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 (329)
  • justiny-2-bar
    5/04/2016 - 11:57 p.m.

    Skunks aim for the eyes to possibly blind their target or to disable the target so they can make a quick get away. I find it interesting that the effect the spray has is the same as tear gas. I found it surprising that they have two nipple like sprayers on their rear end.

  • thomasf-kut
    5/05/2016 - 07:49 a.m.

    I never knew why skunks smelled so bad but now i know. I also just thought they were a mean creature. But they actually just shy

  • kyleyc-kut
    5/05/2016 - 07:51 a.m.

    A skunk sprayed my dog once, my bus once hit a skunk near my bus stop, and once a skunk sprayed my dad's car! So I've had more than a few experiences with skunks... Although its irritating when a skunk sprays something, they are unique creatures... What other animal do you know of that scares away predators by messing with their sense of smell? (I'm sure there's more but I haven't heard of any as of now.)

    Why do skunks aim for the eyes?
    Because they could not only mess with the predator's sense of smell, but they can blind them as well. Ugh, just imagine getting sprayed in the eyes by a skunk... ow...

  • natef-kut
    5/05/2016 - 07:54 a.m.

    I did not know that skunks spay like an acid I thought it was like a fart. Know i know that they are actually dangerous and can hurt my eyes. Answering the critical thinking question i think that they do that to distract the victim and run away.

  • wamsleyc-har
    5/05/2016 - 09:04 a.m.

    Skunks aim for the eyes because there spray can act as tear gas and can harm the eyes. Which in return can have you throw up, start crying, and can have you screaming. They do this because they think that you are going to harm them. They spray and then have time to get away from whatever is trying to harm them.

  • rachaels-ver
    5/05/2016 - 09:22 a.m.

    this would have to suck if you got sprayed because your eyes. all the stories ive ever heard there has never been any case with eyes. maybe they are to short. still must suck.

  • ziont-orv-orv
    5/05/2016 - 09:52 a.m.

    It aims for the eyes because it has an affect as a tear gas that can make you clutch your eyes and screaming in pain. It can even make you throw up.

  • mariac-
    5/05/2016 - 09:53 a.m.

    They aim for the eyes because it'll make you scream and throw up at the same time. They will only shoot it if they are threatened or cornered.

  • lucerot-
    5/05/2016 - 09:57 a.m.

    skunk aim for the eyes because if a person or someone want to hunt them or kill them they spray their gas on there eyes so that they wont see and won't hunt them or kill them or do something to them and that way they wont see and they will stop and not go near them.

  • exom-
    5/05/2016 - 09:58 a.m.

    Skunks aim for eyes to protect itself from predators that are attacking them.

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