Humboldt's hog-nosed skunk

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Humboldt's hog-nosed skunk
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Mephitidae
Genus: Conepatus
C. humboldtii
Binomial name
Conepatus humboldtii
Gray, 1837
Humboldt's Hog-nosed Skunk area.png
Humboldt's hog-nosed skunk range

Humboldt's hog-nosed skunk (Conepatus humboldtii), 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. It belongs to the order Carnivora and the family Mephitidae.



This skunk is small and stocky, with a bare nose elongated for the purpose of finding ground beetles, grasshoppers and crickets [2] . Its fur is brownish-red with two symmetrical stripes on either side, extending to the tail. It ranges from 30–34 cm in body length, with a 17- to 21-cm tail. They usually weigh 1.5 to 3.0 kg. The skunk has long claws and well developed forelimbs in order to dig to locate prey [2] .


Its teeth are specialized for the consumption of invertebrates and fruit, their lower molars are adapted for crushing such resistant foods. Similar adaptation of the molars is seen in the South American gray fox [3] . Like all South American hog-nosed skunks, it is smaller with a more primitive skull and tooth structure than North American skunks [4] .

Habitat and Ecology

There is high pressure from intraguild predation on Patagonian hog nosed skunks. It is often preyed upon and targeted competitively by larger carnivorans such as the culpeo, chilla fox, Geoffrey's cat, pampas cat, Andean cat, and puma. It however is unlikely to target other carnivorans [5] .


Patagonian hog-nosed skunks are omnivorous, feeding primarily on insects but also on vertebrate prey, such as rodents and carrion during winters, when insects are less abundant [2] . Patagonian hog nosed skunks have also been known to eat fruit [3] .

Unlike other South American carnivorans it is less effected by competition from increased dietary homogenization in areas where native prey species has gone extinct due to its largely strictly insectivorous diet [6] .


Patagonian hog nosed skunks are crepuscular, active primarily at dawn and twilight. It does little in the way of active hunting, selecting prey that is easiest to capture. During the winter seasons it shifts from its open grassy habitats to shrubs, forests, and mountainous areas as insect populations decline to seek alternative food sources [2] .

Taxonomic status

C. humboldtii's and C. chinga's status as separate species is debated. There is a high degree of observed variation in coloration and pattern within the two species and observed differences are inconsistent [7] . Much of the variation in shape and size observed can be attributed to environmental influence [7] . Morphological comparisons show a wide overlap in skull and mandibular structure, as well [7] .

Related Research Articles

Carnivora order of mammals

Carnivora is a diverse scrotiferan order that includes over 280 species of placental mammals. Its members are formally referred to as carnivorans, whereas the word "carnivore" can refer to any meat-eating organism. Carnivorans are the most diverse in size of any mammalian order, ranging from the least weasel, at as little as 25 g (0.88 oz) and 11 cm (4.3 in), to the polar bear, which can weigh up to 1,000 kg (2,200 lb), to the southern elephant seal, whose adult males weigh up to 5,000 kg (11,000 lb) and measure up to 6.7 m (22 ft) in length.

Mephitidae family of mammals known for their odor

Mephitidae is a family of mammals comprising the skunks and stink badgers. They are noted for the great development of their anal scent glands, which they use to deter predators.

Skunk Common name of mammals in the family Mephitidae

Skunks are North and South American mammals in the family Mephitidae. Mephitidae means 'stink' which is how skunks got their name. 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.

Caniformia suborder of mammals

Caniformia is a suborder within the order Carnivora. They typically possess a long snout and nonretractile claws. The Pinnipedia are also assigned to this group. The center of diversification for Caniformia is North America and northern Eurasia. This contrasts with the feliforms, the center of diversification of which was in Africa and southern Asia.

Hog-nosed skunk genus of mammals

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.

South American gray fox species of mammal

The South American gray fox, also known as the Patagonian fox, the chilla or the gray zorro, is a species of Lycalopex, the "false" foxes. It is endemic to the southern part of South America.

Striped hog-nosed skunk species of mammal

The striped hog-nosed skunk is a skunk species from Central and South America. It lives in a wide range of habitats including dry forest scrub and occasionally, in rainforest.

Molinas hog-nosed skunk species of mammal

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.

Patagonian opossum the southernmost living marsupial in the world

The Patagonian opossum(Lestodelphys halli) is the sole species in genus Lestodelphys.

