 to 250 days,[8] with the litter of two to five young being born in May.[7] At birth, the young are blind and almost hairless, weighing around 11 g (0.39 oz).[9] Western spotted skunks have lived for almost ten years in captivity.[10]

Taxonomy and etymology

The western spotted skunk was first described by Clinton Hart Merriam in 1890;[11] its specific name, gracilis, is derived from the Latin for "slender".[3] Although it was thought for years to be conspecific with the eastern spotted skunk (S. putorius), the presence of delayed implantation in the western spotted skunk clearly sets it apart.[12]

Subspecies

Seven subspecies are generally recognized:[1]

References

  1. ^ a b Wozencraft, W.C. (2005). "Order Carnivora". In Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M. Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 623. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
  2. ^ Cuarón, A.D.; Reid, F. & Helgen, K. (2008). "Spilogale gracilis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2008. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 27 January 2009.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Verts, B.J.; Carraway, L.N. & Kinlaw, A. (2001). "Spilogale gracilis". Mammalian Species: Number 674: pp. 1–10. doi:10.1644/1545-1410(2001)674<0001:SG>2.0.CO;2.
  4. ^ Baker, R.H. & Baker, M.W. (1975). "Montane habitat used by the spotted skunk (Spilogale putorius) in Mexico". Journal of Mammalogy. 56 (3): 671–673. doi:10.2307/1379480.
  5. ^ von Bloeker, J.C. (1937). "Mammal remains from detritus of raptorial birds in California". Journal of Mammalogy. 18 (3): 360–361. doi:10.2307/1374214.
  6. ^ Crooks, K.R. & Van Vuren, D. (1995). "Resource utilization by two insular endemic mammalian carnivores, the island fox and island spotted skunk". Oecologia. 104 (3): 301–307. doi:10.1007/BF00328365.
  7. ^ a b Mead, R.A. (1968). "Reproduction in western forms of the spotted skunk (genus Spilogale)". Journal of Mammalogy. 49 (3): 373–390. doi:10.2307/1378196.
  8. ^ Foreman, K.R. & Mead, R.A. (1973). "Duration of post-implantation in a western subspecies of the spotted skunk (Spilogale putorius)". Journal of Mammalogy. 54 (2): 521–523. doi:10.2307/1379146.
  9. ^ Constantine, D.G. (1968). "Gestation period in the spotted skunk". Journal of Mammalogy. 42 (3): 421–422. doi:10.2307/1377064.
  10. ^ Egoscue, H.J.; Bittmein, J.G. & Petrovich, J.A. (1970). "Some fecundity and longevity records for captive small mammals". Journal of Mammalogy. 51 (3): 622–623. doi:10.2307/1378407.
  11. ^ ITIS Report. "ITIS Standard Report: Spilogale gracilis". Retrieved December 8, 2007.
  12. ^ Smithsonian: National Museum of Natural History. "North American Mammals: Spilogale gracilis". Retrieved December 8, 2007.

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.

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.

Channel Islands spotted skunk

The Channel Island spotted skunk (Spilogale gracilis amphiala) is an insular endemic carnivore and a subspecies of the western spotted skunk (Spilogale gracilis). Little is known about their exact variations from the mainland spotted skunk and variations between locations, resolution of which awaits further genetic and morphologic evaluation. The skunk is only currently found on two islands off the southern coast of California (Santa Cruz Island, and Santa Rosa Island, where its occurrence was once thought to be rare but recently experienced a population surge in the 1990s). Its presence has been recorded on San Miguel Island, but it has since been declared extinct in that area. The Channel Island skunk is one of two terrestrial carnivores on the islands, the other being the island fox. It is designated as a species of special concern by the state of California.

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.

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.

Lutrogale

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

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.

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.

S. gracilis

S. gracilis may refer to:

Sageretia gracilis, a shrub species with slightly shiny dark green leaves and yellow-green flowers

Sarcocystis gracilis, a parasitic protozoan species in the genus Sarcocystis infecting dogs

Saurida gracilis, the gracile lizardfish, a fish species found in the Indo- pacific region

Scaphispatha gracilis, a plant species endemic to South America

Sellosaurus gracilis, a prosauropod dinosaur species of Triassic Europe

Senoculus gracilis, a spider species in the genus Senoculus found from Guyana to Argentina

Sepiadarium gracilis, a cuttlefish species native to the Indo-Pacific

Sillago gracilis, the trumpeter whiting, a fish species

Sloanea gracilis, a plant species endemic to Suriname

Smilodectes gracilis, an adapiformes primate species from the early Eocene

Smilodon gracilis, the slender smilodon, an extinct carnivorous mammal species

Spartina gracilis, the alkali cordgrass, a plant species

Sphodromantis gracilis, a praying mantis species found in the Transvaal

Spilogale gracilis, the Western spotted skunk

Spratelloides gracilis, the slender sprat, a sprat fish species

Stemonoporus gracilis, a plant species endemic to Sri Lanka

Streptocephalus gracilis, a crustacean species endemic to South Africa

Syrnolopsis gracilis, a gastropod species

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.

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

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.