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, which means the smell is a nightmare to get rid of.
 
And then there's the delivery system for these chemical weapons, a thing of beauty, if not a joy forever. Skunks have little nipple squirters, one on each side of their rear ends that 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 and they'll only spray if threatened or cornered.
 
Also, they're veracious eaters of bugs and mice, so 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 (32)
  • lukem-orv
    5/04/2016 - 04:07 p.m.

    Because their spray is like tear gas. And the spray will make people's eyes watery and itchy. Also the spray can make people throw up in a ten-foot radius!

  • charliet-orv
    5/04/2016 - 04:09 p.m.

    Because the gas stings.

  • tylerl-ver
    5/04/2016 - 06:15 p.m.

    The skunk spray is like tear gas. It causes you to grab and wipe at your eyes. It keeps you from seeing for a little while.

  • dianner-2-bar
    5/04/2016 - 07:08 p.m.

    Skunks aim for the eyes because that is where the human will back away from them. I loved this article because at first i thought that we don't need them and there smelly but when the article said skunks are shy, mild-mannered creatures and they'll only spray if threatened or cornered.
    "Also, they're veracious eaters of bugs and mice, so they're actually pest exterminators themselves." I also liked this article and was a bit disturbed because Skunks have little nipple squirters, one on each side of their rear ends that 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."

  • collinf-2-bar
    5/04/2016 - 10:19 p.m.

    Skunks aim for the eyes because it puts their predator in pain. "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 found this article interesting because I've always wondered what's in skunk spray.

  • angelinat-3-bar
    5/04/2016 - 11:58 p.m.

    Skunks aim for the eyes because without the eyes, many people are disoriented, and do not know what to do. Animals are very intelligent, and the skunk seems to know that. The article says, "A good blast of skunk has pretty much the same effect as tear gas." This shows that with one blow or blast, the human would not bother the skunk anymore. I was interested in this article because I think skunks are cool creatures. I wasn't surprised in this article because I know that skunk's odor smells really bad.

  • kieranw-3-bar
    5/05/2016 - 01:19 a.m.

    Skunks aim for the eyes to eliminate and scare off predators or to weaken their prey and allow them to get the upper hand. I learned that skunks do not spray these sulfur based compound we all know as skunk spray out of their behinds but they actually have nipples located on each side that can aim accurately for ten feet. I find this article really interesting because I now know skunks are shy animals that are very veracious eater.

  • haithema-har
    5/05/2016 - 07:53 a.m.

    I think that the reason that they aim for the eyes is that it is like the natural version of tear gas, and it sends you screaming and grabbing your eyes, and it can even make you throw up.

  • meredithh-nic
    5/05/2016 - 08:29 a.m.

    Skunks aim for the eyes because they can spray up to ten feet. Also the chemicals in skunk spray have a result of tear gas. Skunks also aim for the eyes because they can easily get away from the predator after they spray the eyes, the spray will irritate your eyes very badly. In conclusion just don't get close to a skunk, the smell is very hard to get out.

  • darieny-ver
    5/05/2016 - 09:25 a.m.

    They aim for the eyes because there enemies eyes will burn and blind them temporarily, giving the skunk time to escape.

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