Average adult striped skinks weigh 6 to 8 pounds, although body weight might be significantly heavier in late fall as the skunks attain layers of fat to sustain themselves through winter. Spotted skunks are much smaller, usually weighing 2 or 3 pounds. Males of both types are slightly heavier than females.
All striped skunks have a white stripe on the head between the nose and the forehead. A white crest, or cap, is typical on the top of the head, and a continuing white stripe usually divides over the shoulder area into two stripes that continue along the sides of the animal into the tail. The amount of white coloration varies with the individual skunk, with some having broad stripes, narrow stripes, short stripes or even none at all.
The scent glands in skunks are well developed. Musk, or essence, can be sprayed repeatedly as a defense. The yellowish compound is powerful in all skunks, and contains sulfuric acid which can cause temporary blindness in both other animals and man.
Striped and spotted skunks have 5 toes on each foot. The front feet have relatively long claws to assist them in digging for grubs and other foods. Both skunks have 34 teeth, including 4 pointed and sharp canines teeth.
Skunk fur is rather long, and longer on tails than on bodies. Underfur is white under the white guard hairs, and grayish under the black colored guard hairs.