Skunks get a bad rap– their smell makes them unwelcome guests in people’s yards and neighborhoods. But if you get past the stink, these animals are pretty sweet.

Skunks are distant relatives of dogs, and their closer relatives include otters, weasels, and badgers. They even share a common ancestor with sea lions and seals. Their closest relatives, though, are animals called stink badgers, which are found on some islands in the Pacific Ocean. 

Skunks produce an awful-smelling spray to keep predators away from them; their bold black-and-white coloring helps warn off predators too. Western spotted skunks take an extra step to frighten off predators before spraying: they do a hand-stand, rearing up on their front legs with their hind legs in the air!

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