A Natural History of Skunks

Personal Force Fields

Skunks have a fascinating defense mechanism. I am not referring to their ability to project a highly potent stink cloud, useful though that may be. As can be seen in the photograph below, skunks can instantiate a personal force field around their bodies. The force field manifests in the bluish outline around the white fur areas and the body itself.

Skunk with defensive force field on

Since skunks have two powerful defense mechanisms, it makes sense that each is capable of handling a different threat and that they don't overlap in function. The stink cloud is undoubtedly used against normal predators -- foxes, wolves, wildcats, automobiles, dogs, chupacabras, and ferrets. These predators are close-range threats that may be driven off by application of the directed stink cloud.

The force field, however, must be used for an alternative sort of threat. It is undoubtedly useless against close-range threats, but highly effective against threats from a longer distance. While I have never seen the force fields used as a defense in this manner, I think it is clear that a skunk's personal force field is intended to defend against laser-eyed predators.

Text copyright 2006 by Wayne Morrison, all rights reserved.
The photograph is copyright 2006 by Jo Morrison (harp@triharpskel.com) and is used here by permission. All rights are reserved by her.