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  The Mammals of Texas - Online Edition

Eastern Hog-nosed Skunk
Order 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. mesoleucus.