Is That Skunk?
Video: Skunk Spray Chemistry

Professor William Wood of Humboldt State University examined the chemical properties of skunk spray samples. He discovered several new compounds in the skunk spray, including a thiol. A thiol is a type of sulfur-based compound found in garlic and onions. Watch video.

  • Simon

    An animal control officer found what she thought was a rabid skunk. It was spraying itself, yelling, biting everything. They needed to preserve the head and send it to the lab. They decided to shoot it in the neck with a gun. The spark from the gun ignited the skunk. We were baffled. Now I realize that the skunk had spray all over her body which is what ignited. There was an instant one foot tall blame which we had to extinguish.

  • Daci

    I wanted a skunk when I was a kid and I nagged my parents relentlessly till I got one…A lovely adult female named Honey whose owners had lost interest in.
    She was an extremely gentle and friendly animal who loved resting in a lap and being petted.
    I’d have another but I live in a skunk unfriendly state now. (NC)
    I truly do love skunks and it’s a shame that they and rats (which also make awesome pets) are so misunderstood.
    I’m really tired of all the nature shows on big carnivores and reptiles.
    It’s time to focus on species you have never focused on before.
    The skunk is a great start.

  • Stephanie Szmuc

    I agree with you Daci. How does that saying go, oh ya (skunks need love too.) My skunk Lacie doesn’t smell at all.

  • Deborah Cipriani

    We live with a few non-descended skunks and many descended skunks. We educate humans on Skunk Awareness and teach them skunks do not spray just like that. Skunks give warning signs before they spray such as stomping, and fluffing their bodies up to make them bigger than what they are. They are peaceful animals and show no fear.
    We love our skunks with their scent sac’s or with out! Thank you to all who made this film happen and the stars of the film, the SKUNKS!!!
    We hope more people take a positive interest in our skunks.

  • Sebastian Miller

    It is quite amazing the way people go on about how awful the smell of Skunk scent is. In the real world of nasty smells Skunk is pretty innocuous. As Professor Wood has discovered, it reminds me of garlic and onion, and has the same burning effect on the eyes and skin. It is of course stronger smelling and more pungent.
    For a real gut retching smell, try rotting flesh!

  • Tanya

    When you stop and really think about it, this is quite amazing. An animal with its own built-in defense. Its something to marvel at, not destroy out of fear. Personally, I don’t think the smell is as bad as some smells that come from the human world.

  • Bonny Gatchel

    Had a yuckster boss, come to work to see a drop(skunkish) on my pristine lab bench…never again when he pulled hanky from his labcoat pocket at lunch! ;-)) As for big carnivores: More!!That’s the thrill of science, you can never know it all. Re lions: what causes some females to go rogue and kill lion cubs?

  • Share Bond

    I have been teaching people in California, as well as around the nation, how to coexist with skunks, through the media, outreach programs, and on my SKUNKS Scentral web site Trapping and relocating or killing skunks does not solve the problems people have with them, but removing pet food and close off under their house does. By the way, I’ve never been sprayed by a skunk and have dealt with every skunk situation imaginable. It actually takes a LOT to get a skunk to spray. I teach animal control officers and other people that have encounters with them how not to get sprayed. That’s one of the reasons why I’m writing the book “The Skunk Whisperer” . . .

  • Lacy

    Did some one write down the recipe for getting rid of the smell? I would love to have it on file.

  • Becky

    I’m with Lacy—–DID SOMEONE WRITE IT DOWN FOR GETTING RID OF SMELL? I got hydrogen peroxide 3%, baking soda, water BUT DON’T KNOW THE RATIOS—I also know NOT TO GET IT IN THE EYES OF PETS and rinse after 5 minutes—-NEED TO KNOW HOW MUCH OF EACH INGREDIENT TO MIX—–HELP!!!! Thank you!

  • Suzanne Burda

    I would also like the recipe for getting rid of the skunk smell. I tried to write it down but didn’t get
    all of it. My dogs have been sprayed in the past & nothing worked very well. thanks!

