On a recent hike, I walked through an area with a very distinct smell – skunk. And based on the stench, it seemed recent, though we were hiking during the day and skunks are nocturnal. Still, it was a powerful odor and I remained vigilant. Luckily, I never saw the skunk itself. But it made me wonder how many times a skunk can spray in a day. As in, if I had encountered the one who had recently sprayed, could it spray again?

The answer is yes, it can – roughly 4-5 more times. But the skunks do not have an unlimited supply of spray. It can take up to 10 days for a skunk to replenish its supply. And because the spray is the skunk’s only defense mechanism, they spray only as a last resort. They prefer to flee, stamp their feet, hiss, or growl. If that doesn’t work, they will raise their tail and wave it in warning.

If those attempts don’t work, though, skunks will spray. They spray comes from two anal scent glands under the tail and the skunk can squirt it 10-15 feet! It is an oily substance that can cause the victim temporary blindness, nausea, watery eyes, and, of course, a stench. Even baby skunks can spray, at about 8 days old. So now I’m left wondering, what was it that threatened the skunk near the trail but didn’t heed to warnings?