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Western Spotted Skunk (Spilogale gracilis)
Mammals Around Las Vegas, Wildlife Around Las Vegas
Western Spotted Skunk (Spilogale gracilis)
Spotted skunk hiding under a truck.
Photo © 2008 Joseph Goldfarb

Order Carnivora: Carnivores; Family Mustelidae, Skunks

Western Spotted Skunks (Spilogale gracilis) are small (less than 2 pounds) predator-scavengers with black fir overall and white spots on the face and white blotches or irregular lines on the body. The tip of the tail is white. Skunks are more often smelled than seen, and they can squirt their noxious materials about 10 feet. Skunks are uncommon around Las Vegas; don't expect to see one, but count yourself lucky if you do.

Spotted Skunks eat anything that doesn't run faster than they do. Their natural diet consists mainly of grasshoppers, crickets, mice, bird eggs, frogs, fruit and other plant parts, carrion, and similar items. They are quiet good mousers, and were welcomed by some pioneers for their rat-catching ability, said to be as good as a house cat.

Western Spotted Skunk (Spilogale gracilis)
Spotted Skunk stomping in a 5-gallon bucket.
Photo © 2008 Joseph Goldfarb

Spotted Skunks seem to prefer brushy areas with boulders and water, but they have been found in the desert far from water. Skunks also occur in rural areas where old buildings provide cover and mice in the barn provide food. Skunks are nocturnal, sleeping in underground burrows, hollow trees, and similar places.

If confronted, Spotted Skunks will try to flee, but if they can not escape, they will act tough and stamp their front feet on the ground. If that doesn't keep the attacker at bay, they will do a hand-stand with the front and back ends of the animal pointing towards the enemy. At an opportune time, the skunk will discharge its stinky musk in a spray. The odor is said to be worse than that of its larger cousin, the Striped Skunk.

Note: All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
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© 2014 Jim Boone; Last updated 140511

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