The spray of a skunk is nasty stuff — it stinks! It’s often described as smelling like rotten eggs, burnt rubber or sulfur. The odour is so powerful it can be smelled up to a kilometre away. The smell comes from chemicals in the skunk’s spray called thiol compounds. The spray also contains other forms of these chemicals that don’t smell as much when they’re first sprayed — but that smell worse when mixed with water.
To raise their stink, skunks secrete a thick, oily yellow fluid from two glands at the base of their tails. But they spray only as a last resort to defend themselves. Skunks are not normally aggressive. If agitated, they will hiss or growl, stamp their feet or even stand on their front two paws, showing off their black and white markings. They spray only if these other signals don’t work. Still, you want to keep your distance from skunks. When they spray, the mist can hit targets six metres away.