Illustration from Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia/Corbis
Mephitis mephitis notata
Subspecies of Skunk
February 28, 1806, at Fort Clatsop, Oregon.
Typically black with two broad white stripes on back meeting in cap on head and shoulders; thin white stripe down center of face. Bushy black tail, often with white tip or fringe. Length: 20–31 in (51–79 cm); tail: 7.3–15.5 in (18.5–39.4 cm). Weight: 6–14 lb (2.7–6.3 kg).
Desert, woodlands, grassy plains, and suburbs.
Most of U.S.; southern tier of Canadian provinces.
Whereas most mammals have evolved coloration that blends with their environment, the striped skunk is boldly colored, advertising to potential enemies that it is not to be bothered. The Latin name for skunk, mephitis, means "smells bad."