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  #1  
Old 08-29-2010, 10:48 PM
Mangosteen Mangosteen is offline
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Do skunks stink only after they spray?

We have a few skunks around here in Orange County, CA. Its a semi rural area with lots of critters walking around at night.

Every once in awhile I smell a skunk. I'm wondering if I smell one just walking by the window or has it recently sprayed some animal and that's why I smell it.

Do they just naturally smell bad all the time?
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  #2  
Old 08-29-2010, 10:51 PM
Joey P Joey P is offline
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I believe they only smell when they spray. There are people that even keep them as pets (but I believe they have them de-scented).
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  #3  
Old 08-29-2010, 11:10 PM
elfkin477 elfkin477 is offline
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They always noticably smell, but not like skunk spray. They're mustelids, so like ferrets, weasels, and fishercats (oh, and raccoons, though they're procyonids), they smell musky unless they've been bathed.
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  #4  
Old 08-29-2010, 11:12 PM
Joey P Joey P is offline
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Originally Posted by elfkin477 View Post
They always noticably smell, but not like skunk spray. They're mustelids, so like ferrets, weasels, and fishercats (oh, and raccoons, though they're procyonids), they smell musky unless they've been bathed.
My aunt had a ferret that would smell rather musty if you got it riled up or nervous.
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  #5  
Old 08-29-2010, 11:23 PM
TriPolar TriPolar is online now
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It's the spray that stinks. A skunk can spray without leaving enough on himself for you to notice. Mostly when you smell a skunk, it's the wind carrying the odor from somewhere else. Around here, usually where the dead pole cat lies in the road. Since enough animals, or maybe just my dogs, seem to go after skunks, and change their minds when they get sprayed, skunks aren't usually carrying enough odor with them to dissuade the initial approach. And since they need time to 'recharge' their scent glands, it wouldn't pay for them to waste the stuff as cologne. Of course getting the stuff shot onto your snout is way worse than the odor carried through the air
I've heard of people keeping skunks as pets in the sense of letting them live under the porch, or feeding them, and they said the odor was never a problem. Hard to rely on the credibility of people keeping skunks as pets though. In response to someone who told me to stay away from a skunk seen in the daytime, because skunks are nocturnal, and if out in the day they may be rabid, I said I stay away from skunks all the time, whether they are rabid or not.
There is a great Pepe LePew cartoon where he and a cat fall in love with each other, and she paints a stripe on her back and imbues herself with the scent of limberger cheese, and he gets dry cleaned and made up like a cat somehow, in an O'Henry like story. That's not really relevant, except that Pepe is sometimes portrayed as always stinking like a skunk, but sometimes that's not realized until the antagonist sees the stripe on his back. Oh, and I think there's a Stooges episode where a skunk is mistaken for a fur hat or something, not sure though, I may be confusing that with something else. But skunks and comedy are inextricably entwined.

Last edited by TriPolar; 08-29-2010 at 11:24 PM..
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  #6  
Old 08-30-2010, 07:23 AM
CalMeacham CalMeacham is offline
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I can assure you that skunks also stink after they're run over by your car.
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  #7  
Old 08-30-2010, 09:07 AM
Winston Smith Winston Smith is offline
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I once handled a skunk that had been 'domesticated', and it definitely still had that distinct skunk smell despite having its scent gland removed several years prior, and dozens of baths in those intervening years.

Backstory: Some folks we had met ran a rehab shelter for wild animals and they ended up with a skunk. They were nursing it back to health, but every time the skunk needed shots, the guy was getting sprayed. Goes with the territory, and he was toughing it out, but the skunk was experiencing complications and recovery was taking a while. To make a long story a little less long, they ended up making the decision to remove the scent gland and keep the skunk in captivity.

