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Spotted skunks are distinctive from striped skunks in three ways. First, their fur pattern is different, having 'blotches' along the whole of their body. Second, they are notably smaller than striped skunks. Third, when spraying, striped skunks will stamp in a circle then look over their hips, while spotted skunks will perform a 'handstand' and look over their tails. This 'handstand' has given the skunks a reputation for being graceful.
In real life, spotted skunks are divided into four main species: the Eastern spotted skunk (Spilogale putorius), the Western spotted skunk (Spilogale gracilis), the Southern spotted skunk (Spilogale angustifrons) and the Pygmy spotted skunk (Spilogale pygmaea) with one subspecies, the Channel Islands spotted skunk, is alternatively declared a subspecies of the western spotted skunk, and its own species. These species are incompatible due to subtle differences in skeletal structure; these differences arose relatively quickly due to temporal isolation (the Eastern spotted skunk mates in the spring, the Western, in the fall). These differences are rarely mentioned in furry circles.
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