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About Skunks: Species, Habits, Appearance

About Skunks

Skunks are moderately small mammals, usually with black-and-white fur, belonging to the family Mephitidae and the order Carnivora. There are 11 species of skunks, which are divided into four genera: Mephitis (hooded and striped skunks, two species), Spilogale (spotted skunks, two species), Mydaus (stink badgers, two species), and Conepatus (hog-nosed skunks, five species). The two skunk species in the Mydaus genus inhabit Indonesia and the Philippines; all other skunks inhabit the Americas from Canada to central South America.

Skunks are sometimes called polecats because of their visual similarity to the European polecat ( Mustela putorius), a member of the Mustelidae family. Skunks were formerly considered a subfamily of the Mustelidae (where some taxonomists still place them), but recent genetic evidence indicates that they are not as closely related to the weasels and allies as formerly thought.

Skunk species vary in size from about 15.6 in. (40 cm) to 27 in. (70 cm) and in weight from about 1.1 lb. (0.5 kg) (the spotted skunks) to 10 lb. (4.5 kg) (the hog-nosed skunks) They have a moderately elongated body with reasonably short, well-muscled legs, and long front claws for digging.

Although the most common fur color is black and white, some skunks are brown or gray, and a few are cream-colored. All skunks are striped, however, even from birth. They may have a single thick stripe across back and tail, two thinner stripes, or a series of white spots and broken stripes (in the case of the spotted skunk). Some also have stripes on their legs.

Source: http://www.wikipedia.com/