skunk

3 ENTRIES FOUND:

skunk

/

Striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis).—E.R. Degginger

Any of several black-and-white New World species in the carnivore family Mephitidae that eject an odoriferous liquid (as far as 12 ft [3.7 m]) when threatened. The liquid becomes a fine mist that causes tearing of the eyes and choking. Some scent-gland secretions are used in perfume. Species vary in colour pattern and size. Most are 18–37 in. (46–93 cm) long, including the bushy tail, and weigh 2–13 lb (1–6 kg); the two species of spotted skunk (genus Spilogale) are much smaller. Skunks eat rodents, insects, eggs, birds, and plants. The striped, or common, skunk (Mephitis mephitis) is a nocturnal feeder that occurs in most of North America. With its scent glands removed, it is sometimes kept as a pet. The common skunk is a major carrier of rabies, which is fatal to skunks. The seven species of hog-nosed skunk (genus Conepatus) have a long, bald snout. The hooded skunk (Mephitis macroura) has a neck ruff.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
For the full entry on skunk, visit Britannica.com.

Seen & Heard

What made you look up skunk? Please tell us what you were reading, watching or discussing that led you here.

Get Our Free Apps
Voice Search, Favorites,
Word of the Day, and More
Join Us on FB & Twitter
Get the Word of the Day and More