are skunks related to cats

Skunks, like raccoons, otters, and weasels, are part of the Carnivora order of mammals (they’re omnivores, though). They’re distantly related to dogs, and even more distantly related to cats.

Relations with humans

A healthy skunk rarely bites people, but a tamed skunk with its scent glands removed (usually by people planning to keep it as a pet) may bite in self-defense. There are, however, few recorded incidents of skunks biting humans. Humans who are bitten by skunks may contract the rabies virus. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported 1,494 cases of rabies in skunks in 2006—roughly 21 5% of reported cases in all species. In actuality, raccoons are more common than skunks as rabies vectors [38][39]. (But in the US, this varies by region; skunks are more common in the Midwest, including the western Gulf, and in California, whereas raccoons are more common along the Atlantic coast and the eastern Gulf of Mexico. ).

TaxonomyMain article:

The current species of skunks are listed alphabetically as follows:[2] A hooded skunk

The word “skunk” dates back to the 1630s and was borrowed from a southern New England Algonquian language (likely Abenaki) called seganku. Proto-Algonquian *šeka:kwa means to urinate, and *-a:kw means fox. [3] Skunks have long been used as insults; evidence dates back to 1841. [4].

In 1634, a skunk was described in The Jesuit Relations:

Despite the fact that polecats and skunks are only distantly related, the term “polecat” is occasionally used as a colloquial nickname for a skunk in Southern American dialect[7].

Skunk is a verb that refers to the act of decisively winning a match or competition against an opponent. Skunk is also a term used to describe some potent cannabis strains whose scent has been likened to a skunk’s spray.

Skunk species vary in size from about 15. 6 to 37 inches (40 to 94 cm) in length and weigh approximately one 1 lb (0. 50 kg) (spotted skunks) to 18 lb (8. 2 kg) (hog-nosed skunks). Their bodies are somewhat elongated, and they have long front claws for digging and relatively short, well-muscled legs. They have five toes on each foot. Back left foot of an albino skunk.

While black and white is the most common fur color, some skunks also have brown or grey fur, and a small number have cream fur. All skunks are striped, even from birth. In the case of the spotted skunk, they might have two thinner stripes, a single thick stripe across the back and tail, or a pattern of white spots and broken stripes.

Behavior A skunk in Ontario, Canada

When not breeding, skunks are solitary and crepuscular animals, though they may congregate in communal dens for warmth in the colder regions of their range. They can dig burrows for protection during the day with their strong front claws. The majority of the year, skunks’ typical home range is zero. Males expand during the breeding season to travel 4 to 5 miles (6 to 8 km) per night, with a diameter of 5 to 2 miles (1 to 3 km). [8].

Although they do not actually hibernate in the winter, skunks do hibernate for extended periods of time. Nonetheless, they undergo a dormant phase and are typically inactive, feeding infrequently. [9] Males typically den by themselves during the winter, while several females—up to 12—huddle together. Often, the same winter den is repeatedly used.

They are highly susceptible to being killed by cars because, despite having keen senses of smell and hearing, they have poor vision and cannot see objects farther than three meters (10 feet). They have a limited life span; in the wild, they can live up to seven years, on average. [10][11] They could live up to ten years in captivity. [10][11].

Skunks are polygynous, meaning that successful males are not prevented from mating with more females. They mate in the early spring.

Usually in May, the female excavates a den to house her litter of four to seven kits before giving birth.

Skunks are placental, and they take roughly 66 days to gestate. [12].

Skunk kits are born blind and deaf and have fur that is already soft. They open their eyes for the first time around three weeks after birth, and they are weaned about two months after that. When they are ready to mate, which is usually around the age of one year, they usually remain with their mother.

The mother sprays at any indication of danger because she is protective of her kits. The male plays no part in raising the young. [13] Female skunk with young.

