Trail cameras allow us to take a glimpse into animals' lives without interfering or scaring them away. Though their footage usually goes viral for capturing rare sightings of majestic creatures or dangerous encounters, these gadgets also show us the sillier side of nature. Just recently, the National Park Services (NPS) shared a clip taken by a trail camera of a skunk doing a handstand in Saguaro National Park, Arizona.
“One of our favorite wildlife captures, this spotted skunk dances like no one's watching…even when we are,” NPS says. “Why the fancy footwork and big skunk energy (smell)? Because it can.” Who knew skunks could kill it on the dancefloor? Not to mention the unique visual of its fuzzy tail all spread out like a duster.
While this funky move is certainly amusing to watch, it serves a higher purpose. The animal is actually walking on its front paws to scare off predators. “The spotted skunk is usually polite enough to give a warning before breaking into dance,” writes NPS. “They stamp their front feet, raise their tail, and hiss. (Like you before every video call.) If they’re particularly annoyed (this call could be an email), that's when they stand upright on their forelimbs and perform the unusual hand-stand dance. Same. Well, one time.”
So, if you ever come across a skunk doing his dance, back off. As cool as it looks, this is the final warning before the stink bomb they are known for is dropped. “If the dancing handstand fails to intimidate (wow, nothing?), they will resort to the real room clearers: a pair of scent glands out back that spray a foul-smelling musk,” NPS explains.
Should you ever find yourself in a situation like that, NPS recommends walking away as slowly and quietly as you can to prevent our furry neighbor from feeling any more threatened than it already does. “Avoid doing anything else that could be considered threatening. Yelling more passion, more energy, and more footwork will most likely lead to more spraying,” they warn.
Since the trail footage is only s few seconds long, we don't get to see if the animal stalking the skunk got the message. Could it simply have been marveling at that dance show? Hopefully not; because if they did, the price of admission would have been way too high…starting with its nose.