Conepatus leuconotus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Carnivora Mephitidae

Scientific Name: Conepatus leuconotus (Lichtenstein, 1832)
Common Name(s):
English American Hog-nosed Skunk, Eastern Hog-nosed Skunk, White-backed Hog-nosed Skunk
Spanish Zorillo
Conepatus mesoleucus (Lichtenstein, 1832)
Conepatus mesoleucus ssp. telmalestes Bailey, 1905
Mephitis leuconota Lichtenstein, 1832
Taxonomic Notes: Conepatus leuconotus and C. mesoleucus formerly were regarded as distinct species (e.g. Jones et al. 1992). Dragoo et al. (2003) examined morphological and molecular characters of Conepatus skunks and determined that (1) C. mesoleucus is not a species distinct from C. leuconotus, (2) Conepatus subspecies texensis, mearnsi, mesoleucus , nelsoni, venaticus, nicaraguae, sonoriensis, and filipensis should be lumped as C. leuconotus leuconotus , (3) subspecies figginsi and fremonti should be lumped as C. l. figginsi, and (4) C. mesoleucus telmalestes should be regarded as C. leuconotus telmalestes. They suggested that further genetic research might indicate that figginsi and telmalestes are not valid taxa but that the populations they represent (if not extinct) will require different management strategies from the wide-ranging C. l. leuconotus. Wozencraft (2005) included mesoleucus in C. leuconotus.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2015-03-01
Assessor(s): Helgen, K.
Reviewer(s): Duckworth, J.W.
This species is listed as Least Concern because it has a wide distribution range and occurs in a variety of habitats. The species apparently has declined drastically in recent decades in the north and is now very rare in Texas, thus with the availability of further information on population size and status, this species may require reassessment.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:The species is found in from northern Nicaragua north through central Guatemala and Honduras, Mexico, into the southern United States (occurring in southeastern Texas, southern Arizona and southern New Mexico). The species is notably absent from hot deserts and tropical moist evergreen forests - as well as the Baja Peninsula.
Countries occurrence:
El Salvador; Guatemala; Honduras; Mexico; Nicaragua; United States
Additional data:
Upper elevation limit (metres):3000
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:The species is solitary and secretive difficult to census, even through trapping. It appears to have declined drastically in Texas in the past few decades (Davis and Schmidly 1994, Dragoo et al. 2003, Meaney et al. 2006). The species has disappeared from Colorado, northern New Mexico and Oklahoma. Available evidence indicates extreme rarity. Few recent specimens have been obtained in Mexico. But the species could be more numerous than available evidence indicates.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Inhabits a wide variety of habitats within its range, including woodlands, grasslands, deserts, brushy areas, and rocky canyons in mountainous regions (Meaney et al. 2006). Elevation range is variable and can reach up to higher elevations in mountainous areas. In Arizona, Hog-nosed Skunk is known up to 9,000 ft. In pine-fir forests in the Graham Mountains (Hoffmeister 1986), and in Mexico they range up to 10,000 ft (Cahalane 1961).

The species is nocturnal and feeds primarily on insects, usually digging in the ground to get larvae, or using its nose to take out beetles; it is also able to find and eat fruits and small vertebrates (Dragoo and Honeycutt 1999). Dens are in rock crevices, hollow logs, underground burrows, caves, mine shafts, woodrat houses, or under buildings. Feeds mainly on insects, especially larval forms. Also eats other invertebrates, reptiles, small mammals, and some vegetation (fruits, etc.). Digs with long claws, roots in soil with snout, overturns rocks and logs.

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Animals are hunted for their fur in parts of its range.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Primary threats to the continued persistence of American Hog-nosed Skunks throughout their range include degradation, fragmentation, and loss of habitat, interspecific interactions with feral hogs (Sus scrofa) and Striped Skunks (Mephitis mephitis), roadkill, control of predators and insect pests (pesticide use), and grazing (Honeycutt and Dragoo 1995, Schmidly 2002). The range of this species is shrinking, especially in the north. Natural brushland habitat has been lost to agricultural development. Pesticide use could be detrimental, either directly or indirectly through impacts on food resources.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: It is considered necessary to include species of Conepatus in CITES Appendix II in order to obtain data on the trade in the different species, to estimate the exploitation levels, and to enforce better control of the exports, and to avoid that one of the species is exported under the name of any of the other species (IUCN/SSC Mustelid, Viverrid and Procyonid Specialist Group 1992).

Citation: Helgen, K. 2016. Conepatus leuconotus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T41632A45210809. . Downloaded on 16 August 2018.
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