Raccoons VS Skunks – How Do They Compare?

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Published on October 3, 2022
Last Updated on October 12, 2023

Raccoons and skunks are both small to medium-sized mammals that love to hunt. While they share a few similarities, it can be confusing to tell the differences between the two.

Despite their shared traits, raccoons and skunks have a lot of distinctive features that make them stand out from one another. 

Join Floofmania in taking a look at how skunks and raccoons compare, from them possibly being related to their appearances!

Are Skunks and Raccoons Related?

While they share many similar traits, skunks and raccoons are not related at all.

The raccoon belongs to the Procyonidae family while skunks are from a single family called Mephitidae. This is a sub-family of mustelids, so skunks are related to otters, stoats, and badgers.

Raccoons are pretty much their own thing, but they’re more closely related to bears and cats (which you can learn more about here) than skunks, which, on the other hand, are closer to weasels!

Can Skunks And Raccoons Mate Together?

Skunks and raccoons cannot successfully mate together because they have so many differences between them.

Firstly, skunks and raccoons do not belong to the same family of animals, so their genetics do not match up.

And even if they were related, hybridizing animals will only work when they have very similar or the same amount of chromosomes.

Since raccoons have 38 chromosomes and skunks have 46 chromosomes, they wouldn’t be able to properly breed, even if they were related.

Even if the two animals could physically mate, however, it would be doubtful that they had any interest in one another! Raccoons and skunks are two very different animals with different instincts and breeding behavior. They’d never even think about mating!

Add to that that raccoons will probably be put off by the skunk’s foul smell!

Finally, they are unlikely to mate since they have different mating seasons. Skunks usually mate early in the year while raccoon mating season is in mid to late summer.

Do Skunks And Raccoons Get Along?

Skunks and raccoons do not normally get along, but it is not because they are enemies.

Skunks and raccoons are solitary animals, so they would be unlikely to hang around each other in the first place.

They are both nocturnal creatures with similar habitats, so their paths may cross, but they will likely avoid each other. 

Do Skunks And Raccoons Fight?

Raccoons and skunks do sometimes fight one another, but they don’t normally pick a fight unless provoked.

If the raccoon or skunk gets threatened by the other or comes into conflict over food, they may become aggressive. 

However, if both animals are well-fed and have a lot of distance between them, they will probably walk away from each other. It’s just not worth the risk of getting hurt when there are plenty of resources for everyone!

Are Skunks And Raccoons Aggressive?

Skunks are non-aggressive animals, especially since their tactic of spraying a foul-smelling secretion on would-be attackers allows them to scare off their predators to avoid fights.

On the other hand, a raccoon’s aggression can vary based on the threat and its environment.

Raccoons see bigger beings, such as humans or bears, as predators, and will do their best to avoid them altogether.

If the raccoon feels like they have no choice but to fight, however, they will choose to attack even if the other being is bigger.

Raccoons often put on a show by trying to intimidate their opponent, which involves growling, charging, baring their teeth, and swaying back and forth.

As you can see in this video, a mother raccoon tries to protect her young by growling and baring her teeth.

When it comes to skunks, they stomp using their front feet and growl. They also raise their tails as a warning that they are willing to spray their enemies.

How Do Skunks And Raccoons Compare?

Despite their similarities as solitary mammals, skunks and raccoons differ quite a bit, such as their size, speed, and behavior.

Which Are Bigger: Skunks Or Raccoons?

Fully-grown raccoons are often bigger than adult skunks in both length and weight.

Usually, the adult raccoon can be 16-28 inches long (without the tail) and weigh up to 57 pounds.

As for a fully grown skunk, they can be 15-37 inches long and weigh 18 pounds.

Which Run Faster: Raccoons Or Skunks?

While it will depend on their exact size, raccoons are normally faster than skunks.

A raccoon can run up to 15 miles per hour while a skunk can only run 10 miles per hour.

While raccoons can run fast, they are considered “sprinters” since they cannot maintain that speed for a long period.

As for skunks, they tend to seek out a hiding spot while they run.

Do Skunks And Raccoons Bite?

Both skunks and raccoons have the ability to bite you, and both have sharp canine teeth that can hurt their victims.

However, a skunk would be more reluctant to bite while raccoons will be more ready to do so.

