|Hooded skunk range|
It can be distinguished from the similar striped skunk (M. mephitis) by its longer tail and longer, much softer coat of fur, and larger tympanic bullae. A ruff of white fur around its neck gives the animal its common name. Three color phases are known and in all three, a thin white medial stripe is present between the eyes: black-backed with two lateral white stripes, white-backed with one dorsal white stripe, or entirely black with a few white hairs in the tail.
The hooded skunk ranges from the Southwestern United States to southern Mexico, but is most abundant in Mexico. These skunks are found to be 50% or less smaller in size in southern Mexico than in the Southwestern United States. It is found in grasslands, deserts, and in the foothills of mountains, avoiding high elevations. It tends to live near a water source, such as a river. The females tend to be 15% smaller in size than the males and their breeding season is between February and March. The litter size ranges from three to eight.
The diet of the hooded skunk consists mostly of vegetation, especially prickly pear (Opuntia spp.), but it will readily consume insects, small vertebrates, and bird eggs, as well. No cases of rabies are reported, but they host a range of parasites, including nematodes, roundworms, and fleas.
Hooded skunks are solitary, but they might interact at a feeding ground without showing any signs of aggression. They shelter in a burrow or a nest of thick plant cover during the day and are active at night. In Costa Rica, hooded skunks do not break eggs with their mouths or throwing them at hard surfaces; but instead they break them by throwing at their back legs. Like M. mephitis, for self-defense, they spray volatile components from their anal glands.!
Hooded skunks are currently not endangered. They are very abundant in Mexico and can live in human suburban areas mostly on pastures and cultivated fields. Their fur has low economic value. However, their fat and scent glands can be used for medicinal purposes. In some parts of their range, their flesh is considered a delicacy. Other common names for the hooded skunk include: mofeta rayada (Spanish), moufette à capuchon (French), pay (Maya), southern skunk, white-sided skunk, and zorillo.
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