||The Mammals of Texas -
Eastern Hog-nosed Skunk
Carnivora : Family Mustelidae :
Conepatus leuconotus (Lichtenstein)
Description. Largest of the
North American skunks; superficially resembling the
inland species, Conepatus mesoleucus, but larger; white stripe on back much
narrower, wedge-shaped rather than truncate at anterior
end and reduced or absent on the rump; upperside of tail
white, underside blackish basally, but white toward tip.
Dental formula as in C. mesoleucus. External
measurements average: (males), total length, 825 mm;
tail, 362 mm; hind foot, 85 mm; (females), 700-295-75 mm.
Distribution in Texas.
Restricted to the Gulf coastal plains of South Texas and
northeastern Mexico south to central Veracruz. Specimens
are available from the following Texas counties: Aransas,
Brooks, Cameron, Kleberg, Nueces, San Patricio, and Webb.
Habits. Little is known about
the habitat or habits of this skunk, but it is presumed
they are similar to those of the common hog-nosed skunk, C.
mesoleucus. The species has been collected or
observed in the following habitat types in South Texas:
live oak brush, mesquite brushland, and improved pasture
within semi-open native grassland. The stomachs of three
specimens collected in Veracruz, Mexico, were filled with
insect remains, but the skunks are also thought to eat
small vertebrates and fruit.
Remarks. All evidence suggests
this skunk is extremely rare and in need of protection.
Most records are from biological surveys of the mid-1800s
to the mid-1900s, and there is a growing consensus among
professional mammalogists that the population level of
this species in Texas has declined drastically during the
past few decades. Out of 27,446 steel trap-days from a
study of predator control in Kleberg County over a
two-year period, Sam Beasom only captured two of these
skunks. The reasons for the population decline are
unknown at this time, but the species has been afforded
category 2 status (in need of careful watching) on the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service endangered species list.
The taxonomic status of the eastern
hog-nosed skunk is also uncertain. Many well known
mammalogists have speculated that it is merely a
subspecific variant of the common hog-nosed skunk, C.