E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Wildlife of British Columbia

Spilogale gracilis (Merriam, 1890)
Western Spotted Skunk
Family: Mephitidae
Photo of species

© Public Domain  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #14253)

E-Fauna BC Static Map
Distribution of Spilogale gracilis in British Columbia
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Species Information


The Western Spotted Skunk is one of two species of Skunk found in British Columbia. The two species are significantly different in appearance. The Spotted Skunk is half the size and more slender than the more familiar Striped Skunk, and it is more weasel-like in appearance (Wikipedia 2011). It is black with six horizontal stripes along its back (only two on the Striped Skunk), has vertical stripes or spots on the rear half of its body, and has a noticeable bushy white tip on its tail (Hatler et al. 2008).

Western Spotted Skunks are generally found in lowland areas but are also reported from higher elevations (Carey and Kershner 1996).


Global Distribution: "The Western Spotted Skunk is found west of the Continental Divide from southern British Columbia to central Mexico, and in parts of Montana, North Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado and western Texas." (Carey and Kershner 1996).

Distribution in British Columbia: In British Columbia, this species occurs only in the southwest mainland. Confirmed records include the Fraser Valley (east to Cultus Lake), Sunshine Coast, Vancouver, North Vancouver, Burnaby and Pitt Meadows (near Maple Ridge) (Hatler et al. 2008). In 1902, it was reported as abundant around Chilliwack, occuring up to elevations of 1300 m (Hatler et al. 2008).

Based on news reports, in 2013 a mature male Spotted Skunk was rescued from a trap in West Vancouver and, also in 2013, a Spotted Skunk was brought into the Wildlife Rescue Association in Burnaby.


The Eastern and Western Spotted Skunk were once considered a single species, but are now considered distinct species: Spirogale putorius and Spirogale gracilis Hatler 2008. As of 2021, seven species of western spotted skunks are now recognized (McDonough et al. 2021).


Hatler et al. (2008) indicate that human settlement and forest removal have led to declines in Spotted Skunks in the region: "Jack Lay, an animal control officer in the Lower Mainland, indicated that when he first started work in [New Westminster] in the early 40's, Spotted Skunks were common. As people removed local forests for agricultural, residential and industrial development, the larger Striped Skunks, which do well in urban and agricultural settings, gradually replaced the Spotted Skunks."

Status Information

Origin StatusProvincial StatusBC List
(Red Blue List)
NativeSUUnknownNot Listed
BC Ministry of Environment: BC Species and Ecosystems Explorer--the authoritative source for conservation information in British Columbia.

Additional Photo Sources

Species References

Carey, Andrew B. and Janet E. Kershner 1996 Spilogale gracilis in upland forests of western Washington and Oregon. Northwestern Naturalist 77: 29-34.

Hatler, David F., David W. Nagorsen and Alison M. Beal. 2008. Carnivores of British Columbia. Royal BC Museum Handbook, Victoria.

Molly M. McDonough, Adam W Ferguson, Robert C. Dowler, Matthew E. Gompper, and Jesús E. Maldonadoe. 2021. Phylogenomic systematics of the spotted skunks (Carnivora, Mephitidae, Spilogale): Additional species diversity and Pleistocene climate change as a major driver of diversification. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. July 2021.

Montana Natural Heritage Program. Western Spotted Skunk — Spilogale gracilis. Montana Field Guide. Montana Natural Heritage Program and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Available online.

Wikipedia. 2011. Western Spotted Skunk page. Available online.

General References

Recommended citation: Author, Date. Page title. In Klinkenberg, Brian. (Editor) 2021. E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Fauna of British Columbia [efauna.bc.ca]. Lab for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. [Accessed: 2024-07-21 3:23:32 AM]
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© E-Fauna BC 2021: An initiative of the Spatial Data Lab, Department of Geography, UBC