You’ve got questions, NDN has the answers. Tricia asks, “Do skunks let go with musk when fighting each other or only in response to non-skunk threats?“
When it comes any question about skunks, I turn to my favorite expert on the Mephitidae family, Dr. Jerry Dragoo of the University of New Mexico’s Department of Biology.
“Skunks usually don’t spray unless they fear for their lives; some skunks are easier to scare than others. Usually during a skunk to skunk encounter the combatants will go through a series of displays and threatening behaviors. There may be some screeching or other vocalizations. The encounters usually end peacefully with one animal retreating. Some times the two may actually fight. There will be biting and rolling and again, more vocalizations. This too usually ends peacefully with the loser backing off,” he explains.
But there are some exception. Occasionally, adult male skunks will kill juveniles so young skunks are more likely to feel their life is at stake and spray if they encounter an adult.
Intraspecies spraying can also occur during the breeding season. According to Dr. Dragoo, “Females may spray males. The breeding behavior of striped skunks may seem like fighting. If the female is receptive the ‘fight’ will continue until she has bred. She may mate with multiple males during breeding season. However, when she is done, she may spray at a male to deter unwanted advances.”
Nothing says “I vant to be alone” quite like an atomized sulfur cloud.