Skunks are basically a streamlined kitty with a fluid drive. It’s a black kitty with a white stripe down its nose, white on top and back of its head, a white speed-stripe down each side of its back and more white in its tail. It’s the size of a woodchuck and carries its plume-like tail erect like a banner.
That’s the striped skunk, the most common and widespread species. Its range is from the east coast of the U.S. to the west coast, plus northern Mexico and southern Canada. There are three other species of skunk. There’s the spotted, whose range does not include the northeast region of the U.S., nor any part of Canada; and there are the hooded and hognose skunks, which are animals of Mexico, through the range of the hooded skunk and extends into Arizona and New Mexico. The range of the hognose, meanwhile, extends into Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
All skunks have a fluid drive. Many people in the contiguous U.S., perhaps most, know the smell, the stench of a skunk. Some people know that stench from a personal encounter; some from their dog having a personal encounter; and many people know it from a white of a dead skunk they drive past on the side of the road.
Then there are those unfortunate drivers who hit a skunk on the road. My daughter did that a few weeks ago, and the outside of her car, as well as the inside of our garage, still reek.
The scientific name for the striped skunk is “mephitis mephitis.” From the dictionary, mephitis means “a noxious or offensive exhalation arising from substances in the earth; a foul stench.”
Armed with two little packets of liquid stench, one on each side of the anus at the base of its tail; a striped skunk ambles about the countryside, searching for grasshoppers, beetles, crickets, mice, snakes, bird eggs and nestlings. Visiting farms, it also takes chickens and their eggs when the opportunity presents itself.