Gwen Peabody

Striped skunks (Mephitis mephitis) are members of the mephitid family, a group that also includes the stink badgers of Southeast Asia. In Arizona, these skunks can be found almost everywhere except the open desert. The average striped skunk weighs between 6 and 10 pounds, and these opportunistic omnivores enjoy a diverse diet of berries, insects, carrion and small rodents. But the most recognizable trait of striped skunks is their spray. Like all skunks, striped skunks can spray a clinging, foul-smelling musk from a gland beneath their tails. And they’re well aware of how malodorous their spray is — they avoid spraying in situations where they risk the musk getting in their fur. These nocturnal mammals’ distinct black and white pelts serve as reverse camouflage, warning predators they’re not worth hunting. Unfortunately for the skunks, one of their main predators, the great horned owl, has little sense of smell.