Because they are omnivores, skunks consume both plant and animal matter, and their diets vary with the seasons. They consume eggs, birds, moles, lizards, salamanders, grubs, insects, larvae, and earthworms. In addition, they frequently consume nuts, berries, grasses, roots, leaves, and fungi.

In settled areas, skunks also seek garbage left by humans. Skunks are less frequently observed scavengers, consuming the carcasses of birds and rodents that cats and other animals have left behind. Owners of pets, especially those with cats, may encounter skunks breaking into a basement or garage that is used to store pet food. Typically, skunks excavate holes in lawns to locate grubs and worms.

Skunks search for insects that reside within decaying logs by using their long claws to break them apart. Additionally, they dig for insects with the use of their claws, leaving behind pits that are clear indicators of feeding. Additionally, the claws aid in securing live, moving prey. [14].

Skunks, who depend on their thick fur to shield them from bee stings, are among the main predators of honeybees. When guard bees emerge to investigate, the skunk eats them after making scratches at the front of the beehive. [15] It is known that mother skunks instill this behavior in their young.

Anal scent glands are a well-known characteristic of skunks, and they can be a defensive tool. They resemble the glands found in species belonging to the Mustelidae family, but they are far more developed. There are two glands on either side of the anus in skunks. The skunk’s spray, which has an unpleasant smell and is made up of a mixture of sulfur-containing substances like thiols (previously known as mercaptans), is produced by these glands. The thiols also make their spray highly flammable. [16][17] Bears and other potential attackers can be deterred by a skunk’s powerful spray. [18] The scent glands can spray as far as 3 m (10 ft) with a high degree of accuracy thanks to muscles next to them. [19] The spray is strong enough for a human nose to detect up to five times its own weight in fragrance. It can also cause irritation and even momentary blindness. 6 km (3. 5 miles) downwind. [20] The following passage from Charles Darwin’s 1839 book The Voyage of the Beagle demonstrates how successful their chemical defense is:

Skunks can hold only 15 cm3, or enough material for five or six consecutive sprays. It can take up to ten days for them to store more. [22] Their striking black and white coloring gives them a striking appearance. Skunks benefit from warning potential predators away with their scent. Aside from their aposematic warning colors of black and white, threatened skunks will engage in a complex ritual of hisses, foot stamping, and tail-high deimatic or threat postures before spraying. Skunks typically don’t spray one another, unless it’s mating season and they are males. In the fall, they will use their teeth and claws to defend their den. [23].

Skunks are rarely attacked by the majority of America’s predators, including wolves, foxes, and badgers, probably due to their fear of being sprayed. The great horned owl[24], the skunks’ only regular predator, dogs, and careless predators that back off after being sprayed are the exceptions. [25] In one instance, a single great horned owl nest contained the remains of 57 striped skunks. [26].

Three low-molecular-weight thiol compounds—(E)-2-butene-1-thiol, 3-methyl-1-butanethiol, and 2-quinolinemethanethiol—as well as their acetate thioesters make up the majority of skunk spray. [30][31][32][33][34][35] These substances can be detected by the human nose at just 11 3 parts per billion. [36][37].

FAQ

What are skunks closely related to?

The Mustelidae or weasel clan is a family known for its members’ fascinating habits; it includes the badgers, skunks, otters, ferrets and weasels. In the Sonoran Desert region only the badger and the skunks are common.

Can a skunk and a cat breed?

But no, skunks and cats cannot mate, and should an unnatural coupling occur, they could not reproduce. Tomcats have been known to hook up with rabbits — nothing ever comes from it — but skunks? No.

Are cats and skunks friends?

It is not advisable that you get too close to this animal, or any other wild animal, and you will most definitely want to keep the creature away from your household pets. Are skunks dangerous to cats, dogs and other pets? Yes, very much so. Take great care to ensure the two never come together.

What is the cousin of the skunk?

Skunks have quite a bit in common with weasels, more so than they do with rodents. Therefore, they have traditionally been included as part of the Mustelidae family along with weasel relatives, such as otters, ferrets, minks, badgers, and wolverines.