skunk

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skunk,

name for several related New World mammals of the weaselweasel,
name for certain small, lithe, carnivorous mammals of the family Mustelidae (weasel family). Members of this family are generally characterized by long bodies and necks, short legs, small rounded ears, and medium to long tails.
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 family, characterized by their conspicuous black and white markings and use of a strong, highly offensive odor for defense. The scent glands of skunks produce an oily, yellowish liquid, which the animal squirts with great force from vents under the tail; this produces a fine mist which, in addition to stinking, causes choking and tearing of the eyes. Skunks do not make use of this weapon unless severely provoked and then only after raising the tail in a warning display. Most animals quickly learn to recognize and avoid skunks, which are consequently quite fearless and move about openly. The two common skunks of the United States, the striped skunk and the spotted skunk, are nocturnal animals; their diets include rodents, insects, eggs, carrion, and vegetable matter. They live, often several individuals or families together, in dens made in abandoned burrows or buildings or in rock piles. Most familiar is the striped skunk, Mephitis mephitis, of the United States, N Mexico, and Canada S of Hudson Bay. It has thick black fur, usually with two white stripes on the back. It is 13 to 18 in. (33–46 cm) long, excluding the bushy tail (7–10 in./18–25 cm), and weighs 6 to 14 lb (2.7–6.4 kg). Because it destroys pests, it is protected in many states. In northern parts of their range the animals sleep through much of the winter, but they do not truly hibernate and may emerge during warm spells. The small, slender, spotted skunk, Spilogale putorius, has several irregular white stripes or lines of spots. It inhabits Mexico and the W, S, and central United States. Its combined head and body length is 9 to 13 in. (23–33 cm) and the tail is 4 to 9 in. (10–23 cm) long. This skunk balances on its front paws as part of its warning display. Central and South American skunks, species of the genus Conepatus, have white backs and tails and black underparts. Good diggers with large claws, they root in the ground for food. One species, the hognose skunk (Conepatus leuconotus), ranges as far north as the SW United States. Skunk fur, especially that of the striped skunk, is much used for coat trimmings. The animals are sometimes kept as pets, usually after having the scent glands removed. Skunks are classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
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, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Carnivora, family Mustelidae.

skunk

[skəŋk]
(vertebrate zoology)
Any one of a group of carnivores in the family Mustelidae characterized by a glossy black and white coat and two musk glands at the base of the tail.

skunk

1. any of various American musteline mammals of the subfamily Mephitinae, esp Mephitis mephitis (striped skunk), typically having a black and white coat and bushy tail: they eject an unpleasant-smelling fluid from the anal gland when attacked
2. Slang a strain of cannabis smoked for its exceptionally powerful psychoactive properties
References in periodicals archive ?
Skunks den in natural cavities like woodchuck burrows, hollow logs, brush piles, crevices in stone walls and under buildings.
Scott Adams, the zoo's owner, said: "The baby skunks are super cute.
She also has five-year-old skunk Wilfred but he does not like crowds and noise.
by STEPHEN WHITE A NURSE who battled anxiety and depression for a decade has been cured after getting a pet skunk.
To survive in a world full of predators, skunks have developed a highly effective biological weapon.
Kyle Corrin, who runs a mobile zoo and lives with a variety of interesting animals, including one of the biggest pythons in the UK, says his skunk, named Bailey, broke free from his enclosure in Netherton and is roaming free.
Nocturnal animals like skunks, foxes and bats may be out during the day
Lizzie says skunks make great pets - despite the smell which some have compared to a whiff of cannabis.
The Story on Skunks. Bowls of kibble left outside for stray cats and dogs can also attract bold, hungry wildlife, like skunks.
Few studies have examined habitat use and the importance of cover to spotted skunks within the foothill transitional habitat that defines the shift from lowland grasslands to mountain ranges that are abundant across the Rocky Mountain States, which comprise the predicted northern contact zone between S.
When compared to the striped skunk, there is overlap of skull measurements, but those of hooded skunks, in general, tend to be smaller than those of striped skunks.