Wondering Why?

Why do Skunks smell so bad?

Why do Skunks smell so bad?

The bad smell that comes out of the skunks is not actually released from their body and skin. But, it will originate from the substance they secrete as a spray which is used for self protection. They release this spray from the region that is under their tails and make it spread to at least ten feet away. The musk of the skunk consists of chemicals which give out a bad smell. The bad smell that comes out of the skunk causes feelings like headaches, burning of eyes, throwing up. The smell will be so strong that it is difficult to avoid it by being near to it.
It is said that skunks release this odor containing chemical from their scent glands at the time of stress or attack. The smell of the spray released by skunk is due to the presence of sulfurous compounds which are called as thiols. The thiols get initiated to form a substance called mercaptan. The thiols themselves have very strong smell and when they mix with other chemicals they make the scent released to be still more strong and bad. That is the reason why the skunks will retain the odor even few days after releasing the scent as it sticks to the fur for long time. The specific thiols present in the scent are Crotyl mercaptan, isopentyl mercaptan, and trans-2-butenyl thioacetate. Generally degradation of proteins will result in thiols, in nature. The decomposed flesh and feces also give out thiols to make them smell bad. All animals usually do not like the odor of thiols.
The skunks release the scent only when they are attacked or when they are afraid of something. The bad smell of the skunks is due to the thiols released from their scent glands at very high concentrations. In fact, the thiols in low concentrations will not be too bad, but at high concentrations will tend to stink. This bad smell given by the skunks will protect them from other animals and human beings. The skunk spray is used after removing thiols from it for retaining the sticky nature of the cosmetics and perfumes.


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