Just how a skunk came to be portrayed as a cartoon caricature of love and affection, we'll never know. As you can see from this battle with a big cat, these monochrome critters are actually decent fighters!
The carcass quarrel was filmed several years ago by staff at Bighorn National Recreation Area (BNRA), which straddles the border between Wyoming and Montana. After discovering a roadkill deer on the outskirts of the refuge, park rangers placed a camera trap at the scene to see who would come to the table. While the mountain lion was an expected guest, its stinky assailant stole the show.
"The site was rather pungent the next day," the team wrote on Facebook. "The skunk definitely did spray!"
We tend not to think of skunks as meat-eaters, but these animals like diversity in their diets. Small critters like insects, rodents and amphibians are the most common skunk prey, but the opportunistic eaters will also scavenge larger kills when they can – and with anal-gland chemical weaponry at their disposal, it's not too difficult to get a share!
If you watch the video closely, you'll notice a pair of eyes glowing from the nearby brush. Many commenters online suggested this was a second lurking skunk, but BNRA staff explain that the mountain lion actually circled back around for a second attempt at free dinner. In the end, skunk squirt proved too much of a deterrent for the cat. Dog relatives didn't fare any better:
Ever wondered what skunk spray looks like? Scroll down past the adorable stink kittens if you think you can stomach it. Be warned, you cannot unsee those nozzles!
Top header image: Sheila Ryan/Flickr