Last edited by Winston Smith; 08-30-2010 at 09:09 AM..
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  #8  
Old 08-30-2010, 09:07 AM
J-P L J-P L is offline
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I do not know for sure but I always assumed that a skunk would release at least a small amount of the stinky stuff when it peed. Is that so or am I mistaken? Anyone knows?
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  #9  
Old 08-30-2010, 10:12 AM
Anaamika Anaamika is offline
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Thank you for asking this! I have always wondered. We smell skunk at least once a week in our area in the summer and we live nowhere close to the country. I'm guessing it's someone's stray cat or dog, wandering around, or it gets run over.
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  #10  
Old 08-30-2010, 10:12 AM
Tranquilis Tranquilis is offline
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There's a monster skunk 'round here. The size of a small Cocker Spaniel and albino - all the 'black' areas of its coat are cream colored. And yes, I *know* it's a skunk - it hosed my Border Mutt.
Twice.

I can smell when it's in the neighborhood, if the wind is from the right direction. It reeks. Dunno if it's in the habit of spraying into the wind, or if it just has the skunk version of B.O., but whatever - It smells bad ALL the time.
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  #11  
Old 08-30-2010, 10:58 AM
Xema Xema is offline
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Originally Posted by TriPolar View Post
And since they need time to 'recharge' their scent glands, it wouldn't pay for them to waste the stuff as cologne.
A drop or two would easily suffice.
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  #12  
Old 08-30-2010, 11:10 AM
Tranquilis Tranquilis is offline
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Originally Posted by TriPolar View Post
And since they need time to 'recharge' their scent glands, it wouldn't pay for them to waste the stuff as cologne.
A drop or two would easily suffice.
That's all 'Pappy*' would need to make him stink. When he hosed my dog down, the results were like inhaling thumbtacks. Or maybe carpet tacks.


*as in 'grand-pappy of all skunks' - the name my daughter hung on our mutant monster skunk after my border-mutt came into the house literally dripping with skunk spray.
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  #13  
Old 08-30-2010, 12:18 PM
Notchimine Notchimine is offline
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Originally Posted by TriPolar View Post
It's the spray that stinks. A skunk can spray without leaving enough on himself for you to notice. Mostly when you smell a skunk, it's the wind carrying the odor from somewhere else.

Mostly when I smell skunk it means my husband has been out in the garage indulging in what his buddy grows using hydroponics.

However, on the rare instance that I do see a real skunk in the area, they always have that skunk smell around them so I don't think they are as good as spraying away from themselves as you seem to think.
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  #14  
Old 08-30-2010, 12:36 PM
Musicat Musicat is offline
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As a child, I had a pet skunk -- deodorized, of course -- named Tinker Bell. He had no discernible odor, and was kept in our basement. He was a gift from my weird uncle, who wanted to name him Oscar. He kept the basement bug and rodent free.

I imagine that skunks in the wild cannot help but retain a little scent odor after a discharge, but I never had a wild skunk family living under my porch to test that theory.
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  #15  
Old 08-30-2010, 12:58 PM
cochrane cochrane is online now
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Originally Posted by CalMeacham View Post
I can assure you that skunks also stink after they're run over by your car.
Crossin' the highway late last night
He shoulda looked left and he shoulda looked right
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  #16  
Old 08-30-2010, 01:09 PM
TriPolar TriPolar is online now
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Originally Posted by Notchimine View Post
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Originally Posted by TriPolar View Post
It's the spray that stinks. A skunk can spray without leaving enough on himself for you to notice. Mostly when you smell a skunk, it's the wind carrying the odor from somewhere else.

Mostly when I smell skunk it means my husband has been out in the garage indulging in what his buddy grows using hydroponics.

However, on the rare instance that I do see a real skunk in the area, they always have that skunk smell around them so I don't think they are as good as spraying away from themselves as you seem to think.
Hey, I'm not taking a stand on this. Like I said, I stay away from skunks. But I've encountered a couple, and they didn't stink. Just saying they don't have to necessarily. And as noted, I'm not relying on the reports of people who let skunks live under their porch. 'buddy grows using hydroponics' Good one!
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  #17  
Old 08-30-2010, 02:17 PM
GusNSpot GusNSpot is offline
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We can smell them here when just near. If one has not been disturbed in a long time and there is any air moving and you are up wind, you have to get really close to smell one.

