Stinky Situation: Why Do Skunks Have a Nasty Spray

Skunks aren’t encountered by people very often. But when they are, the unlucky passerby better watch out. Skunks are notorious for their one-of-a-kind spray, which is known for its gut-wrenching odor and ability to linger for long periods of time. 

Here’s what you need to know about skunk spray.

What is Skunk Spray?

Skunk spray isn’t solely for stinking up the air. Skunks use it as a defense mechanism against predators. It is an oily, yellow substance that is secreted from their anal glands. Skunks are nocturnal animals, which means they mainly come out at night.

However, the dark isn’t always enough to keep skunks safe. Predators often rely on scent to hunt their prey, and the skunk is not an exception to this. They still give off a smell that makes them a target.

But skunks can easily ward off their attackers with this spray. Due to the potency of skunk spray, it can do a lot more than cause a stink. Similar to tear gas, skunk spray can irritate a person’s eyes and nose, cause tears and nausea. Another myth is that regarding skunk spray is that it can kill you. However, this is not true. It will just make you smell horrific.

How to Deal With Skunk Spray

Luckily, skunks aren’t exactly the aggressive type that actively seeks out victims to spray. Otherwise, being sprayed by one would be more common. However, you never know what could happen the next time you’re outside, so it’s important to be prepared. If you or someone you know is sprayed by a skunk, you need to take action immediately.

The first thing to do is to immediately hop in the bath or shower. Thoroughly scrub yourself using a deodorizing soap or a dish detergent that can get rid of grease. A shampoo that’s mainly used for oily hair is also recommended.

baking soda gets rid of skunks spraySource: Shutterstock
Source: Shutterstock

Soaking in the bath with baking soda is also an option. You’ll need to add at least two cups, but you can increase to four if necessary. Do what is listed above and soak in the tub for about 20 minutes.

One thing that’s worth pointing out is the efficacy of tomato juice. It’s a common misconception among people that soaking in it gets rid of the smell. Tomato juice cannot get rid of the smell of skunk spray. However, it does mask the scent for a while.

People aren’t the only ones who can get “skunked.” Pets are also vulnerable to the foul odor. To get rid of the odor for your pet, you’re going to need 1/2 cup of baking soda, a quart of hydrogen peroxide, and a teaspoon of baby shampoo. Suds and lather as you would yourself and then rinse.

Being skunked doesn’t happen often, but when it does, not only does it stink, it can also hurt. The best course of action is to stay as far away from skunks as possible. If you happened to get sprayed, follow the information above as soon as possible.


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