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Hooded Skunk Mephitis macroura


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Hooded Skunk
credit: NPS

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Family: Mephitidae, Skunks view all from this family

Description Has soft fur, with a hood of long white hair on the nape. Head has one thin white stripe; back has either one wide white stripe, or two separated thin white stripes. Fur is much longer and softer than in other skunks. Tail is longer than that of the Striped Skunk.

Dimensions 56-79cm, 27-43cm, 800-900g; / 65cm, 37cm, 400-700g

Warning All skunks are highly developed for defense and can spray their foul-smelling musk distances of up to 15 feet. Besides its overpowering odor, the musk can burn the eyes and cause momentary loss of vision.

Breeding Unlike Striped Skunks, females normally do not den communally during the winter. Breeding season is February-March, and litter size ranges from 3 to 8. Lactation lasts through August.

Habitat Canyons & caves, Cities, suburbs & towns, Lakes, ponds, rivers & streams, Meadows & fields, Scrub, shrub & brushlands, Swamps, marshes & bogs

Range Southwest, Texas

Discussion More secretive than most skunks, rarely dens in man-made structures. Diet consists primarily of insects, small vertebrates, bird eggs, and fruit if available. They break chicken eggs by throwing them between their hind legs, football style. Small vertebrates are taken opportunistically as they make their nightly rounds. Forages among leaves and litter, pouncing on beetles and other insects as they scatter. Active year-round, but almost completely nocturnal and spends daylight hours sleeping in the den. Anal glands provide powerful defense mechanism, and they can spray many times in succession in a short period of time. Pre-spray behavior similar to that of M. mephitis, with foot stomping preceding full-scale spraying. Nightly foraging begins after dusk with routes following rock walls, streambeds, and other protected areas. Solitary except when females are with young, but several may come together at carrion sites. Prefers arid lowlands below 2500m, but also occurs in deciduous and coniferous forests, forest edges, pastures, rocky canyons, and riparian habitats.