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Striped skunk        Images © Mark A. Chappell

Striped skunks are the most widely distributed of the five skunk species in the US and Canada (the others are the hog-nosed, hooded, and eastern and western spotted skunks).   They are mustelids, related to weasels, badgers, mink, and otters, and are well known for their ability to accurately spray a noxious defensive chemical from anal glands.   Perhaps because of the effectiveness of this defense against most predators, striped skunks are often quite calm and can be approached fairly closely (with care and appropriate respect) -- although it's wise to stay at least 3-4 meters away.     This one was feeding in grassland in Riverside County, California; it was a bit more nervous than some skunks and raised its tail as a warning signal.

  • Canon 7D2, 100-400 Mk. II zoom, fill-in flash (2021)