Skunk Defensive Secretion
Neutralize Skunk Spray: History and Chemistry of Skunk MuskWilliam F. Wood, Department of Chemistry Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA 95521 E-Mail firstname.lastname@example.org Phone (707) 826-3109
Skunks use a highly odoriferous secretion to deter predation: A yellow oil composed of thiols and thioacetate derivatives of these thiols. This secretion is stored in two walnut sized glands with openings in the anus. When alarmed or attacked, a skunk can direct this spray several feet. At high concentrations the secretion causes nausea and retching and will act like tear gas if the liquid gets in the eyes. At lower concentrations it has a very foul odor. The human nose can detect skunk spray thiols at about 10 parts per billion. More information about skunk spray can be found in the following links.
Photographs of striped skunk and defensive secretion
by William Wood, © 1999. Updated on 21 June 2010.
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