Hog-nosed skunk

Last updated

Hog-nosed skunk
An illustration of a hog-nosed skunk by Louis Agassiz Fuertes.
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Mephitidae
Genus: Conepatus
Gray, 1837
Conepatus areas.png
Conepatus ranges

The hog-nosed skunks belong to the genus Conepatus and are members of the family Mephitidae (skunks). They are native to the Americas. They have white backs and tails and black underparts. [1]



ImageScientific nameCommon NameDistribution
Chingue (Conepatus chinga) Inao Vasquez 001.jpg Conepatus chinga Molina's hog-nosed skunk Chile, Peru, northern Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, and southern Brazil
Zorrillo.jpg Conepatus humboldtii Humboldt's hog-nosed skunk Patagonian regions of South Argentina
Penelope Le Pew (22498409483).jpg Conepatus leuconotus American hog-nosed skunk Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua
Conepatus semistriatus.jpg Conepatus semistriatus striped hog-nosed skunk southern Mexico to northern Peru, and in the extreme east of Brazil

Recent work has concluded that the western hog-nosed skunk or common hog-nosed skunk (formerly Conepatus mesoleucus) is the same species as the American hog-nosed skunk, and that Conepatus leuconotus is the correct name of the merged populations. [2] [3]


Conepatus humboldtii Brehms Het Leven der Dieren Zoogdieren Orde 4 Surilho (Mephitis suffocans).jpg
Conepatus humboldtii

The individual hog-nosed skunk species vary in size, but among them is included the largest of all skunks. All are characterized by comparatively short hair, especially on the tail, and this appendage lacks the plumelike appearance observed in other skunks. The nose is prolonged into a distinct "snout", naked on the top and sides and evidently used for rooting in the earth after the manner of a pig. In addition, the front feet are armed with long, heavy claws. The claws are well developed for digging up insect prey. [4] and the front legs and shoulders are provided with a strong muscular development for digging, as in a badger. This likeness has led to the use in some places of the appropriate name "badger skunk" for these animals. The extent of the stripe on the hind of the skunk, and the color of the tail underside suggests a distinction between eastern and western species. The eastern species is a narrow stripe, with black under the base of the tail. The western distinction is a wide stripe, with a predominantly white tail. The hair on these skunks is coarse and harsh, lacking the qualities which render the coats of their northern relatives so valuable. They are nocturnal. [4]

Before the merge of the American hog-nosed skunks, the eastern hog-nosed skunk, Conepatus leuconotus is typically larger than the western hog-nosed skunk, Conepatus mesoleucus. Female eastern hog-nosed skunks range from 58 to 74 cm in length and 19–34 cm in height. They weigh between 2.0 and 4.0 kg. Male hog-nosed skunks range from 56 to 92 cm in length and 22–41 cm in height. They weigh on average between 3.0 and 4.5 kg. The western hog-nosed skunk ranged from 40 to 84 cm in length, 13–35 cm in height, and 1.1-2.7 kg. Males are larger than females and can occasionally reach 4.5 kg. [4] The teeth are smaller in C. mesoleucus than in C. leuconotus. [5]


The eastern hog-nosed skunk is found only in Southern Texas, Veracruz, Mexico, and Arizona [4] [5] The Molina hog-nosed skunk, also known as the Andean hog-nosed skunk (C. chinga), is found in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Peru, and Uruguay. [6] Humboldt's hog-nosed skunk, also known as the Patagonian hog-nosed skunk (C. humboldtii) finds its habitat in the open grassy areas in the Patagonian regions of Chile and Argentina. [7] The western hog-nosed skunk (C. mesoleucus) is found in, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Sierra Guadalupe, Coahuila, Colima, Honduras, Sonora, and Nicaragua. [5] The striped hog-nosed skunk, C. semistriatus, is found in Veracruz, Costa Rica, and Guatemala. [5]


Where their range coincides with that of the common skunks, the local distribution of the two is practically the same. They live along the bottom-lands of watercourses, where vegetation is abundant and the supply of food most plentiful, or in canyons and on rocky mountain slopes.

For their protection hog-nosed skunks create their own burrows, generally within a bank, or beneath a rock, or the roots of a tree, but do not hesitate to take possession of the deserted burrows of other animals, or of natural cavities among the rocks. Owing to their strictly nocturnal habits, they are generally much less frequently seen than the common skunks, even in localities where they are numerous. Sightings are recorded from brush habitat and semi-open grasslands. Habitats may also include rocky terrain and stream beds in desert-scrub and mesquite grassland.

Infrequent sightings of the American hog-nosed skunk raise concerns over its conservation status. [4]

Feeding habits

Although both the spotted skunks and common skunks live mainly on insects, the hog-nosed skunks are even more insectivorous in their feeding habits. The bare snout appears to be used constantly for the purpose of rooting out beetles, beetle larvae (or grubs), and larvae of various insects from the ground.

