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)
  • kalebs-2-nic
    5/05/2016 - 12:02 p.m.

    Skunks aim for the eyes because it gives them a chance to escape if the target is blind. I don't have to call the exterminator if we have a skunk we just take care of it ourselves. My dog got sprayed by a skunk and it was so funny to give her a bath in tomato sauce.

  • calebb-nic
    5/05/2016 - 12:05 p.m.

    Skunks aim for the eyes because that is a soft point for us. Also our eyes our sensitive. Finally the eyes our one of the softest parts in our body.

  • aidanp-1-bar
    5/05/2016 - 03:25 p.m.

    Skunks aim for the eyes because its the most effective in damaging the victim. It is also what it is made to affect. Like it says on paragraph 4 it says "A good blast of skunk has pretty much the same effect as tear gas."

    I liked this article because it is interesting.

  • noahf-3-bar
    5/05/2016 - 03:25 p.m.

    Skunks aim for the eyes because their spray has the same effect as tear gas, disabling their enemy causing the enemy to stagger, making it harder to see, and sometimes even making them throw up.

    I found this article interesting because I never what skunk spray was made of and how or why they actually sprayed people, but now I do.

  • caitlynk-2-bar
    5/05/2016 - 08:03 p.m.

    Skunks aim for the eyes because "same effect as tear gas." Skunks are prey not predators. So if they aim for the eyes they can give themselves time to get away. The "tear gas" makes the predator go "staggering around clutching your eyes and screaming" of course the animal wouldn't scream, but it would be enough for the skunk to get away. This article was interesting because I thought I knew a lot about skunks, and I thought that it was best to get away from them because they would spray you but it they are actually just friendly, shy animals. This article surprised me because the picture shown is a picture with a skunk in the day light, but this is weird because skunks are nocturnal.

  • seans-2-bar
    5/05/2016 - 08:59 p.m.

    The most vulnerable area of a predator is the animals eyes, the effect of this phenomena on target can be "and aside from sending you staggering around clutching your eyes and screaming, it can even make you throw up". Compared to an unsuccessful assault which just leaves the victim stinking horribly. This was an educational article that I will refer to when confronting these animals in the future.

  • audreyv-4-bar
    5/05/2016 - 11:57 p.m.

    Skunks aim for the eyes, because it will affect their predator the most. Being hit in the eye with skunk gas is more painful than being hit with it in the leg or arm. After all, "A good blast of skunk has pretty much the same effect as tear gas." (paragraph4) However, skunks only spray their gas if feeling threatened or scared.

    I found this article very interesting, because I have heard the great trouble it is to be hit by skunk gas, now I understand why that's so.

  • kaled-2-bar
    5/06/2016 - 01:56 a.m.

    Skunks aim for the eyes because then the person or whatever is threatening it will back away from them. Also it has "the same effect as tear gas."(paragraph 4) I thought this article was interesting because I never knew that skunks aimed for the eyes when spraying.

  • matthewp-6-bar
    5/06/2016 - 10:46 a.m.

    When a skunk sprays you they aim for your eyes. The reason for this is because they want to blind you so they can get away and not get chased. Since you can not see. This is shown by," Skunks aim for the eyes." My opinion about this article is I truly dislike skunks but I understand they only spray us for self-defense.

  • carlym-4-bar
    5/06/2016 - 11:20 a.m.

    Skunks aim for the eyes because it is more painful and can cause you to throw up. "...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 because I understand why skunks spray smelly gas at their predators.

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