Creature Feature: Western Spotted Skunk

Did you know that the Sky Island region is home to four skunk species? There are the striped, hooded, and hog-nosed skunks, but the smallest is the western spotted skunk (Spilogale gracilis). You can tell the spotted skunk apart from the other species by their distinctive marbled coat and smaller size. The male skunk they weighs a little over 1 pound and are slightly over a foot long.

Living in rocky slopes and riparian canyons, the spotted skunk is omnivorous. Eating insects, fruits, grains, eggs, lizards, and small mammals. Surprisingly the spotted skunk eats the most meat and eggs of all the skunk species. Because of this they are important in regulating small mammal and insect populations.

These skunks are listed as Least Concern but their numbers are declining according to the IUCN Red List. Roads and highways are the largest threat to spotted skunks. Primarily through roadkill and habitat fragmentation.

To learn more about wildlife in the Sky Island region read our other posts in the blog series: Wildlife at the Wall. And to learn more about the lesser known animals of the region, please look forward to future Creature Features each Friday.

Spotted Skunk Fact Sources

Animal Diversity Web

IUCN Red List.

Image from “California mammals” (1906) by Frank Stephens