Skunks are small mammals known for their ability to repel predators with a foul-smelling spray -- as well as signature black and white markings. However, as skunks are not sexually dimorphic, meaning they do not have physical difference between the two sexes of the species, these markings cannot be used to determine a particular skunk's gender. Differences between male and female skunks are mostly behavioral.
Telling Male and Female Skunks Apart
While male skunks tend to be larger than female skunks, the lack of true sexual dimorphism means telling them apart based on appearance is somewhat difficult. Determining the sex of a skunk often relies on observing the skunk's behavior. Males are polygamous and spend much of their time looking for a mating partner. Females, on the other hand, spend much of their time in a burrow or den -- often defending their home from a male interloper. In fact, juvenile females will often remain in the den of their mothers while juvenile males are evicted just months after being born. If you are able to get close enough, an inspection of the skunk's genitalia is the best way to determine its sex.
About the Author
Brett Smith is a science journalist based in Buffalo, N.Y. A graduate of the State University of New York - Buffalo, he has more than seven years of experience working in a professional laboratory setting.