Yep, this is what a skunk looks like the moment before it sprays you—all eyes and anus. However, if you’re lucky, before you get sprayed and run shrieking off into the night, this skunk will give you a dance and a handstand.
Spotted skunks aren’t as well-known as their striped relatives. They’re not as chic, they’re smaller, and they tend to come out only late at night—so people are less likely to see them. This is good news for all the evening and dawn dog-walkers who want to avoid a spraying. The leftover skunk smell that lingers where skunks have been is nothing compared to the concentrated smell. However, it does mean that people miss out on a show.
The spotted skunk is famous for its handstand. It will stomp, back up and then charge, and lift its hindquarters up slightly, before going into the full handstand. No one knows exactly why it does this. Some people believe it makes the skunk look bigger. Others think it’s just a way to make sure predators remember the actions that lead up to a spraying. If so, the dance is a win-win for both predator and skunk. The skunk doesn’t need to waste valuable, if bad-smelling resources, and predators know they shouldn’t mess with a skunk well before they get sprayed.
If the predator persists, the skunk has no choice but to fire. To do so, it does exactly what we see in the top image. It curls itself around, fixes its eyes and its anus on you, and sprays. It has special muscles which can aim its spray—so at least, you don’t have to worry about innocent bystanders getting hit.
If you get sprayed by a regular skunk, don’t feel too disappointed. Although they’re not as accomplished at doing handstands as spotted skunks, they also do a little dance. Take a look at the freestyle dance moves of these playful baby skunks.