Spilogale putorius- the Eastern Spotted Skunk



Interactions and Nutrition


Spilogale putorius is known as one of the smallest omnivores in the United States. Most of its interactions with other species include predation. It is either eating something else, or another organism is trying to eat it. Among the multiple genuses of skunks, the genus Spilogale has been found to have the longest carnassial, the teeth towards the back of the mouth, next to the molars. This observation greatly supports the theory of the animal’s main predatory habits (Medellin et al. 1998). sp

The spotted skunk is an opportunistic feeder, in which it would prefer to eat insects, such as the walking beetle, mosquitos, and fireflies, but will eat many other organisms that are available, plants and other animals alike (ADW 2002). Some organisms that Spilogale putorius has been know to eat include other small mammals such as the Woodrat, red cockaded woodpeckers, frogs, fruit, and vegetables (ADW 2002 and Lesmeister et al. 2013). The gut of the spotted skunk is complex in nature and includes adaptations for digesting not only plant material, but also other animal material, such as the guts of many mammals do.


When a skunk feels as though it is being attacked, it puts one of its greatest attributes into action. The skunk has the ability to spray a foul muck out of its hind end by lifting its tail and releasing the glands holding the terrible smell. This odor drives others away from it, and can be smelled for miles around. In extreme cases, this muck can be sprayed 4-5 meters (Bradley 1997 and ADW 2002). Predators of the skunk are warned of this coming attack by a series of hand stands that the spotted skunk will perform as a sort of prelude to their release. Some predators of the spotted skunk include those of aviation, mainly great horned owls, as well as foxes, and coyotes (Bradley 1997 and Lesmeister et al. 2010). Though, not in a necessarily predatory interaction, the Spotted Skunk can come into contact with, and compete with the Pocket Gopher in regions on similiar habitats. pelt

One of the spotted skunk’s greatest interactions with organisms in the living world has been that with humans. The pelts of the fur on the spotted skunk was a treasured commodity and sold in market places all around the United States, as it still is today. As the number of skunks began to diminish because of the harvesting that was taking place in the mid 1900’s, the price for a pelt continued to rise (Gompper and Hackett 2005). The higher selling prices only made the hunting for these little critters more intense. These interactions have also played a huge, and arguably the most influential effect on the decline of this species as a whole. Human pesticides use has diminished the environments in which spotted skunks are able to thrive. Synthetic materials interact with all systems of the spotted skunks make up and cause great complications, consequences that are known little at this time, but will continue to be able to be seen as the use of pesticides grows every year (Gompper and Hackett 2005).


As evident, Spilogale putorius plays numerous roles in the food web of life. Some organisms eat it, while it alone devours organisms as well.

Don't miss out on the Interesting Facts up next!

May also be helpful: