A Big Name for an Even Bigger StinkMany people refer to a skunk’s spray simply as being skunked. However, there are more scientific terms that do the job, too. The liquid stink spray that a skunk uses for a defense mechanism is called n-butyl mercaptan. The latest research confirms that the actual chemical compound of the yellow, oily liquid that the skunk sprays from its backside is comprised of no less than seven significant components: thioacetates, thiols, and an alkaloid.
A Big Defense for a Little AnimalThe truth is, skunks don’t want to use their stinky spray on your or anyone else, and they don’t go around flagrantly spraying people, other animals, or anything else at will. However, skunks aren’t particularly dangerous, and they don’t get much bigger than an ordinary house cat, so they have to have some defense to stay alive. Skunks only use their spray as a last-resort defense mechanism. Before enlisting their spray as a protective measure, they will try several other actions in hopes that the aggressor will leave the area. It is also acceptable to give them enough space to leave without feeling like they will be attacked. Skunks may attempt the following actions to warn you of an oncoming spray:
- Tail shaking