Why Do Skunks Spray?
The skunk is famous for its unpleasant odor. Its unpopularity is due to its unique means of defense – it protects itself from its enemies by spraying an evil-smelling liquid. (Contrary to popular belief, it is the liquid that smells – not the skunk.)
The smelly liquid is stored in a pair of scent glands at the base of the skunk’s tail. When attacked, the skunk turns its back to the enemy, raises its bushy tail, and sprays its terrible liquid. The spray can travel several feet with good aim. The odor is so suffocating that it usually puts to rout any foolhardy attacker.
A skunk’s spray is made up of oily chemicals called thiols. Thiols are sulphur compounds that can cause headaches and burning or stinging in the eyes. The worst part, though, is the smell.
Skunks don’t spray unless they feel threatened. Their glands only hold enough spray for five or six strikes. If they use up all their spray, it can take up to 10 days to make more. Before spraying, a skunk will usually try other ways of scaring off a predator, including hissing, stomping its feet and lifting its tail to simulate a spray attack.