Skunks have a distinct smell that is one of the most recognizable animal scents in the world. They have developed this foul-smelling spray as a means of deterring predators that may view them as potential prey. Skunks are able to accurately aim their spray, and can cover a wide area. It is a very effective defensive mechanism. However, it also leaves a persistent odor that can be difficult to wash off. If sprayed in the eyes, it can cause temporary blindness.
Despite their lack of natural predators, skunks are still very vulnerable in the wild and can easily become road kill if they run out in front of vehicles. In addition, skunks are susceptible to attacks from hawks and eagles, which have been known to pluck skunks out of their dens. The skunks main defense is their ability to spray their foul-smelling musk, but they must be careful not to use it too often. The glands that produce the fluid only hold a limited amount of this pungent compound. Once skunks empty their reservoir, it can take up to 10 days for them to regenerate a new supply.
Skunks will generally only resort to their spray attack if they are startled or feel threatened by a person or animal. They can usually be avoided by staying at a distance and not making sudden movements around them. This is especially important if you are walking your dog, as skunks have poor eyesight and will mistake dogs for predators.