Skunks (in the United States, occasionally called polecats) are mammals best known for their ability to secrete a liquid with a strong, foul odor. General appearance varies from species to species, from black-and-white to brown or cream colored. Skunks, together with their closest living relatives, the stink badgers, belong to the 'skunk family', the 'Mephitidae' and to the order Carnivora. There are twelve species of Mephitids, which are divided into four genera: Mephitis (the hooded and striped skunks, two species); Spilogale (spotted skunks, four species); Mydaus (stink badgers, two species); and Conepatus (hog-nosed skunks, four species). The two stink badgers in the Mydaus genus inhabit Indonesia and the Philippines; while all other members of the family inhabit the Americas, ranging from Canada to central South America. All other known mephitids are extinct and known only through fossils, many in Eurasia.
Contributions by Ec5618, Kotra, and Renmiri.