A Skunks Fur Coat Can Effectively Ward-Off Predators | New Jersey Skunk Removal

A Skunks Fur Coat Can Effectively Ward-Off Predators | New Jersey Skunk Removal

We all know that a skunk will spray anything that it regards as a potential threat, but maybe many animals are repelled by skunks for different reasons. A wildlife expert from the University of California, Jennifer Hunter, claims that simply being black and white could help skunks survive.

It is not that animals have an innate distaste for anything that is strikingly black and white; rather many animals have learned to avoid skunks by observing their black and white coats. Hunter learned this by placing taxidermy foxes and skunks in their natural habitat. What she discovered surprised her.

Hunter placed some foxes that were spray-painted black and white in a raccoons habitat, and she placed some in a habitat where raccoons were not as common. In areas where raccoons were not common, other animals, such as bears, bobcats and coyotes, would approach the stuffed and painted foxes and lick them. Eventually the foxes that looked like raccoons were dragged off by the playful animals. However, in regions where raccoons were more common, animals in the environment made a point to avoid the skunky-looking foxes.

As a result of this experiment, Hunter and her colleagues now know that the black and white coat of skunks alone is enough to scare off predators. Animals avoid skunks only when they have experienced the negative consequences of being sprayed. Once a skunk has established itself in an environment by spraying its enemies, all animals in the environment learn that the black and white creature is to be avoided.

This study raises the question of whether or not there exists any animal that eats skunks since so many animals in the study, even larger predators, avoided the black and white stuffed-animals. If skunks don't ever get attacked or eaten by other animals, a definite possibility, then there species would be unique in that only food supply and disease determines would their population sizes, and not predation.

Do you think that any of the animals in the study learned that the objects were stuffed and not living?

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