Spilogale pygmaeapygmy spotted skunk

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Geographic Range

The pygmy spotted skunk occupies a very small range along the Pacific coast of Mexico.

Habitat

Pygmy Spotted Skunks inhabit wooded or brushy habitats with rocky soil. They avoid dense forest and wetlands. They den in burrows or may seek refuge in trees

Physical Description

The spotted skunk is the most weasel-like of the three main skunk genus. It has a smaller, more slender body and a finer coat then it's closest relatives. Pygmy spotted skunks reach a length of 115-345 mm with a tail of 70-120 mm. It has a beatiful, rich black coat with characteristic white markings on its forehead and 2-6 white stripes over its back and sides. The stripes break into spots over the hindquarters. The tail is often tipped in white, although no two patterns are alike

Like all skunks, they posses two grape sized scent gland on either side of the anus.

Reproduction

Pygmy spotted skunks mate in September or October but implatation is delayed until March or April. The embryonic development only lasts 28-31 days, for a total pregnancy of 230-250 days. Females give birth to 3-6 young per litter in the early spring (litters may be as small as 2 or as large as 9). The young attain adult coloration after 21 days, open their eyes at 32 days, can spray musk at46 days, and are weaned before 2 months, They reach adult size at 15 weeks and become sexually mature in less than a year. The young disperse in the fall but may spend the winter with their mother in a communal den.

  • Key Reproductive Features
  • gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
  • sexual

Behavior

Spotted skunks do nurture their young. The young skunks have been observed trailing after their mothers on her nightly hunting trips. They often share large nests in the winter but do not hibernate. It is suspected that these dens consist of a mother and that year's litter but this has not been proven. The little spotted skunk is strictly nocturnal. The Spotted Skunks first reaction in time of danger is to flee. When cornered they engage in an offensive display. They attempt to inflate themselves and raise their tail. They then stand on their front legs and may even advance towards their percieved attacker in this position. If the threat is still not abated they drop back to all fours and bend themselves into a U, aiming at their attacker. It is then they release the familiar scent in a cloud of droplets.

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

Omnivore. Spotted skunks are the most carnivorous of the skunks. The pygmy spotted skunk feeds on insects, fruit, and berries in the summer months and hunts smaller mamals, birds, and reptiles during the winter. They may climb trees in pursuit of prey and sometimes raid hen houses for eggs.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Pygmy Spotted Skunks feeds on insects and other rodent pests, aiding agriculture. They were trapped for their pelts to some degree.

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Aside from the occasionnal interaction with domesticated dogs, and other large domestic mammals skunks have little to do with the everyday lives of humans. They may occasionally raid henhouses. Skunks do carry rabies.

Conservation Status

Contributors

Bradley David Gay (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

Glossary

Nearctic

living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.

World Map

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

endothermic

animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

forest

forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

tactile

uses touch to communicate

References

Davis, William B. 1939. The Recent Mammals of Idaho. The Caxton Printers Ltd. Caldwell Idaho.

Grzimeks Encyclopedia of Mammals. 1990. McGraw Hill Publishing Company. New York.

Nowak, Ronald M. 1991. Walkers Mamals of the World, Fifth Edition. John Hopkins Press. Baltimore.

Van Gelder, Richard. 1982. Mammals of the National Parks. John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore.

Warren, Edward R. The Mammals of Colorado. G.P. Putnam and Sons, New York.