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Overview

Brief Summary

Description

"The Hooded Skunk is a desert animal, preferring rocky canyons and valleys, and the vegetation along stream edges. It lives at elevations of less than 2,000 m above sea level. It forages at night for meals that may include small mammals, birds, and some plants, and it digs for beetles and other insects, which seem to be its preferred food. Striped, Spotted, and Hog-nosed skunks are all found within the Hooded Skunk's range. The four species coexist by adopting different behavioral and ecological strategies."

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Mammal Species of the World
  • Original description: Lichtenstein, H., 1832.  ber die Springm use oder die Arten der Gattung Dipus. Abhandlungen der Koniglichen Akademie der Wissenschaften in Berlin, pl. 46.
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Distribution

Mainly a species of Mexico. In the US, found in areas of intermediate elevation in New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native )

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Range Description

M. macroura occurs from the southern United States (southwestern Texas, southwestern New Mexico, and southeastern Arizona), throughout Mexico, into Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and northwest Costa Rica. (Hall, 1981; Janzen and Hallwachs, 1982; Reid, 1997; Rosatte, 1987).
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occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

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National Distribution

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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Global Range: Southern North America; from southwestern U.S. (southeastern and south-central Arizona, southern New Mexico, and western Texas) south to Costa Rica (Wozencraft, in Wilson and Reeder 1993; Hwang and Lariviere 2001).

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Physical Description

Morphology

Males usually weigh 800-900 g, while females weigh 400-700 g. Males are about 700mm in length, 377mm of which is the tail. Females are 650mm in length, 370mm of which is the tail. They are similar to striped skunk; however, Mephitis macroura has longer and softer fur. The upper neck has a distinct area of longer hair, leading to the common name "hooded skunk." The tail is also longer than that of the striped skunk. There are two known color patterns. In the first, the back of the skunk is entirely white in color while its underparts are black, sometimes with white areas. In the second, the back and underparts are black with two narrow lateral white stripes along the side. Frequently the underside of the tail is white. The stripes on the hooded skunk rarely divide into a "V" as in striped skunks.

Range mass: 400 to 900 g.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; bilateral symmetry

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Size

Length: 79 cm

Weight: 900 grams

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Size in North America

Sexual Dimorphism: Males are larger than females.

Length:
Range: "560-790 mm "

Weight:
Range: "820-1,200 g "
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Ecology

Habitat

Hooded skunks prefer intermediate elevations, above deserts but below high mountains. They are found in desert scrub, closed basin scrub, plains-mesa grassland, desert grassland, and riparian areas. They often inhabit vegetation along stream banks or rocky ledges of canyons.

Terrestrial Biomes: desert or dune ; savanna or grassland ; chaparral

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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
The hooded skunk is most common in the arid lowlands (Davis and Russell, 1954), but also occurs in deciduous or ponderosa forest, forest edges, pastures, rocky canyons, and riparian habitats (Baker, 1956; Findley et al., 1975; Janzen and Hallwachs, 1982). In Mexico, hooded skunks occupy home ranges of 2.8–5.0 km2 (Ceballos and Miranda, 1986). Typically, M. macroura occurs from sea level to 2,440 m (Hubbard, 1972), but it was also found at higher elevations in Mexico (Davis and Russell, 1954) and in Arizona (Hoffmeister, 1986). In Guerrero, Mexico, hooded skunks are widespread but scattered below 1,830 m (Davis and Lukens, 1958). The hooded skunk mainly consumes insects, fruits, small vertebrates, and bird eggs (Patton, 1974; Reid, 1997). This species seems to benefit from human distrurbed areas and can be abundant around human populations.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Comments: Inhabits rocky ledges or canyons and areas adjacent to streams. In Arizona, apparently prefers intermediate elevations, above deserts but not in highest mountains (Hoffmeister 1986).

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Migration

Non-Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species do not make significant seasonal migrations. Juvenile dispersal is not considered a migration.

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

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Trophic Strategy

Mostly eat insects. Sometimes eat vertebrates such as shrews and rodents. Also eat plant material such as prickly pear fruit.

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Comments: Feeds on insects and other invertebrates, small mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and some plant material.

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Perception Channels: tactile ; chemical

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Cyclicity

Comments: Active throughout the year. Primarily nocturnal but also active during the day.

