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  The Mammals of Texas - Online Edition

Hooded Skunk
Order Carnivora : Family Mustelidae : Mephitis macroura Lichtenstein

Description. Superficially similar to the striped skunk, Mephitis mephitis, but differs in having longer, softer fur and a distinct ruff of longer hair on the upper neck. Two color patterns: a white-backed phase with upperparts chiefly white, frequently with two narrow, short white stripes on each side behind shoulder, and underparts black or mottled with white; and a black-backed phase with upperparts black, except for two narrow lateral white stripes, and underside of tail frequently white (occasionally tail wholly black, but bases of hairs always white). In the white-backed phase, a broad white band begins between the eyes and covers most of the back and upper surface of the tail; the white stripe never bifurcates as in the striped skunk. Differs from the hog-nosed skunk in much finer fur, small snout, smaller size, and much longer tail. Dental formula as in the spotted skunk. External measurements of an adult male: total length, 700 mm; tail, 377 mm; hind foot, 69 mm; of adult female, 650-370-60 mm. Weight of males, 800-900 g; of females, 400-700 g.

Distribution in Texas. Mainly a Mexican species. Occurs in Texas in the Big Bend region and adjacent parts of the central Trans-Pecos. Recorded definitely only from Brewster, Pecos, Presidio, Jeff Davis, Ward, and Reeves counties.

Habits. These slender, "white-sided" skunks occur along stream courses where they resort to rocky ledges or tangles of streamside vegetation for safety. Occasionally they resort to burrows in the banks of washes. One captured in Brewster County, Texas, was trapped in a heavy stand of willows along the sandy banks of Tornillo Creek. It had been feeding in that vicinity in company with hog-nosed skunks.

Little is known of the natural history of hooded skunks, which are the rarest of the skunks in Trans-Pecos Texas. Males and females are in breeding condition from the middle of February to the last of March. Two litters, each consisting of three individuals, have been recorded. Hooded skunks are primarily insectivorous, although they also eat some vertebrates (shrews and rodents) as well as plant materials (prickly pear fruit).

The fur of this animal is much longer and softer than that of any other skunk, but it does not command a high price on the fur market.