Spilogale gracilis 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Carnivora Mephitidae

Scientific Name: Spilogale gracilis Merriam, 1890
Common Name(s):
English Western Spotted Skunk
Taxonomic Notes: Based on patterns of mtDNA variation in Mustelidae (sensu lato), Dragoo and Honeycut (1997) recommended that the skunks Mephitis, Conepatus, Spilogale and the oriental stink badgers Mydaus be separated from Mustelidae as a distinct family, Mephitidae.

This species has been included in S. putorius by some authors (Wozencraft 1993). Mead (1968) argued that S. gracilis and possibly S. leucoparia, both of which were included in S. putorius by Van Gelder (1959) and Hall (1981), are reproductively isolated from eastern populations and therefore should be considered distinct species. Jones et al. (1992), Baker et al. (2003), and Wozencraft (2005) recognised S. gracilis and S. putorius as separate species.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2015-03-01
Assessor(s): Cuarón, A.D., Helgen, K. & Reid, F.
Reviewer(s): Duckworth, J.W.
This species is listed as Least Concern as it is widely distributed in a variety of habitats including human-altered ones. The species may be declining in parts of the United States but not at a rate fast enough to be categorized as even Near Threatened.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:The geographic range of the Western Spotted Skunk extends from central Mexico through the western United States to British Columbia (Rosatte 1987).
Countries occurrence:
Mexico; United States
Additional data:
Upper elevation limit (metres):2500
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Populations of Western Spotted Skunk have been known to fluctuate in numbers and the animal is generally not common on the United States plains (Polder 1968, Choate et al. 1974). Few studies have been published on its home range, population density and mortality (Howard and Marsh 1982). Crabb (1948) found that the Western Spotted Skunk in Iowa had a home range averaging 64.8 ha at densities of 2.2 individuals/km2.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Western Spotted Skunk has been recorded in a wide spectrum of habitats varying from open lowlands to mountainous areas (Baker and Baker 1975), streams to rocky places, beaches to human buildings and other disturbed areas, chaparral among others (Rosatte 1987, Verts et al. 2001). The species has been found at elevations of 2,500 m asl in California (Orr 1943). Doty and Dowler (2006) reported that M. mephitis and S. gracilis coexist in habitats of west-central Texas that provide sufficient cover for S. gracilis. It is an omnivorous species, feeding primarily on insects and small mammals (Ewer 1973, Kurten and Anderson 1980), and carrion, berries, fruits and other (Bailey 1936, Clark and Stromberg 1987, Maser et al. 1981).

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: For information on use and trade, see under Threats.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Humans have been the main cause of mortality for Western Spotted Skunk, especially as a result of automobile roadkills. It is also trapped, shot and poisoned during predator control tactics (Rosatte 1987). Its pelts represent an insignificant fraction of the modern fur trade. Pesticides present a significant threat over portions of the range.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Spilogale gracilis amphialus is considered to be a subspecies of special concern by the state of California (Crooks 1994).

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.4. Forest - Temperate
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes
3. Shrubland -> 3.4. Shrubland - Temperate
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes
4. Grassland -> 4.4. Grassland - Temperate
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.1. Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Rivers/Streams/Creeks (includes waterfalls)
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes
0. Root -> 6. Rocky areas (eg. inland cliffs, mountain peaks)
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.1. Artificial/Terrestrial - Arable Land
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.2. Artificial/Terrestrial - Pastureland
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.3. Artificial/Terrestrial - Plantations
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.5. Artificial/Terrestrial - Urban Areas
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
4. Transportation & service corridors -> 4.1. Roads & railroads
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

5. Biological resource use -> 5.1. Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals -> 5.1.1. Intentional use (species is the target)
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

5. Biological resource use -> 5.1. Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals -> 5.1.2. Unintentional effects (species is not the target)
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

Bibliography [top]

Bailey, V. 1936. The mammals and life zones of Oregon. North American Fauna 55: 1-416.

