Active Component in Skunk Urine

Dan Johnson adj8n at avery.med.virginia.edu
Fri Aug 23 07:06:48 EST 1996


In article <Pine.SOL.3.91.960822132055.4187A-100000 at cougar>,
s9033036 at COUGAR.VUT.EDU.AU (Dianne Emslie) wrote:

> I heard it was similar to mercaptoethanol which would explain its smelly 
> reputation. Haven't any personal experience of it myself though - we 
> don't have skunks in Australia. 
> 
> On Sat, 17 Aug 1996, Stefan Einar Stefansson wrote:
> 
> > Hi 
> > 
> > I was recently asked if I knew what the active components in skunk urine 
> > was.
> > I thought it was some sulfure compound, but not sure.
> > 
> > Does anyone have a clue what it is?
> > 
> > Stefan
> > 
> > Stefan/Dianne E:

	     You were mighty close with mercaptoethanol!  The actual compound is
methylmercaptan, and yes, it is sulfur based.  Nasty stuff indeed in pure
form, if you are ever anywhere near it.  As bad as skunks smell, they do
not produce a pure form.  By the way, it technically is not their urine
that stinks.  They have specialized oil glands around their anus, that are
contractile.  That is where they spray their "odor-bombs" from.

Dan Johnson



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