Kelly Vaughn

The thing about Western spotted skunks (Spilogale gracilis) is that they’re actually striped. Their stripes are broken, giving the appearance of blotches. You’ll find “spotted” skunks, sometimes called civet cats, all across the state, but primarily in rocky, mountainous areas. They’re members of the family Mephitidae and are the smallest of Arizona’s four skunk species, with females weighing in around 1 pound and males around 1.5 pounds. As omnivores, they eat grasshoppers and other insects, as well as plant bulbs and carrion. And, of course, they get a little stinky when they feel threatened. Should you encounter a skunk in the wild, back away slowly and steadily and don’t make any sudden movements.