Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, North American Mammals
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Spilogale gracilis

Western Spotted Skunk

Order: Carnivora
Family: Mephitidae

Image of Spilogale gracilis
Spilogale gracilis - inset shows pattern variation among a family
Click to enlarge. (94 kb)

Conservation Status: Least Concern.

Eastern and Western Spotted Skunks were for years thought to be one and the same species, but they differ in an important detail of the reproductive process. In the Western Spotted Skunk, a very long period of delayed implantation occurs. The fertilized eggs begin to develop, then stop growing at a very early stage and float freely in the uterus. When they "implant," attaching to the uterine wall, growth begins again. Breeding occurs in September or October and the fertilized eggs remain on hold for 6-7 months. In March or April, development resumes, and two to six kits are born about a month later, coinciding with a plentiful food supply. The skunks are carnivorous, feeding on mice and other small mammals, insects, lizards, birds, and carrion. They also eat some vegetable matter.

Also known as:
Civet Cat, Hydrophobia Cat, Polecat

Sexual Dimorphism:
Males are 7%-10% larger than females.

Average: 425 mm males; 383 mm females
Range: 350-581 mm males; 320-470 mm females

Average: 700 g males; 400 g females
Range: 500-900 gm males; 200-600 gm females


Merriam, C.H., 1890.  Results of a biological survey of the San Francisco Mountain region and desert of the Little Colorado in Arizona. North American Fauna,, 3:1-136.


Mammal Species of the World

Distribution of Spilogale gracilis