What do you think of when you hear the word "skunk"? Chances are, a nasty odor like burned tires and rotten eggs pops into your mind. That dreaded scent comes from a liquid made inside the skunk's body, and it can be sprayed whenever the skunk feels trapped by a larger animal.

Skunks spray only when they absolutely have to. These clever and easygoing animals live throughout Minnesota, often close to people—on farms, in towns, and even in big cities. Most of the time, they go about their peaceful lives unnoticed as we sleep.

Black and White. All skunks have black fur with white stripes or spots. Most skunks are no bigger than a house cat, with a tail that's as long and fluffy as a feather duster. Ten species, or kinds, of skunks can be found in North and South America. Minnesota has two skunk species: striped and spotted. You're much more likely to see a striped skunk because a spotted skunk hasn't been seen in the state since 2011.

The striped skunk is larger than any other North American species. Its black fur is marked with white that starts on the head and splits into a V along the spine. A thin slash of white fur runs between the skunk's black eyes, from forehead to nose. Every striped skunk has its own unique fur pattern.

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