  • suzie p

    same as above didnt get the ratios of the ingredents for the skunk rinse

  • Ken Farnsworth

    One 16 ounce bottle of hydrogen peroxide and about a quarter cup of baking soda with about a teaspoon of soap. I usually go 50/50 and make a paste (easier to work in and the liquid does not run away so fast). Thanks for including Humboldt State in the program! (although I had more of a problem with Raccoons in Arcata than skunks).

  • Sandie

    Paul Kreabaum, an Illinois Chemist actually discoverd the formula for the removal of skunk spray.
    It is:
    1 quart 3% peroxide
    1/4 cup baking soda
    1 tsp. liquid dish detergent
    Mix gently in an open container never placing a lid on the container, the formula generates gases that expand. Use mixture on pet and let sit five minutes before rinsing. You can shampoo after rinsing if you care to.
    Discard any unused formula, always use a fresh mixture.
    Never get formula in the eyes of your pet. I use a washcloth around the face area.

    Always for the Animals,

  • anne

    Not about skunks but about smells. I have a cat with separation anxiety and she urinates on the basement floor if I go out of town. I’ve tried scouring down the area with enzymatic cleaners but it still smells. I wondered if this mixture would work and/or if there would be a problem using it indoors in an area with a furnace and a water heater. Thoughts?


  • Sandie

    You can use this to clean areas a pet may have rubbed against such as furniture, walls and rugs. Tes it can be used inside as a cleaner. I have used this mixture for other purposes such as cleaning a urine spot and it has worked well. Always be careful when using peroxide on dark fabrics as it may lighten them. Test when you can. Just mix a small amount to try then dispose of it.

  • J Firmiss

    Wow… years ago I used to run a web site about skunks & possums but had to give that up. Just about everyone in these videos is familiar to me however I’ve never seen their faces before. — Glad to see they’re all still at it.

  • Linda

    Loved the show, and got the formula. We will be ready next time.

  • Sandie

    J Firmess;
    I contacted you a couple of years ago. Glad to see you are still around also.

  • Matt in the UK

    I am really curious to know what it actually smells like. My guess is that it is something like the smell of pee after eating asparagus, but much, much stronger. Is there anywhere I can get “essence of skunk”?

  • iefjdwf

    if skunk sprayed a person would the person smell

  • Myche Worth

    Humboldt Skunk?

  • margaret barnum

    i’ve never had to use it but i have always bin told tomatoe juice bath worked

  • David Saunders

    I don’t know if it has any scientific value, but an interesting anecdote my father used to tell about when he was about 5 years old, heading off to school in a new coat that his parents has bought for him. Walking home he happened across a mother skunk and a bunch of baby skunks. He was curious, got too close and got his new coat sprayed. His mom tried washing it several times to no avail, then left it hanging out in the shed to air out. But some 15 or 20 years later, my father, now grown and having moved away from home, was back for a visit. He happened across that little coat still hanging out in the shed and still stinking of skunk smell. A testimony to the apparent chemical stability of skunk scent.

  • Glenn Stahl

    Want skunks? Come to East Tennessee for we have them. They dig these 2″ holes EVERYWHERE! Including the stone barn path. I leave them be assuming they seek grubs. And that’s good. Oh did I say we have grubs? June Bugs, Japanese Beetles, etc. Go Skunks!

  • เตาฝัง

    thank for share ^-^

  • Sgt Fury

    I am sitting smelling fresh skunk wafting in from my backyard. The neighbor “loves these little cuddly critters”, and she feeds them, the raccoons, the possums and the pigeons. For two weeks solid every single night the Skunks would mate or fight and ignite their afterburners. This was usually around 1-3am, and needless to say we have not been getting much sleep here.

    City Ordinance says no shooting firearms or air rifles. They also say no relocating of the varmints. But I can trap them and drown them, poison them or find some other creative way to kill them.

    The neighbor is going to continue feeding the varmints, and they are not going to go away on their own. I have too much money invested in this place to leave. And so it’s going to be the Skunks that are going away. Animal Control will get them.

    Trap goes out tomorrow night. Anyone who wants a skunk can pull their car up to my driveway, and I’ll happily deposit skunks in your trunk.

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