Baker, R.H. and Baker, M.W. 1975. Montane habitat used by the spotted skunk (Spilogale putorius) in Mexico. Journal of Mammalogy 56: 671–673.

Baker, R.J., Bradley, L.C., Bradley, R.D., Dragoo, J.W., Engstrom, M.D., Hoffman, R.S., Jones, C.A., Reid, F., Rice, D.W. and Jones, C. 2003. Revised checklist of North American mammals north of Mexico, 2003. Occasional Papers, Museum of Texas Tech University 229: 23 pp.

Choate, J.R., Fleharty, E.D. and Little, R.J. 1974. Status of the spotted skunk, Spilogale putorius, in Kansas. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 76: 226–233.

Clark, T.W. and Stromberg, M.R. 1987. Mammals in Wyoming. University of Kansas, Natural History Museum.

Crabb, W.D. 1948. The ecology and management of the prairie spotted skunk in Iowa. Ecological Monographs 18: 201–232.

Crooks, K.R. 1994. Demography and status of the island fox and the island spotted skunk on Santa Cruz Island, California. Southwestern Naturalist 39: 257–262.

Doty, J.B. and Dowler, R.C. 2006. Denning ecology in sympatric populations of skunks (Spilogale gracilis and Mephitis mephitis) in west-central Texas. Journal of Mammalogy 87: 131-138.

Dragoo, J.W. and Honeycutt, L. 1997. Systematics of mustelid-like carnivores. Journal of Mammalogy 78: 426-443.

Ewer, R. 1973. The carnivores. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York.

Hall, E.R. 1981. The Mammals of North America. John Wiley and Sons, New York, USA.

Howard, W.H. and Marsh, R.E. 1982. Spotted and Hog-nosed Skunks. In: J.A. Chapman and G.A. Feldhammer (eds), Wild Mammals of North America, pp. 664-673. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.

IUCN. 2016. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016-1. Available at: (Accessed: 30 June 2016).

Jones Jr., J.K., Hoffman, R.S., Rice, D.W., Jones, C., Baker, R.J. and Engstrom, M.D. 1992. Revised checklist of North American mammals north of Mexico, 1991. Occasional Papers, Museum of Texas Tech University 146: 1-23.

Kurten, B. and Anderson, E. 1980. Pleistocene mammals of North America. Columbia University Press, New York, USA.

Maser, C., Mate, B.R., Franklin, J.F. and Dryness, C.T. (eds). 1981. Natural history of Oregon coast mammals. pp. 496 pp.. Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station.

Mead, R.A. 1968. Reproduction in western forms of the spotted skunk (genus Spilogale). Journal of Mammalogy 49: 373-390.

Orr, R.T. 1943. Altitudinal record for the spotted skunk in California. Journal of Mammalogy 24: 270.

Polder, E. 1968. Spotted skunk and weasel populations den and cover usage in northeast Iowa. Proceedings of the Iowa Academy of Science 75: 142-146.

Rosatte, R.C. 1987. Striped, Spotted, Hooded, and Hog-nosed Skunk. In: M. Novak, J.A. Baker, M.E. Obbard and B. Malloch (eds), Wild furbearer management and conservation in North America, pp. 1150 pp.. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and the Ontario Trappers Association, Ontario, Canada, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Van Gelder, R.G. 1959. A taxonomic revision of the spotted skunks (genus Spilogale). Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 117: 229-392.

Verts, B.J., Carraway, L.N. and Kinlaw, A. 2001. Spilogale gracilis. Mammalian Species 674: 1-10.

Wozencraft, W.C. 1993. Order Carnivora. In: D.E. Wilson and D.M. Reeder (eds), Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference. Second Edition, pp. 279-344. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC, USA.

Wozencraft, W.C. 2005. Order Carnivora. In: D.E. Wilson and D.M. Reeder (eds), Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference. Third Edition, pp. 532-628. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore.

Citation: Cuarón, A.D., Helgen, K. & Reid, F. 2016. Spilogale gracilis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T136797A45221721. . Downloaded on 23 July 2018.
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