What Makes a Skunk Smell?
The unpleasant odor of a skunk comes from an oily liquid. The skunk uses this liquid as a defense against enemies. The skunk oil, known as mercaptan, is stored in two scent glands under the animal’s tail.
When attacked, the skunk lifts its tail and sprays its smelly liquid toward the enemy. Muscles around the glands enable the spray to be projected quickly and with high precision.
The odor is so suffocating that it usually repels any attacker. In fact, the skunk doesn’t like the smell either. It tries not to get any of the offensive liquid on its own fur. An exceptionally clean animal, a skunk ordinarily has no odor about it at all.
Skunks will only release their spray if they feel really threatened as the glands only hold enough of the pungent concoction for ﬁve or six strikes and it can take up to ten days to replenish.
The animal gives plenty of warning before letting off a stink bomb, including stamping its feet and thrusting its tail high in the air in preparation.