Hooded Skunk

Hooded Skunk

Kingdom
Phylum
Subphylum
Class
Order
Suborder
Family
Genus
SPECIES
Mephitis macroura
Population size
Unknown
Life Span
3 yrs
WEIGHT
0.4-2 kg
LENGTH
558-790 mm

Hooded skunks are small mammals known for their ability to spray a liquid with a strong, unpleasant smell. They can be distinguished from the similar striped skunk by their longer tail and longer, much softer coat of fur. A ruff of white fur around their neck gives Hooded skunks their common name. There are three color phases 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.

Distribution

Hooded skunks can be found from the Southwestern United States to Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and northwest Costa Rica. They live in forests, grasslands, shrublands, deserts, and in the foothills of mountains, avoiding high elevations. These animals are often found near a water source, such as a river.

Hooded Skunk habitat map

Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

Hooded skunks are solitary creatures; however, they may gather in small groups 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. Like other skunks, for self-defense, they spray bad-smelling oily musk from two glands located near the base of their tail.

Group name
Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

Hooded skunks are omnivores. Their diet consists mostly of vegetation, especially prickly pear, but they also eat insects, small vertebrates, and bird eggs.

Mating Habits

REPRODUCTION SEASON
February-March
PREGNANCY DURATION
60 days
BABY CARRYING
3-8 kits
FEMALE NAME
sow
MALE NAME
boar
BABY NAME
kit

The mating system of Hooded skunks is unknown but similar to the Stripped skunk they may be polygynous; this means that during the breeding season one male mates with several females. Hooded skunks usually breed from February to March and after the gestation period of 60 days, females give birth to 3-8 kits.

Population

Population threats

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 in local folk medicine. In some parts of their range, Hooded skunks are hunted for food as their meat is considered a delicacy.

Population number

According to IUCN, the Hooded skunk is locally common and widespread throughout its range but no overall population estimate is available. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are increasing.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • The scientific name of the Hooded skunk comes from Latin and Greek languages. Name 'mephītis' is Latin and means 'foul odor' while 'μακρός' (makrós) is Greek and translates to 'long' and 'οὐρά' (ourá) translates to 'tail'.
  • Other common names for the Hooded skunk include: mofeta rayada (Spanish), moufette à capuchon (French), pay (Maya), southern skunk, white-sided skunk, and zorillo.
  • Hooded skunks are true ground dwellers and can't climb at all.
  • The only true predators of Hooded skunks are Great horned owls as they have a very poor sense of smell and don't feel the odor powerful musk sprayed by skunks.

References

2. Hooded Skunk on Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hooded_skunk
3. Hooded Skunk on The IUCN Red List site - https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/41634/45211135

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