Related Research Articles

Coati Species of mammal

Coatis, also known as coatimundis, are members of the family Procyonidae in the genera Nasua and Nasuella. They are diurnal mammals native to South America, Central America, Mexico, and the southwestern United States. The name coatimundi purportedly derives from the Tupian languages of Brazil.

Skunk Common name of mammals in the family Mephitidae

Skunks are North and South American mammals in the family Mephitidae. While related to polecats and other members of the weasel family, skunks have as their closest Old World relatives the stink badgers. The animals are known for their ability to spray a liquid with a strong, unpleasant smell. Different species of skunk vary in appearance from black-and-white to brown, cream or ginger colored, but all have warning coloration.


The cacomistle is a nocturnal, arboreal and omnivorous member of the carnivoran family Procyonidae. Its preferred habitats are wet, tropical, evergreen woodlands and mountain forests, though seasonally it will venture into drier deciduous forests.

Eastern spotted skunk

The eastern spotted skunk is a small, relatively slender skunk found in North America, throughout the eastern United States and in small areas of Canada and Mexico.

Tehuantepec jackrabbit

The Tehuantepec jackrabbit is easily distinguished from other species of jackrabbits by two black stripes that run from the base of the ears to the nape, and by its white flanks. Underparts are white, upperparts are bright-brown washed with black, rump is gray, and the tail is black. This leporid is one of the largest jackrabbits and has large ears and legs. Adults weigh about 3500 to 4000 grams.

Striped hog-nosed skunk

The striped hog-nosed skunk is a skunk species from Central and South America. This species of skunk is considered a generalist species because they are able to thrive in and withstand disturbed environmental conditions. They can live in a wide range of habitats including carrasco, arboreal caatinga, mango orchard, and dry forest scrub and occasionally, in rainforest.

Molinas hog-nosed skunk

Molina's hog-nosed skunk is similar to the common skunk with scent glands used to spray an odorous liquid to offend potential predators. They have a resistance to pit viper venom, distinct thin white markings and a pink, hog-like, fleshy nose.

Hog badger

The hog badger, also known as the greater hog badger, is a terrestrial mustelid native to Central and Southeast Asia. It is listed as Vulnerable in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species because the global population is thought to be declining due to high levels of poaching.

Hooded skunk

The hooded skunk is a species of mammal in the family Mephitidae. Mephītis in Latin means "foul odor", μακρός (makrós) in Greek translates to "long" and οὐρά (ourá) translates to "tail".

Western spotted skunk

The western spotted skunk is a spotted skunk of western North America.

Humboldts hog-nosed skunk

Humboldt's hog-nosed skunk, also known as the Patagonian hog-nosed skunk, is a type of hog-nosed skunk indigenous to the open grassy areas in the Patagonian regions of South Argentina and Chile. It belongs to the order Carnivora and the family Mephitidae.

American hog-nosed skunk species of mammal

The American hog-nosed skunk is a species of hog-nosed skunk from Central and North America, and is one of the largest skunks in the world, growing to lengths of up to 2.7 feet (82 cm). Recent work has concluded the western hog-nosed skunk is the same species, and Conepatus leuconotus is the correct name of the merged populations.

Southern spotted skunk species of mammal in the skunk family

The southern spotted skunk is a species of mammal in the skunk family, (Mephitidae). It ranges from Costa Rica to southern Mexico. At one time this skunk was considered to be a subspecies of the eastern spotted skunk.

Stripe-throated hermit Species of bird

The stripe-throated hermit is a species of hummingbird from Central America and north-western South America. It is generally fairly common and considered Least Concern by BirdLife International.


  1. Skunk. Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6Th Edition [serial online]. October 2011;:1. Available from: Academic Search Premier, Ipswich, MA. Accessed November 29, 2011.
  2. Western Hog-nosed Skunk
  3. Cuarón AD, Helgen H (2008). "Conepatus leuconotus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species . 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-24.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 Kays, Roland (2002). Mammals of North America . Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. pp.  180–182. ISBN   0-691-07012-1.
  5. 1 2 3 4 Hall, Raymond (1981). The Mammals of North America Volume II. Canada: Wiley-Interscience Publication. pp. 1025–1028. ISBN   0-471-05444-5.
  6. Emmons, L. & Helgen, K. (2008). Conepatus chinga. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 29 November 2010.
  7. Zapata, Sonia C.; Travaini, Alejandro; Martínez-Peck, Rolando (2001). "Seasonal feeding habits of the Patagonian hog-nosed skunk Conepatus humboldtii in southern Patagonia". Acta Theriologica. 46: 97–102. doi:10.4098/at.arch.01-11.

This article incorporates text from the publication Wild Animals of North America, copyright 1918 by the National Geographic Society. This book is in the public domain.