What makes skunks' spray smell so terrible? A family of baby skunks in a hollow log. (Thinkstock)
What makes skunks' spray smell so terrible?
Lexile

You asked us, what makes skunks spray smell so terrible?
 
The skunk's smelly armory is a horrific wonder of nature. First off, the main chemical weapons are sulfur-based compounds like the ones that make rotten eggs and flatulence so nasty. Second, these compounds are mixed with other ultra-sticky chemicals. That make the smell a nightmare to get rid of.

And then there's the delivery system for these chemical weapons. It's a thing of beauty, if not a joy forever. Skunks have little nipple squirters, one on each side of their rear ends. They can rotate independently like an anti-aircraft weapon. I'm not kidding.

Even scarier, these weapons are accurate up to 10 feet and skunks aim for the eyes. A good blast of skunk has pretty much the same effect as tear gas. And aside from sending you staggering around clutching your eyes and screaming, it can even make you throw up.

Before you call the exterminator to get Pepe Le Pew out of your backyard, consider this. Skunks are shy, mild-mannered creatures. They'll only spray if threatened or cornered.

Also, they're veracious eaters of bugs and mice. They're actually pest exterminators themselves.

And finally, there's this - baby skunks!

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why do skunks aim for the eyes?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (318)
  • zeusr-3-bar
    5/04/2016 - 05:31 p.m.

    To blind the predator who is trying to eat or scare away the skunk it's self.

    My opinion on this topic is that these skunks are only defending them selves not "hurting" any one.

  • dashiellg-3-bar
    5/04/2016 - 05:38 p.m.

    Skunks will aim for the eyes when they spray you because that is your weakest point. With the awful smell and you can not see combo you are surely to run away. If they aim for the eyes it gives them a split second more to get away. I thought this article was interesting because it did not say anything about how to get rid of the smell. The article just talked about how the skunk sprays you. I thought if you take bath in tomatoes you will smell better.

  • tessf-6-bar
    5/04/2016 - 06:16 p.m.

    Skunks aim for the eyes because it has the same effect as tear gas. "A good blast of skunk has pretty much the same effect as tear gas" (paragraph 4).
    I have never been sprayed by a skunk but I have seen them before. Now that I know this I will make sure to stay away from them.

  • paigea-3-bar
    5/04/2016 - 06:43 p.m.

    Skunks aim for the eyes because it is the most painful form of an attack on a living thing. The spray causes the most pain when it comes into contact with the eyes. The article supports this by stating, "Even scarier, these weapons are accurate up to 10 feet and skunks aim for the eyes. A good blast of skunk has pretty much the same effect as tear gas. And aside from sending you staggering around clutching your eyes and screaming, it can even make you throw up." I enjoyed this article and I found it very fascinating how the skunks aim for the eyes because I never knew that they did this, and it is a smart attack mechanism.

  • colek-1-bar
    5/04/2016 - 06:44 p.m.

    Skunks aim for the eyes to blind their attackers. When a predator attacks skunks in the wild, they use their spray which, "has pretty much the same effect as tear gas." (paragraph 4). When the chemicals are sprayed into the attackers eyes, they are blinded for enough time for the skunk to escape unharmed. They aim for the eyes only in an act of self-defense. That is why skunks aim for the eyes. I thought this article was interesting and found that skunks have two "nipple squirters" to aim the foul chemical surprising.

  • william1108-yyca
    5/04/2016 - 07:48 p.m.

    Well, I already knew about that skunks make very nasty smells. But I never knew that a smell can make you throw up. I only thought that the smell of a skunk only makes you smelly. Also I haven't even seen a skunk before in a real life. Maybe one day I will learn more about skunks.

  • andrew-1-bar
    5/04/2016 - 07:54 p.m.

    Skunks aim for the eyes because the spray causes temporary blindness and intense irritation so skunks could run away from predators and hide if threatened.

  • melissaj-Ste
    5/04/2016 - 08:24 p.m.

    I haven't the foggiest idea why, or how, skunks know where our eyes are. Personally I've never been in the presence of a skunk, I've only ran over the remnants of one of which the smell still remained. I feel like all animals would react the same way a skunk would. It is no trouble to you if you don't bother it. Leave it alone and it will leave you alone.

  • ben0424-yyca-byo
    5/04/2016 - 10:01 p.m.

    Skunk spray has made me wonder about it. I know that it is really hard to take off and that skunks usually aim for the eyes. But, this passage told me some other interesting facts. It has a chemical compound, and that it can make you throw up. I have never actually seen a skunk or knew someone that got sprayed by a skunk. I hope that in my life, I will never get sprayed by a skunk.
    Critical Thinking Question Answer: Skunks aim for the eyes, because they will make the creature that is sprayed become blinded for a moment and they have a chance to run away.

  • caleighm-4-bar
    5/04/2016 - 11:38 p.m.

    Skunks aim for the eyes in an attempt to blind their attacker or accidental opposition. If skunks feel threatened, it can be assumed that the shy creatures will try and leave their threatener as maimed as they possibly can in the shortest time possible, in order to let the skunk flee the scene quickly.

    I chose this article because I nearly got sprayed by a skunk one time, and did not know that it was aiming for my eyes.

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