One of the most powerful scents there is, 1 part in a billion and a human can smell it I read someplace, poor dogs....
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  #18  
Old 08-30-2010, 02:32 PM
purplehorseshoe purplehorseshoe is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tranquilis View Post
There's a monster skunk 'round here. The size of a small Cocker Spaniel and albino - all the 'black' areas of its coat are cream colored. And yes, I *know* it's a skunk - it hosed my Border Mutt.
Twice.

I can smell when it's in the neighborhood, if the wind is from the right direction. It reeks. Dunno if it's in the habit of spraying into the wind, or if it just has the skunk version of B.O., but whatever - It smells bad ALL the time.
I would LOVE to see a picture of "Pappy." Nice name. And I had NO IDEA the spray could literally drip off a dog!
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Old 08-30-2010, 05:25 PM
Tranquilis Tranquilis is offline
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I would LOVE to see a picture of "Pappy." Nice name. And I had NO IDEA the spray could literally drip off a dog!
You'll understand if I don't go seeking him (it?) out...

I've seen him a few times, always in dim light - Twilight, night, or early false dawn - including once coming out from under my shed. Suka was 'on patrol,' and had already passed that point in her circuit.
( <- Skunk went thataway / Dog went the other -> )
By the time she noticed the intruder, he'd already waddled across the yard and was halfway across the neighbor's. By then, Suka's furious charge was much too late to get her a third dose... You'd think she'd learn.

I've also seen him whilst walking the dogs in the neighborhood, but outside my yard, they don't chase or attack.

And yeah, Suka must have ambushed him in the yard, maybe under or near the shed, the other times - Musk was dripping of her face, neck, ears, and shoulders. The rest of her was merely seriously stanky. But those portions that were wet and drippy... Woah! It hurt to smell her. Like nettles or tacks up the nose and into the sinuses.
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  #20  
Old 08-30-2010, 05:38 PM
TriPolar TriPolar is online now
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You'll understand if I don't go seeking him (it?) out...
Where do you live? Because I don't want to go there. The skunks around here are no bigger than a house cat. My dumbest dog couldn't have had more than a teaspoon of the stuff on her snout (she wasn't the dumbest, just the dumbest one to go after a skunk).
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  #21  
Old 08-30-2010, 05:43 PM
Rick Rick is online now
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When I was younger I lived in an area with lots of skunks.
I have several times been within 1 foot or less of wild skunks. I never noticed an odor.
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  #22  
Old 08-30-2010, 06:12 PM
Silver Tyger Silver Tyger is offline
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UC Santa Barbara is rural enough that they have skunks roaming around the campus all the time. The ones I saw didn't smell, but then I was only just close enough to see how cute they are (very!)
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  #23  
Old 08-30-2010, 06:17 PM
Musicat Musicat is offline
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UC Santa Barbara is rural enough that they have skunks roaming around the campus all the time. The ones I saw didn't smell, but then I was only just close enough to see how cute they are (very!)
Cute, yeah, but take it from me, they don't make good pets. Try ferrets instead.
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  #24  
Old 08-30-2010, 11:22 PM
Tranquilis Tranquilis is offline
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You'll understand if I don't go seeking him (it?) out...
Where do you live? Because I don't want to go there. The skunks around here are no bigger than a house cat.
Delaware, USA.

But there's a reason I referred to Pappy as a mutant-monster. As in "seriously out-sized, and far more stanky than any skunk oughtta be." Most of our skunks run about house-cat sized, also. Pappy is just a freak. A very scary, stanky freak.
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  #25  
Old 08-30-2010, 11:24 PM
elfkin477 elfkin477 is offline
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Originally Posted by J-P L View Post
I do not know for sure but I always assumed that a skunk would release at least a small amount of the stinky stuff when it peed. Is that so or am I mistaken? Anyone knows?
I'm curious as to why you came to that conclusion considering that their spay comes from anal scent glands. Were you under the impression it was like male cats spraying urine?
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  #26  
Old 08-30-2010, 11:49 PM
Neptunian Slug Neptunian Slug is offline
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Originally Posted by CalMeacham View Post
I can assure you that skunks also stink after they're run over by your car.
I think my car stunk more than the animal after one of those run-ins.

But I have the odd skunk pass through my yard and I don't turn green and pass out feom the stink like in the Pepe Le Pew cartoons.
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