Incredible Skunk Spray. Everything You Want To Know
skunk spray

How far can a skunk spray? Photo: Rikki’s Refuge/Flickr

Ever wondered how far a skunk can spray? Or how often a skunk sprays? And why do they smell so bad? Lots of questions for the curious mind. So let’s see what we can learn.

The down & dirty on skunk spray

what is skunk spray?

What exactly is skunk spray? Photo: David Larson/Flickr

We always know when a skunk is in the neighborhood. You can smell it. And what a terrible smell!

No wonder, the liquid a skunk sprays is an organic compound called a thiol. And guess what it smells like? Rotten eggs.

The liquid is produced in two anal glands under its tail. The skunk’s secret weapon! One lift of its tail and you or maybe your dog will soon smell like rotten eggs. Lovely!

Why do skunks spray

Skunk spray smells like rotten eggs. Lovely!

Why do skunks spray?

Skunks spray when they are frightened. It could be a person, curious dog or predator looking for a meal.

But first, they give a warning. They will stomp their feet, scratch the ground and hiss at you to make you go away. Spotted skunks will even do a handstand to warn you. If none of these tactics work, you just might get sprayed!

And one interesting tidbit, skunks rarely spray each other. They reserve their secret weapon for other species.

How often can skunks spray?

how often can skunks spray

How often can skunks spray? Photo:Tom Koerner/ USFWS/Flickr

So one question I have is how often can skunks spray? Anytime they want?

Since I haven’t been up close & personal with a skunk, I will rely on the experts. According to them (the experts whoever they are), skunks can spray up to 6 times in succession before running out of their smelly weapon.

And what does skunk spray look like? Picture a yellow oily substance that sticks to skin,  clothes and your dog’s fur. Yuk.

Ok, so is skunk spray toxic? It depends on who you ask. Google any animal trapper/remover and they will tell you all about the dangers. Well, of course, they want you to pay them to remove the skunk! Then look at wildlife rehabbers or vet clinics, and they generally say the fluid is not harmful unless it gets in the eyes or is ingested.

But skunks only want to use their precious weapon as a last resort. Once they have used all their liquid, it can take up to 10-14 days to refill the glands. This means they are completely defenseless against predators in that 2 week period. Yikes! Not good for the skunk!

Do baby skunks spray?

can a baby skunk spray

Can a baby skunk spray you?Photo: julie rohloff/Flickr

Surely a baby skunk can’t spray you? Ah, they can but not generally before they are a couple of months old. And the older they get, the better their aim with the spray. But even when they are just a few weeks old, some babies can spray a musky smell.

And how far can a skunk spray this lovely fluid? Adults can accurately spray about 15 feet. So if you stay away from them, you should be fine.


What is the remedy for skunk spray?

Skunk spray

What do you do if your dog gets skunked? Photo: OakleyOriginals/Flickr

So your dog has been skunked. Now what?

First, please don’t use tomato juice. This is an old myth and you will end up with your dog smelling like rotten eggs and tomato juice. Ugh!

Here’s the best recipe for de-skunking your dog, or you for that matter.

Dog Skunk Shampoo

1 qt 3% Hydrogen Peroxide

1/2 C baking soda

1 t liquid soap

Mix all these together and shampoo your dog with it and then rinse well. You may need to repeat it several times. Your dog may still smell, especially when it gets wet, but it will be a big improvement.

If your pet is in any kind of distress such as  vomiting, call your vet or emergency clinic.


Any other questions about skunk spray?

Let us know if you have any questions about skunks or their spray. Just leave a comment in the section below & we will get back to you.

And if you want to learn more about skunks and why the Great Horned Owl is their number one predator, read our blog “Skunks”. To delve a little deeper into the smelly spray, check out “Ask Smithsonian: What Makes Skunk Spray Smell So terrible?”


Join us to receive behind the scenes updates on Dale’s newest sculptures, cool animal facts, highlights on organizations you can support and breaking conservation news.


Pin It on Pinterest