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Life Expectancy

Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Observations: Little is known about the longevity of these animals, but one specimen lived 8.8 years in captivity (Richard Weigl 2005).
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Reproduction

Breeding in Mephitis macroura occurs from the middle of February to the end of March. Litters usually consist of about 3 individuals.

Key Reproductive Features: gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual

Average gestation period: 61 days.

Average number of offspring: 5.3.

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Breeds in late winter. Gestation is estimated to last 8 weeks. Litter size is estimated at 3-8 young (Leopold 1959).

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Mephitis macroura

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 4
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

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IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2008

Assessor/s
Cuarón, A.D., Reid, F. & Helgen, K.

Reviewer/s
Duckworth, J.W. (Small Carnivore Red List Authority) & Schipper, J. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)

Contributor/s

Justification
This species is listed as Least Concern as the species has a wide distribution range, is present in a variety of habitats and is common across its range (Hwang and Lariviere, 2001) and is tolerant to human activities. It is suspected that the species population is increasing in some regions.
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National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N4 - Apparently Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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Population

Population
Little is known of the population dynamics of hooded skunks (Rosatte, 1987). The species is common in Costa Rica and not uncommon in Arizona (Reid pers. comm.). The species is very abundant in Mexico (Hwang and Lariviere 2001). The species seems to be more common in human disturbed areas.

Population Trend
Increasing
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Threats

Major Threats
Hooded skunks are not threatened. In Mexico, they are very abundant and survive in human altered habitats such as cultivated fields, pastures, and suburban areas (Hwang and Larivière, 2001). However, its meat is desired in some areas (Davis, 1944) while other parts are used for some other uses in Guatemala and Mexico (Reid, 1997; Dalquest, 1953).
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Comments: Not threatened.

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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
The species does not have any specific protection status in Central America (De la Rosa and Nocke, 2000).
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Wikipedia

Hooded skunk

The hooded skunk (Mephitis macroura) is a species of mammal in the family Mephitidae. Mephit in Latin means "foul odor" and macr in Greek translates to "large" and oura translates to "tail".

Morphology[edit]

It can be distinguished from the similar striped skunk (M. mephitis) by its longer tail and longer, much softer coat of fur, and larger tympanic bullae.[2] A ruff of white fur around its neck gives the animal its common name. Three color phases are known and in all three, a thin white medial stripe is present between the eyes: black-backed with two lateral white stripes, white-backed with one dorsal white stripe, or entirely black with a few white hairs in the tail.[3][4]

Ecology[edit]

The hooded skunk ranges from the Southwestern United States to southern Mexico, but is most abundant in Mexico. These skunks are found to be 50% or less smaller in size in southern Mexico than in the Southwestern United States.[5] It is found in grasslands, deserts, and in the foothills of mountains, avoiding high elevations. It tends to live near a water source, such as a river. The females tend to be 15% smaller in size than the males[6] and their breeding season is between February and March.[4] The litter size ranges from three to eight.[7]

Diet[edit]

The diet of the hooded skunk consists mostly of vegetation, especially prickly pear (Opuntia spp.), but it will readily consume insects, small vertebrates, and bird eggs [4] as well. No cases of rabies are reported,[8][9] but they host a range of parasites, including nematodes, roundworms, and fleas.[4]

Behavior[edit]

Hooded skunks are solitary, but they might interact at a feeding ground without showing any signs of aggression.[10] They shelter in a burrow or a nest of thick plant cover during the day and are active at night. Like M. mephitis, for self-defense, they spray volatile components from their anal glands.[11]!

Characteristics[edit]

Hooded skunks are currently not endangered. They are very abundant in Mexico and can live in human suburban areas mostly on pastures and cultivated fields.[12] Their fur has low economic value.[7] However, their fat[11] and scent glands[10] can be used for medicinal purposes. In some parts of their range, their flesh is considered a delicacy.[13] Other common names for the hooded skunk include: mofeta rayada (Spanish), moufette à capuchon (French), pay (Maya), southern skunk, white-sided skunk, and zorillo.[14]

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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Based on patterns of mtDNA variation in Mustelidae, Dragoo and Honeycut (1997) recommended that skunks (Mephitis, Conepatus, Spilogale) and the Oriental stink badger (Mydaus) be separated as a distinct family (Mephitidae). Wozencraft (in Wilson and Reeder 2005) recognized the family Mephitidae.

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