Did you know skunks can spray their smelly stuff with pinpoint accuracy up to 20 feet (6.1 m) away? As masterful as they are at squirting this stuff, they only do it as a last resort because replenishing their supply is a slow process. They refuse to spray when they get in a fight with another skunk. They only do it against predators when they feel their life is in danger.
Of course they also spray—involuntarily—when they get run over by a vehicle. Usually, when people smell a skunk, it's from one that was killed on a nearby road. Actually, the road doesn't have to be nearby—a skunk's smell can easily be detected by humans a half mile (0.8 km) away.
Skunks are so stingy with their spray that they usually only squirt out a small amount. This is enough, and it leaves them with a supply in case they need it before they can produce more. It takes 10 days to refill their anal glands (where the stuff is made). If they run out, skunks are vulnerable to predators until they make more.
An interesting point... dogs often get sprayed by skunks, whereas wild predators (coyotes, bobcats, badgers, wolves, and others) do not. Why? Because domesticated dogs have lost many of their natural instincts regarding the natural world, including the innate fear of skunks. Wild predators immediately recognize a skunk's distinct black and white fur, and they steer clear. Domestic dogs don't, not even when the skunk stomps its feet and raises its tail to warn them away.
I've often wondered what it's like to a dog to get sprayed by a skunk. Humans are visual, experiencing the world with our eyes. Dogs, though, are olfactory-inclined. Scientists guess that dogs smell 10,000 to 100,000 times better than we do. So, I imagine when a dog is hit with skunk spray, it is kind of like if I were to stare directly at the sun. Youch!
Below is a spotted skunk.
- Spotted Skunk - DepositPhotos
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