Western Spotted Skunk

Western Spotted Skunk


Found in parts of Western Canada, the Western United States, throughout much of Mexico and the Northern portion of Central America.


Lives in wooded or brushy areas and farmlands with rocky outcrops or large boulders that it uses for shelter.


The western spotted skunk is a small, slender skunk with shiny black fur with distinct white stripes on the front part of its body. A white spot is present on the forehead and another in front of each ear. The back part of the body has two dash-like white bands with one white spot on each side of the rump and two more at the base of the tail. The top of the tail is black and the underside is extensively white. The tip of the tail is white. The pattern of white lines and spots is unique to each individual animal. Each foot has non-retractable claws. The claws on the front feet are twice as long as those the back and are primarily used for digging. They have two anal glands which they can squeeze to emit a foul smelling substance for defense.

Western Spotted Skunk

This skunk will climb trees to flee predators. Its black and white coloration warns predators to stay away. If the warning is ignored, a spotted skunk will lower its head, stamp its front feet and assume a “handstand” position. At this point, it raises its tail and accurately sprays a foul smelling fluid up to 20 feet! To do so, it uses the two anal glands at the base of its tail that are filled with musk. When it sprays, it squeezes the anal glands together and emits the musk through its anal opening. Spotted skunks are nocturnal animals and sleep during the day. Their home range is about 150 acres. They are generally solitary but will share a den with other skunks in the winter.


Western spotted skunks generally mate in late September or October and give birth in March or April of the next year. For about seven months after mating, the fertilized eggs don't develop within the female—they remain in a state of suspended animation floating freely in the uterus for about 180-200 days. This is called delayed implantation. The egg then attaches and develops during their true gestation period of 21-31 days. This behavior helps ensure that the kits will be born when food is plentiful. Females give birth to litters of two to six kits. The kits are born blind, deaf and helpless. They nurse for about eight weeks and then are weaned. At this point, the female brings the kits live prey, and begins teaching them to hunt for themselves. The pups have fully functioning musk glands by one month of age.

Interesting Facts:

The French name for this skunk is "mouffette tachetée " and the Spanish name is Zorillo Pinto. The spotted skunk, also known as the hydrophobia cat or the civet cat, is the size of a small domestic cat, about half the size of a striped skunk. This makes them the smallest of the skunks. The closely related and similarly patterned eastern and western spotted skunks have been considered both the same species and separate species by different researchers. The two do not occur together over much of their ranges and when they do overlap, they do not seem to interbreed.

Western Spotted Skunk

Although this skunk species is rare, it is not threatened or endangered. It is an important predator and helps keep rodent and insect populations in check.

Did YOU Know?    
This skunk is a member of the weasel family.
Western Spotted Skunk
Native Utah Animal
Class: mammals
Order: Carnivora
Family: Mephitidae
Genus: Spilogale
Species: gracilis
Length: Head and body 18 - 22 inches; tail 4 - 6 inches
Weight: 1-2 pounds
Average Lifespan: Up to 10 years in captivity
Where at the Zoo? Small Animal Building

Learn more about mammals or animals from North America!
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