Hooded Skunks

By Dave Hanks

Gnawing sounds in the dark outside our camper piqued our curiosity. The beam from our flashlight revealed the source – a skunk. Immediately, we made plans to capture it on film. The next day we put out some dog food behind a rock and waited until dark. Our camper’s door was left open to avoid any unnecessary noise. Sure enough, the gnawing sounds reoccurred in the middle of the night. I worked the camera and flash, while Carolyn focused the flashlight’s beam upon it. We discovered that more than one had responded to the bait.

Though the skunk has formidable artillery, positioned under its tail, it is reluctant to use it unless threatened. It is also less aggressive than other skunk species. However if it must, it can spray up to 15 feet. The spray will burn eyes and cause momentary loss of vision. Our visitors must have felt comfortable. We experienced no problems, as they were content to let us photograph away. They were about 9 feet away from the camper door.

It is black with a wide, white stripe that covers its back and top of head. There is a narrow white stripe down the middle of its face. Its fur is longer and softer than our skunk, which is the Striped Skunk. Our skunk is identified by two distinct stripes on its back.

The Hooded Skunk is nocturnal and prefers rocky ledges or tangled vegetation along a stream. Skunks will eat about anything (omnivorous) and this one eats large amounts of insects and Prickly Pear Cactus. Young are born in May or early June. One litter of 3 to 5 is produced each year.

This is a southwestern USA inhabitant whose range stretches down to Central America.

(A nighttime visitation)