Why Do Skunks Stink?

skunk, pest control, pests

Why Do Skunks Stink?

Skunks are one of the most notorious animals in the world. These small carnivores may be the size of a cat, but they are more closely related to weasels or raccoons.

Skunks are solitary creatures, which means they spend their time alone, foraging for food.

They are creatures of mixed senses; while a skunk has poor vision, they have a strong sense of hearing. Ironically, skunks have an excellent sense of smell, which they will use to find food.

Their diet is varied; a skunk could consider anything from berries and bugs to mice lunch. One thing that skunks particularly like is pet food.

If you have your dog or cat food anywhere a skunk could reach, such as a shelf in a garage, on a porch, or even in your trash can, you might encounter a hungry skunk.

If this skunk gets anxious, you might learn why a skunk is a notorious animal- they treat threats with a bad-smelling spray!

What Makes Skunks Stink?

Everybody knows about a skunk’s smelly spray, but if you’ve ever wondered why skinks smell so bad, you’re in the right place!

A skunk itself will not smell as horrible as its spray- it is a wild animal and will not smell pleasant, but the spray is what makes a skunk truly stink.

A skunk’s spray smells so bad because it is a compound known as a thiol. A thiol is an organic compound comprised of sulfur, which is an element known for its strong smell.

Sulfur has a smell that many people describe as similar to rotting eggs- a smell that is notorious for its pungency.

Much of a skunk’s smell ascribes to this sulfur element, with these potent thiols strong enough to linger for weeks on end. In optimal conditions, a human can smell skunk spray from up to half a mile away!

If skunk spray gets near a victim’s head, it can cause temporary blindness and a stinging sensation in the eyes. The scent also induces nausea in people with weak stomachs.

Why Do Skunks Spray?

Skunks spray as a last line of defense; this spray is a mechanism that skunks use to protect themselves from predation or harassment.

Luckily, spraying is far from the first thing a skunk will do, so you have plenty of time to vacate the area before you get sprayed!

First, a skunk will show off its high-contrast patterning or stomp around to ward off any threats. Keep an eye out for these signs, because if the skunk thinks that they didn’t work, it will spray you.

You must get a safe distance away from the skunk- beyond ten feet, which is the distance that a skunk can spray with accuracy.

If you believe a skunk is in the immediate area, it may be wise to avoid it for the time being.

Thankfully, skunks are not dangerous to most people. They are more of a nuisance than anything!

However, you will still need to avoid them as much as possible. The skunk stench is notoriously difficult to get rid of!