The Eastern Spotted Skunk (Spilogale putorius) is this week's featured fauna from the forthcoming Wildlife of the Mid-Atlantic by John H. Rappole.
According to Rappole, "the purpose of the Spotted Skunk's handstand posture is to make a possible attacker aware of the skunk's intention to spray it if attacked - like a dog baring its teeth as an expression of being ready to bite." The skunk is also known to stamp out a warning with its feet before spritzing would be agressors with its pungent musk, which is said to be stronger than that of Striped skunk.
In spite of these formidable defenses, the Eastern Spotted Skunk is listed as "possibly extirpated from Pennsylvania" by the state's Game Commission.
Wildlife of the Mid-Atlantic: A Complete Reference Manual is scheduled for release in mid July. John H. Rappole is a Research Scientist at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park's Conservation and Research Center. He is the author of twelve books, including Birds of the Mid-Atlantic Region and The Ecology of Migrant Birds.