Spotted Skunk
Tracks and Sign

Spilogale gracilis

Drawing of spotted skunk tracks by Kim A. Cabrera
7/8 - 1 3/8 in. L x 5/8 - 1 1/8 in. W 13/16 - 1 1/4 in. L x 13/16 - 1 in. W

western spotted skunk track

Left hind track on the left. Left front track on the right.

Natural History of Western Spotted Skunks

The spotted skunk, also known as the hydrophobia cat or the civet cat, is the size of a small domestic cat, about half the size of a striped skunk.

They are more social than other skunks. Several may share a den over the winter. They den in hollow logs, brush piles, and the burrows of other animals.

The spotted skunk is the most carnivorous of all skunks. It eats small mammals, insects, rats, mice, grapes, fruit, corn, and grubs.

Owls are the primary predator of skunks. Owls can strike silently from above and carry off a young skunk before the parent can use its defensive spray.


Shy spotted skunk hiding under a building. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2004.

Spotted skunks are good climbers and will climb trees to escape from predators. They are faster and more agile than striped skunks.

In early spring, four to six blind, furred young are born. They don't have the distinctive black and white spotted fur coloration until early summer.

The spotted skunk has a unique spraying behavior. When threatened, it will turn its back, do a handstand on its forefeet, raise its tail, and spray. It can accurately spray a predator 12 to 20 feet away. Most predators are wary and will back off when the skunk begins this display. Skunk scent comes from a chemical called methyl mercaptan and is carried in glands near the animalís tail.

Spotted skunk tracks show five toes on each foot, with claw marks. The heel pad of the hind print is distinctively lobed.

These skunks were hunted for their fine, silky pelts, which are very valuable.

Spotted skunks have a home range of about 150 acres. They weigh one to two pounds and are about 1Ĺ feet long from nose to tip of tail. They den in dry places, beneath buildings, in tree cavities, or in rock piles.


Spotted skunk on a deck. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2004.

western spotted skunk track
Spotted skunk right hind track
western spotted skunk track
Spotted skunk right hind track
western spotted skunk track
A front track that I partially stepped on accidentally!
western spotted skunk track cast
A beautiful cast I made of some perfect spotted skunk tracks in mud. You do not often find such perfect examples of the tracks of this species. I got lucky! Right hind track on the left. Right front track on the right.
western spotted skunk track cast
A cast showing the overlapping tracks of a western spotted skunk. Right hind track below left, is the most complete, because it stepped on top of the right front track, above right.
western spotted skunk track cast
A beautiful left front track of a western spotted skunk!
western spotted skunk track
Right hind track of a western spotted skunk
western spotted skunk track
Front track of western spotted skunk
western spotted skunk track
A right front track of a western spotted skunk
western spotted skunk track
Three western spotted skunk tracks. On the far left is the left hind print, in the middle is the right front, on the right is the right hind footprint.
western spotted skunk track and striped skunk track
The track above is the left front print of a striped skunk. The track below is the rught hind track of a western spotted skunk.
western spotted skunk track
Left front track of a western spotted skunk.

Spotted skunk track. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2004.

Western spotted skunk track made when the animal stepped in a puddle, then onto a painted wooden deck.

Spotted skunk tracks. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2004.

Same skunk track as above, but with my keys for scale.


Spotted skunk track from soot plate. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2001.

A spotted skunk track gathered on a sooted bait plate during a wildlife survey.

western spotted skunk

Personal Notes on Spotted Skunks

The spotted skunk in the photos above showed up under my porch one night, not too long after I rescued it from a garbage can into which it had fallen. It had likely been in the garbage can for several days by the time I found it and it was starving. I fed it several bowls of cat food and gave it some water before I released it. It didn't threaten me and never showed aggression. It simply ate, like any starving animal will. Then, once it had eaten and drank its fill, I gently tipped over the can and released it. It wandered over, sniffed my foot, and then waddled away. I didn't see it until a few nights later when it peered in my screen door. My cats didn't know what to make of it. I went outside and got a couple photos of it. It hid under the building and just watched me. Since then, I have occasionally found spotted skunk tracks around and I always think of this little one.
western spotted skunk

Spotted Skunk Tracks


Updated: Friday, January 29, 2016.


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Copyright © 1997, 2008, 2016. Text, photos, and drawings by Kim A. Cabrera