What Is The Chemical Composition Of A Skunk's Spray?



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The chief odorous components of the spray have been identified as crotyl mercaptan, isopentyl mercaptan, and methyl crotyl disulfide, in the ratio of 4:4:3. The foul-smelling spray is an oily, pale-yellow liquid which can cause severe eye inflammation. This defensive weapon is discharged from two tiny nipples located just inside the skunk's anus. It emerges either as a fine spray or a short stream of rain-sized drops. Although the liquid travels only 6.5 to 10 feet (2 to 3 meters), its smell can be detected 1.5 miles (2.5 kilometers) downwind.

Sources: Encyclopedia Americana, vol. 25, p. 12; Nowak, Ronald M. Walker's Mammals of the 5th ed., vol. 2, p. 1131.

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