Acrobatic Skunk?
May 7, 2008 9:45 PM   Subscribe

Do Spotted Skunks stand on their fore legs?

I've got what may be an urban legend kicking around my head. At one point in my childhood I ran across a Zoobooks issue about skunks and other mustelids and the salient fact that stayed with me (beyond the need to hang up your food while out camping around Wolverine country) was that Spotted Skunks will stand on their fore legs just before they spray, as a warning.

Now, I've turned up some semi-dubious sources that mention this fact. A few of the following links are first-page hits on google, not that this means much, and one wiki link. But, if there are any mustelidae fans or experts who can give me an actual peer-reviewed study on the spraying behaviors of the spotted skunk I'd appreciate it.


Wikipedia link on the spotted skunk
As a warning before spraying, the skunk stamps its front feet, raises its tail, and hisses. They may warn with a unique "hand stand"—the back vertical and the tail waving.
They defend themselves by stamping their
feet, and, if the intruder does not leave, will stand on forefeet, raise their hind legs, and spray a jet of scent up to 11 feet.
The skunk first gives a warning by stamping its front paws. If the intruder pays no heed, the spotted skunk then stands stiff and struts around. It then stands on its front paws and waves its rear end in the air.
The spotted skunk has a unique spraying behavior. When threatened, it will turn its back, do a handstand on its forefeet, raise its tail, and spray.
The spotted skunk has a unique trait of doing a handstand on their front legs and then spraying over their backs.
posted by Sam.Burdick to Pets & Animals (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
posted by tellurian at 11:41 PM on May 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

And another.
posted by tellurian at 11:46 PM on May 7, 2008

Can I add on or hijack and ask if anybody else enjoys the smell of skunk? Maybe I've never been hit with the full force, but I enjoy the smell of skunk (blowing on the wind or from roadkill or any other "didn't spray me" method). I like it, maybe I have a weird nose...
posted by zengargoyle at 12:26 AM on May 8, 2008

i for some reason also 'enjoy' the smell of skunk... there was a short article last fall talking about strange smells people like.
posted by noloveforned at 6:45 AM on May 8, 2008

I enjoy it as well.
I didn't enjoy it when it was plastered all over my dog.
I would enjoy it much less if I ever got hosed myself, I think.
I can imagine being that personal with the stench might make me hate the faint muskiness that I occasionally enjoy now when a summer breeze blows some up from the creek.

I too have seen a skunk do a handstand.
But we frightened him while he was running across a narrow rafter in a little stone cabin, so he might have been an acrobat skunk.
posted by Seamus at 8:25 AM on May 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

"I think garlic, I think rotten teeth that have never been flossed" [video] The opening scene when the cameraman gets sprayed and the sounds that he makes are very funny.
posted by tellurian at 9:22 PM on May 8, 2008

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