Which Can Climb: A Skunk Or A Raccoon?

Raccoons and skunks are both skilled climbers. Both animals have long claws that help them to anchor onto trees.

Who Would Win In A Fight Between A Skunks And A Raccoon?

While they are evenly matched in terms of skills and size, a raccoon is more likely to win a fight against a skunk.

Let’s take a look at this table for a quick recap of their capabilities:

Do They Bite?YesYes
Do They Climb?YesYes
Can They Swim?Very wellThey can, but do not enjoy it
Speed10 mph15 mph
Size15-37 inches long16-28 inches long
Weight18 pounds57 pounds
Number Of Teeth3440
EyesightWeak VisionGood Vision

Raccoons have a slight upper hand against skunks, but only by a small amount.

For instance, raccoons have great night vision whereas skunks have a poor overall vision.

Of course, we cannot count out the skunk’s ability to spray a foul-smelling secretion at its targets.

A skunk’s spray can deter and distract the raccoon during their fight, but it may not be enough to keep the raccoon’s overall skills from winning.

Normally, a skunk’s defensive move is to spray its target and run away, but if the raccoon can overcome the foul stench, the raccoon can catch the skunk since raccoons can run faster than skunks.

Do Skunks Or Raccoons Live The Longest?

When it comes to their lifespans, skunks are ahead since they live up to 7 years while raccoons only live for 2-3 years.

How Is Skunk And Raccoon Behavior Different?

The main difference between skunk and raccoon behavior is that the raccoon is more likely to attack other living beings.

Skunks do not actively seek confrontation, but if faced with a potential predator, skunks will spray when they feel provoked.

As for raccoons, they are more willing to fight potential predators, especially if escape is not an option.

While both animals are nocturnal, raccoons and skunks can occasionally be found during the daytime.

What makes skunks and raccoons distinctly different are their social behaviors.

Skunks are very solitary creatures, and will only come in contact with another skunk during mating season.

Even if raccoons were once believed to be solitary animals, they are actually semi-social animals that can share territory with other raccoons.

As for their eating habits, skunks are omnivores but have a focus on insects. You can easily find them using their long claws at night to dig for insects.

Raccoons are also omnivores, but they are much more opportunistic eaters than skunks. Typically, raccoons will use their keen sense of smell to look for food and pick up whatever they can find along the way.

Do Skunks And Raccoons Have Similar Diets?

Skunks and raccoons are both omnivores and foragers, so they do have quite similar diets.

Skunks and raccoons will both eat a variety of insects, bird eggs, worms, fish, and nuts.

Both animals are also opportunistic eaters, so they will eat anything that they can, including garbage from trash cans, and your vegetable garden!

Do Skunks And Raccoons Look Alike?

Skunks do not look alike. The only common feature they both share is black and white fur!

How Can You Tell A Skunk And A Raccoon Apart?

Skunk sitting in the grass, looking towards to camara.

Skunks have primarily black fur with two white stripes that flow from their heads to their tails.

A raccoon peeking up from behind a tree trunk.

As for raccoons, they have more distinct markings throughout their fur that feature varied hues of black and white fur.

Skunk heads are usually small and round with tiny, rounded ears whereas raccoons have larger, triangle-shaped heads with pointy ears.

While both have large and bushy tails, skunks have fluffier tails that feature a mixture of white and black fur.

The fur on raccoon tails is not as long as the skunk’s, and a raccoon tail features a noticeable striped pattern.

However, you could easily confuse the two animals if you are far away. Their distinct markings make them more unique once you see them up close.

Author: Allison Marie Dinglasan

Hello! I am Allison, an avid writer for 6 years with a deep interest in animals since I was a child. I grew up on Animal Planet and animal books and often did rescue work for stray and sickly cats, dogs, and birds in my area, which led to over 60 rescues. My future goal is to be a veterinarian to have a more hands-on approach to helping and learning about animals!


  • Allison Marie Dinglasan

    Hello! I am Allison, an avid writer for 6 years with a deep interest in animals since I was a child. I grew up on Animal Planet and animal books and often did rescue work for stray and sickly cats, dogs, and birds in my area, which led to over 60 rescues. My future goal is to be a veterinarian to have a more hands-on approach to helping and learning about animals!

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