Western spotted skunk

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Western spotted skunk[1]
Spilogale gracilis.jpg
Spilogale gracilis
Spilogale gracilis amphiala.jpg
Spilogale gracilis amphiala
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Mephitidae
Genus: Spilogale
Species: S. gracilis
Binomial name
Spilogale gracilis
(Merriam, 1890)
Western Spotted Skunk area.png
Western spotted skunk range

The western spotted skunk (Spilogale gracilis) is a spotted skunk of the west of North America


With a total length of 35–55 centimetres (14–22 in), the western spotted skunk is smaller than the striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis). The adult is boldly striped black and creamy white, mainly longitudinally, with a white spot on the head between the eyes, and a white patch below each ear. The ears are short and rounded. The animal has a conspicuously large, long haired black and white tail.

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Skeleton of Spilogale gracilis.

The western spotted skunk is found throughout the western United States, northern Mexico, and southwestern British Columbia.

Their habitat is mixed woodlands, open areas, and farmlands. They display deimatic (threat) behavior, raising their hind parts in the air and showing their conspicuous warning coloration to scare off predators. They spray by standing on their forelegs and raising their hindlegs and tail in the air.

Taxonomy and etymology[edit]

The western spotted skunk was first described by Clinton Hart Merriam in 1890;[3] its specific name, gracilis, is derived from the Latin for "slender".[4] Although it was thought for years to be conspecific with the eastern spotted skunk (S. putorius), the presence of delayed implantation in the western spotted skunk clearly sets it apart.[5]


Seven subspecies are generally recognized:[1]


  1. ^ a b Wozencraft, W. C. (2005). "Order Carnivora". In Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 623. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494. 
  2. ^ Cuarón, A.D., Reid, F. & Helgen, K. (2008). Spilogale gracilis. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 27 January 2009.
  3. ^ ITIS Report. "ITIS Standard Report: Spilogale gracilis". Retrieved December 8, 2007. 
  4. ^ Verts, Carraway & Kinlaw. (2001) Mammalian Species: Spilogale gracilis. American Society of Mammalogists, 674: 1-10.
  5. ^ Smithsonian: National Museum of Natural History. "North American Mammals: Spilogale gracilis". Retrieved December 8, 2007. 

External links[edit]