Animals: on one hand you have the cute and the cuddly; on the other hand, you have the not-so-cute, especially when they release the most noxious of smells. You can't blame them though; many of these little stinkers use their smelly weapons in self-defense. Just make sure you don't bother them. Live and let live is the wisest approach when it comes to some of these critters.
Also known as zorrillas, these nocturnal fellows wear a black-and-white suit that causes them to often be confused for skunks. However, they're definitively not skunks; these little critters are actually members of the weasel family. Like the skunk though they secrete a pungent fluid through their anal glands when they feel the need to defend themselves from dangerous predators. The sprayed fluid smells so bad that polecats have earned the pole position as the smelliest animals on earth.
Of course, Pepe La Peau deserves a place of honor when it comes to stinky secretions. You definitively don't want to mess with these fellows. The acrid foamy spray that comes out of a special gland found just inside the anal area is so noxious it will stop predators in their tracks. Fortunately, these phlegmatic critters give advanced warning of their intent and won't waste their fluids unless they have a very good reason for it.
Contrary to what you may think, these fellows with plenty of little kickers aren't part of the insect family. Despite being land dwellers, they're actually related to lobsters, crayfish and shrimp. Upon feeling threatened, millipedes may roll up into what looks like a slimy cinnamon bun or attack using defensive, smelly sprays rich in hydrochloric acid. While millipedes don't typically inspire cuddling, it's definitively not a good idea to handle them with your bare hands; their secretions can cause chemical burns, skin discoloration and an unpleasant lingering odor.
As the name implies, these fellows will launch aerial "bombs" with state-of-the-art sound effects and noxious smells that will have you running for cover. As an added bonus, their gaseous sprays reach an astounding temperature of 212 degrees. You'll definitively know when the spray is being emitted as a loud pop is produced as the gas hits the air followed by the noxious mixture exiting the body. Don't assume you're necessarily safe if the beetle missed you the first time; these machine-bomb beetles can actually deliver their toxic bombs numerous times in a row.
You wouldn't expect a bird to be on the list of animals spewing foul-smelling fluids, but an African bird known as the green woodhoopoe makes an exception to the rule. These tropical feathered fellows will poke their tails out of the nest hole and spray a fluid that smells much worse than those rotten eggs you completely forgot in the fridge. The main objective in this case is to keep many unwanted and dangerous predators away from the nest -- and it looks like it works like a charm.
Felix the cat can be cute and cuddly until he decides to mark your furniture with what veterinarian and behaviorist Sophia Yin calls "kitty graffiti." Unlike other animals who spray in self defense, Puddy Tat shoots the squirt when he feels stressed, marks territory or announces his sexual availability. If you ever wondered what causes that terrible stench when intact male cats urinate, you'll need to blame the hormone testosterone which makes their urine 10 times stinkier, explains veterinarian Justin Lee.
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Adrienne Farricelli has been writing for magazines, books and online publications since 2005. She specializes in canine topics, previously working for the American Animal Hospital Association and receiving certification from the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. Her articles have appeared in "USA Today," "The APDT Chronicle of the Dog" and "Every Dog Magazine." She also contributed a chapter in the book " Puppy Socialization - An Insider's Guide to Dog Behavioral Fitness" by Caryl Wolff.