Colorado has a diverse and abundant wildlife population with over 960 species living in the state. Certain animals, such as elk, deer, and squirrels are commonly seen by Coloradans, while other species are more elusive and far less often observed.

For example, skunk sightings are fairly seldom in the Centennial State, but that doesn't mean they don't exist. In fact, four different species of skunks can be found here. They are striped skunks, eastern and western spotted skunks, and white-backed hog-nosed skunks.

All four species of skunks are nocturnal omnivores. Their diets include insects, vegetation, small rodents, eggs, and garbage. Skunks generally den in burrows of other animals, rock crevices, brush piles, or spaces under buildings. Sometimes they will dig their own burrows though.

According to CPW, striped skunks are the largest and most widespread of the four species that live in Colorado. On average, striped skunks are 24 to 32 inches long, and weigh between 4 to 10 pounds - very similar in size to house cats. Their bodies are black except for a white stripe on the forehead and a wide white area at the nape of the neck that divides into a “V” along the back. Striped skunks can live in elevations up to 10,000 feet. They

Looking for food
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Eastern spotted skunks primarily live in the plains along Colorado's eastern border however, they also have the unique ability to climb trees as well. These agile and slender skunks range in length from 1.3 to 1.9 feet and weigh 15.8 ounces to 1.9 pounds. Eastern spotted skunks are identified by their long dense black fur with 4 to 6 broken white stripes on their backs and a single white spot on the foreheads. The eastern spotted skunk also has a black-tipped tail which generally is shorter than the tails of other skunks.

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Western spotted skunks are uncommon to see in Colorado. They mostly live in the foothills and canyons below 8,000 feet, in the state's western region. They can be distinguished from the eastern spotted skunk by their white-tipped tail and having broader broken white stripes on their back. Like eastern spotted skunks, this species also has a white spot between their eyes. Their bodies are typically 1.1 to 1.6 feet long and weigh 14 ounces to 1.5 pounds. When western spotted skunks feel threatened, they display an unusual behavior: stamping their fore-feet before raising their hind parts in the air.

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Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=697946/Canva
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The hog-nosed skunk is the rarest of the four species in Colorado. No specimens have been reported in the state in the last 50 years, so it's possible the species may not live in Colorado anymore. Hog-nosed skunks are nearly as large as striped skunks, but their bodies and tails are slightly longer. As the name suggests, this skunk has a distinct,  turned-up nose that resembles a hog. The back of its head and the entire back and tail are white, whereas the face, sides, and underside are black.

Patagonian hog-nosed skunk
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Skunks often get a bad rap due to their smelly tendencies, but minus the odor, they are actually pretty cute little creatures. If you do get sprayed by a skunk's musk, use alkaline hydrogen peroxide or a diluted solution of vinegar to remove the odor from pets and clothing.

Uncommon Animals of Colorado

It's pretty rare to see these types of wildlife in Colorado.

Gallery Credit: Kelsey Nistel

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