What Makes a Skunk Smell?

The bad-smelling odor of skunks is contained in a liquid which the animal produces and then discharges if it is frightened or in danger.

why do skunks smell

The liquid is called musk.

Musk is produced by two glands near the base of the skunk’s tail. The scent glands produce enough musk for six consecutive discharges.

Until more liquid is produced, the skunk is defenseless.

If a skunk’s first warnings to its enemy, growling and stamping its front feet, are not heeded, it turns its back, lifts its tail, and sprays its liquid toward the enemy.

Only a little liquid is discharged, sometimes no more than two or three drops, but it is so powerful, it can be smelled for a half-mile. The skunk can spray accurately at an enemy as far as 12 feet away. In addition to smelling bad, the liquid can sting or burn the eyes.

Amazing, isn’t it, when the odor has been removed from skunk musk, it makes an excellent base for, of all things, perfume.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

1 thought on “What Makes a Skunk Smell?”

  1. Ew! I hate skunks! They stink so bad! I’m from Uganda and thankfully, there are no skunks in Uganda, but since I came to America, I smell them all the time whenever I’m driving in my car and have to cover my nose. It’s so gross. It’s especially bad when it’s hot out. Yuck!

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