Do skunks fight each other?

Skunks are generally not aggressive animals although they are not the friendliest when it comes to wildlife and they mostly keep to themselves. Most of the time when a skunk fights it's usually to save itself from a larger predator. However, this is totally different with other skunks. It is not uncommon to see two skunks fighting and it may be for several reasons.

Why do skunks fight?

To protect their territories
Like most wild animals, skunks are territorial animals and they do not like to see other skunks in their territories. If they come across another skunk, they will fight each other aggressively in hopes that the other gets the message and leaves.

Competing for females
Another reason skunks fight each other is to compete for female attention. During the mating season, male skunks try to attract females for mating. The issue begins when there is another male in the picture. The skunks then fight each other to compete for dominance over the female.

For mating
In striped skunks, the males have to induce ovulation by stimulating the female to produce eggs. The stimulation may seem violent and the female can fight the male if it does not want to breed with it.

For food
Both male and female skunk species will fight other skunks when it is competing with them for food. Skunks are mostly scavengers and they can spend the whole night trying to get food. It is not uncommon for other skunks to try and steal the food already gathered. This can lead to a fight.

For shelter
Skunks can create their own den but they do not mind using a den that has already been created by someone else. During winter, skunks are more tolerant to other skunks, allowing them to stay in the same den. However, beyond that, a skunk will get aggressive and fight any skunk that tries to come into its den.

How do skunks fight?

Showing warning signs
When they come face to face with another skunk, a skunk will still do the normal scare away ritual it performs on other predators in a bid to discourage the other skunk. The ritual involves a series of vocalizations, pounding on the ground with their paws, raising their tails, and so on.

Use of claws and teeth
Skunks have strong, sharp claws and razor sharp teeth that can be used to cause significant damage or even death when in a fight. If neither skunk backs down after a warning, it means that they are both claiming territory. This will result in a physical fight and the skunk that wins gets to keep the territory.

Using their spray
Skunks do not spray each other. They know that their distinctive foul-smelling spray is limited and they would rather spray it at predators than other skunks. After exhausting their spray reserve, it will take a couple of days to replenish it. A skunk will not want to take the chances of being defenseless when a real predator comes along. It will therefore use other means to fight off the competing skunk instead of spraying at it.

What to do if you find skunks fighting
If you come across two skunks in a fight, the best thing you can do is to stay clear of the fight. Do not try to approach and separate them. This is because even though they won't spray at themselves, they will not hesitate to spray at you if you interfere. They can also turn on you, scratching and biting you in the process. If you have a pet around, make sure that they stay clear of the fight to avoid being targeted by the skunks.

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