Why do skunks spray?

Whenever you catch even a whiff of the defensive spray, it will be a horrid sensation. This is because it contains the chemical compound thiol and it is comprised of hydrogen and sulfur. They are the same ingredients found in other things that stink like rotting flesh, feces, garlic and onions. Specific thiols found in the skunk spray are known to be volatile and at same time malodorous.

A skunk is capable of ejecting the concentrated spray from the anus area with much force, which may lead to blindness for a certain period. Other additional compounds called thioacetates in the spray are activated by water, so when you try to get the smell out, you may end up even smellier. Using a mixture of hydrogen peroxide with baking soda that oxidizes volatile thiols is the right way to neutralize this smell.

Even though skunks have sharp claws and pointy teeth, they do not like to fight when they are confronted with any danger. However, the skunk will warn the attacker by stomping its feet and using vocalization. They will use the spray as a last resort for their target being at least 10 feet away. When the target has been bewildered, blinded and disoriented, then they will use such an opportunity for escaping.

Many people have passed through the unpleasant experience of walking or driving within the area where a skunk has sprayed. Many people also suffer when there is a skunk den under their homes. The pungent method they use for their protection has given them the bad name of being labeled as pests. Everyone knows about their distinctive aroma, but people ignore other things about them.

The scent glands in the skunks fulfill different purposes for the animals, but primarily they use their spray like a defense mechanism. The anal glands have two nipples which protrude on the anus and they are used for spraying. A skunk may manipulate the sphincter muscle so that it may control which direction the spray will be taking. When the skunk is aware of where the threat is, it will spray in its face, but when it is not sure what is threatening it, it will spray a fine mist in order to make the enemy run into the cloud full of acrid liquid. The skunk spray is potent and it may lead to vomiting or it may cause temporary blindness.

Some people assume that the skunks are inclined to spray whenever they find a person or an animal. However, this is not true since the skunks will decide to spray only if they think that they do not have any other options. The white and black markings of the skunks are used as a defensive method on their own. The animals that have been sprayed before will remember the experience they had and they see such a coloring as a caution sign. This is why skunks are usually left alone in nature, and they do not have many enemies.

You may also want to read:

  • How to remove skunk odor from a pet or human
  • How to remove skunk smell from a car
  • Can a skunk spray more than once?
  • Do skunks warn before spraying?
  • How to protect yourself from a spraying skunk
  • Do skunks run out of spray?
  • Do baby or juvenile skunks spray?

  • Go back to the Skunk Removal home page or email us for more info about Why do skunks spray?