Palawan stink badger species of mammal

The Palawan stink badger, or pantot, is a carnivoran of the western Philippines named for its resemblance to badgers, its powerful smell, and the largest island to which it is native, Palawan. Like all stink badgers, the Palawan stink badger was once thought to share a more recent common ancestor with badgers than with skunks. Recent genetic evidence, however, has led to their re-classification as one of the Mephitidae, the skunk family of mammals. It is the size of a large skunk or small badger, and uses its badger-like body to dig by night for invertebrates in open areas near patches of brush. While it lacks the whitish dorsal patches typical of its closest relatives, predators and hunters generally avoid the powerful noxious chemicals it can spray from the specialized anal glands characteristic of mephitids.

Feliformia suborder of mammals in the order Carnivora

Feliformia is a suborder within the order Carnivora consisting of "cat-like" carnivorans, including cats, hyenas, mongooses, civets, and related taxa. Feliformia stands in contrast to the other suborder of Carnivora, Caniformia.

Pygmy spotted skunk species of mammal

The pygmy spotted skunk is a species of mammal in the family Mephitidae. It is endemic to Mexico.

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.

Humboldt may refer to:

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.

Intraguild predation

Intraguild predation, or IGP, is the killing and sometimes eating of potential competitors. This interaction represents a combination of predation and competition, because both species rely on the same prey resources and also benefit from preying upon one another. Intraguild predation is common in nature and can be asymmetrical, in which one species feeds upon the other, or symmetrical, in which both species prey upon each other. Because the dominant intraguild predator gains the dual benefits of feeding and eliminating a potential competitor, IGP interactions can have considerable effects on the structure of ecological communities.

Bosque Andino Patagónico Forest in Chile and Argentina

The Bosque Andino Patagónico is a type of temperate to cold forest located in southern Chile and western Patagonia in Chile and Argentina at the southern end of South America. The climate here is influenced by humid air masses moving in from the Pacific Ocean which lose most of their moisture as they rise over the Andes. The flora is dominated by trees, usually of the genus Nothofagus.

Patagonian grasslands Ecoregion in the south of Chile, Argentina and the Falkland Islands

The Patagonian grasslands (NT0804) is an ecoregion in the south of Chile, Argentina and the Falkland Islands. The grasslands are home to diverse fauna, including several rare or endemic species of birds. There are few protected areas. The grasslands are threatened by overgrazing by sheep, which supply high-quality merino wool. Efforts are being made to develop sustainable grazing practices to avoid desertification.


  1. Emmons, L. & Helgen, K. (2008). "Conepatus humboldtii". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2008. International Union for Conservation of Nature . Retrieved 27 January 2009.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Zapata, Sonia C.; Travaini, Alejandro; Martínez-Peck, Rolando (January 2001), "Seasonal feeding habits of the Patagonian hog-nosed skunk Conepatus humboldtii in southern Patagonia", Acta Theriologica, 46: 97–102
  3. 1 2 Zapata, Sonia C.; Travaini, Alejandro; Martínez-Peck, Rolando (January 2001), "Seasonal feeding habits of the Patagonian hog-nosed skunk Conepatus humboldtii in southern Patagonia", Acta Theriologica, 46: 97–102
  4. Wang, X., & Carranza-Castañeda, Ó. (2008). Earliest hog-nosed skunk,Conepatus(Mephitidae, Carnivora), from the early Pliocene of Guanajuato, Mexico and origin of South American skunks. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 154(2), 386-407.
  5. Oliveira, T. G., & Pereira, J. A. (2013). Intraguild Predation and Interspecific Killing as Structuring Forces of Carnivoran Communities in South America. Journal of Mammalian Evolution, 21(4), 427-436.
  6. Palacios, R., Walker, R. S., & Novaro, A. J. (2012). Differences in diet and trophic interactions of Patagonian carnivores between areas with mostly native or exotic prey. Mammalian Biology - Zeitschrift für Säugetierkunde, 77(3), 183-189.
  7. 1 2 3 Schiaffini, M. I., Gabrielli, M., Prevosti, F. J., Cardoso, Y. P., Castillo, D., Bo, R., . . . Lizarralde, M. (2013). Taxonomic status of southern South AmericanConepatus(Carnivora: Mephitidae). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 167(2), 327-344.