Eastern Spotted Skunk (Spilogale putorious) or Striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis)

Skunks are small mammals, notorious for their ability to spray a liquid with a strong unpleasant odor, don’t worry there won’t be any onboard during an Everglades airboat tour, though you will be able to see some during said Everglades boat tours. They are closely related to the mink and weasel, but not as sleek and agile as their relatives. There are 11 different species, with the most common being the striped skunk.

Skunk Habitat

They are native to North America and can be found in Northern Mexico and as far north as Central Canada. They easily adapt to many different habitats, including woods, grasslands, brush, open prairies and developed areas. The perfect conditions to be seen during an Everglades tour. Skunks can be found in rural and urban areas as long as there is ample water supply, and rarely venture further than two miles from their homes.

Skunk Size & Appearance

They vary in size, ranging from 15.6 to 37 inches in length and weighing between 1 and 18 pounds. They have long bodies with short muscular legs and long front claws for digging. Although most skunks’ fur colors are black and white, some skunks are brown, grey or even cream colored. All skunks are striped, but the stripes may vary from a single thick stripe to two thinner stripes or even a series of spots and broken stripes. Use your time on Everglades tours to try and identify the differences in them!


Skunks are omnivores, meaning they eat both plants and animals and change their diets with the seasons. Animals that make up a skunk’s diet include insects and larvae, earthworms, grubs, small rodents, lizards, salamanders, frogs, snakes, birds, moles, eggs and honeybees. The rest of their diet consists of berries, roots, leaves, grasses, fungi and nuts. You and your friends might spot one having a meal during a group airboat tour or private airboat tour.

Scent Glands

Skunks are notorious for their scent glands, which they can use a defensive weapon. The glands produce a mixture of sulfur-containing chemicals, which have a highly offensive smell. The fluid’s odor is strong enough to fend away bears and other potential predators and can be extremely difficult to remove from clothing or skin. Their spray can be highly accurate at distances up to 10 feet and cause irritation and even temporary blindness.

Skunk Fun Facts

  • Some also have stripes on their legs, a fun game during Miami airboat tours is trying to spot them.
  • They are one of the primary predators of the honeybee. Using their thick fur to protect them from stings, the skunk scratches the outside of the beehive and eats the guard bee that’s comes out. Mother skunks teach their young this behavior.
  • They are solitary animals when not mating, you’re unlikely to see a pair of them together.
  • Skunks are not hibernators in the winter, but they do den in a dormant state for extended periods of time
  • When born, skunk babies (kits) are blind and deaf for about three weeks.
  • Though a well-known remedy, tons of tomato juice is needed to bathe away the smell of a skunk’s spray. The Humane Society recommends using a mixture of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and dishwashing liquid.
  • Keeping them as domesticated pets is illegal in most US states, so you won’t see any physically any Everglades boat.