Herpetologist Jimmy Stiles was checking a live trap in Alabama's Conecuh National Forest when something spotted, well, spotted him. If you ever find yourself in the personal space of a spotted skunk, you might want to prepare for a dance-off. 

Live traps help researchers like Stiles, who studies reptiles and amphibians at the Auburn University Museum of Natural History, monitor local snake populations, including those of the eastern indigo snake, America's longest snake species. From time to time, the team catches animals of a different sort and this isn't the first skunk to get curious with their kit. 

"Actually we catch more [skunks] in our traps then the folks trying to survey for them!" he wrote on Facebook.

The skunk's defensive position (which just happens to look like a sweet dance move) is a way of telling interlopers to back off. And ignoring the impressive handstand manoeuvre can earn you a dose of the animals' signature scent. 

Spotted skunks differ from striped skunks in that they’re considerably smaller  but that doesn't mean their cologne is less potent. 

Luckily for Stiles, this particular confrontation didn’t end in a bath of tomato juice (that age-old skunk rinse). The furry catch might have been caught off guard, but it made its way out of the enclosure no worse for wear.

"The skunk climbed right out on the stick in the video," he says. "They are very smart!"


Top header image: Alan Krakauer/Flickr