What's that smell? If you've ever sniffed the scent of a skunk, you know why people and animals avoid getting too close to a skunk. If a skunk feels threatened, it lifts its tail and squirts. What comes out is an oily, liquid spray. The spray is harmless but very stinky. The smell does not quickly go away. A predator has to be really hungry to go after a skunk.

North America is home to four different types of skunks: the striped skunk, the spotted skunk, the hooded skunk, and the hog-nosed skunk. All four are black and white. The striped skunk is the most common type. It is about the size of a cat. The striped skunk has white stripes running down its back. The spotted skunk is smaller than the striped skunk. The spotted skunk has white spots and short white stripes that are broken. Striped skunks live in much of the United States and Canada. Spotted skunks live in much of the U.S. and also in Mexico.

Hooded skunks and hog-nosed skunks live mainly in the southwestern U.S. The hooded skunk has hair around its neck that looks like a ruff. It has a very long tail. The hooded skunk may have an all white back and tail, or its back and tail may be almost all black with two white stripes on the sides. The hog-nosed skunk has a long snout. It has a white back and tail. Its belly and lower sides are black.

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