Protecting Yourself From a Spraying Skunk

Skunks may be interesting and beautiful animals, but they have an equally bad smell! To be fair, this is not their fault. This is a natural defense mechanism which they use to defend themselves against predators and attackers. Their coloring (black and white) is also a warning to predators. Such bright and unique colorings are usually a sign in the animal kingdom that tells predators to stay well away. 

How do skunks produce their spray?
Skunks have two glands; one is located on each side of the anus. These glands produce oil, musky liquid. When defending themselves from attackers, skunks turn around, bend over and spray! They can spray up to an incredible 15 feet away, which means that they do not have to be near you to get you drenched!

What is in Skunk spray?
Spunk spray contains chemicals called thiols which contain a large amount of sulfur. The sulfur accounts for most of the skunk's smelly odor. Other chemicals include thioacetates and methyl quinoline. 

Are skunks spray harmful?
Skunk spray may not be too harmful to you. The worst it can do is make you smell very bad until you wash it off. But for pets, skunk spray is dangerous. Skunk spray can make cats and dogs get sneezing, vomiting, nausea and drooling. If the spray gets into the animal's eyes, it can cause temporary blindness, squinting and swelling. The thiols in the skunk spray can give your cat or dog anemia, although this is very rare. If this happens, you must take your pet to a vet immediately. 

How can I avoid getting sprayed?
Skunks are generally peaceful animals, and they will not attack you first. They usually come out at night and do not like bright lights because they have poor vision. So avoid walking your dog at this time. Because dogs do not walk away when they encounter a skunk, and instead pounce, therefore they are more likely to get sprayed.  If you encounter a skunk, then walk away slowly. Do not make any sudden movements or loud noises, as this will frighten the animal. If it gets frightened, it might spray. Skunks will usually prefer running away to spraying. They will also stamp their feet and hiss as a method of self-defense.  However, if you see the warning signs that this skunk is about to spray, then run for your life! If the skunk begins to stomp its feet, swing its tail and turn around, then you know that you are in trouble. Skunks do not like bright lights, so carry a flashlight with you whenever you go for a walk to deter skunks.

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