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The Skunk

The Skunk

March 2012: It flashes its sharp teeth, hisses and growls and stamps its front feet on the ground. Then it lifts its long, bushy tail, turns its rear end around and sprays a fine mist of stinging liquid ‘musk’, which the recipient will smell for days! Yes, if threatened, that is how a skunk will respond. The word ‘skunk’ is derived from a native American word that means “one who sprays.”

Although the most common fur color is black and white, some skunks are brown or grey, and a few are cream-colored. All skunks are striped, even from birth.

Scientists have found that the musk liquid contains compounds called thiols that give it a really awful smell. However, the skunk will only fire its musk as a last resort as its musk glands produce only a tablespoon of musk at a time and once used, it takes several days to fill it up.

There are some 12 species of skunks found worldwide. The skunk has a long body, small head and short but muscular legs. Though it usually moves slowly, it is capable of running at speeds of 16 km. per hour when chased. It uses its front claws to dig up insects and uses its teeth to bite and kill bigger prey. Omnivorous, it feeds on everything from insects to mice, frogs, birds, rabbits, eggs and even berries, mushrooms, nuts and other fruits. Young skunks are called kits. A nocturnal animal, it sleeps during the day and is active at night. Though it has a poorly-developed sense of sight, its senses of hearing and smell are very sharp.

by Sanctuary Asia, First appeared in: Sanctuary Cub, March 2012


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