Q:

How do skunks spray?

A:

Quick Answer

A skunk's spray is an oily liquid produced in glands that are located under its tail. The skunk ejects this liquid when it's threatened by predators. Skunks have high accuracy when spraying within 10 feet and can spray as far as 25 feet with lower accuracy.

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Full Answer

Skunks don't use their spray as an offensive device, but instead they use it only in self-defense when they are frightened. A skunk displays clear warning signs before it sprays. These include stomping the feet, raising the tail, running toward the threat and stopping, hissing and squealing. One species of skunk even does handstands to warn predators. Only after exhibiting these behaviors do skunks turn around and spray.

The spray of a skunk is usually not harmful, but it may cause burning sensations in the eyes, nose and mouth. The strong, foul odor may take days to fade and is effective in deterring predators.

Baby skunks have the ability to spray before they even open their eyes. Domesticated skunks undergo a special procedure to be de-scented when they are only weeks old, removing the risk of the skunk spraying owners; however, domestic skunks do often perform innate prespraying behaviors as part of their play.

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