Eli5: how do skunks replenish sulfur?


I assume skunks need to eat something with sulfur in it for them to produce more of their liquid after spraying. What would provide that element to them? Is it something they would need to seek out specifically after spraying or is it present in lots of foods?

In: 17

Skunks have a special gland in their body that contains a smelly liquid. Believe it or not, the special gland that skunks have is called the anal gland, and it’s located near their butt, just underneath their tail. This gland produces the smelly liquid that skunks use.

This liquid has sulfur in it, which is what makes it stink so much.

However, skunks don’t produce sulfur themselves. Instead, they get sulfur from the food they eat. Skunks eat things like insects, small animals, fruits, and plants.

Some of the things they eat have sulfur in them, so when skunks eat food, their bodies break it down and take out the sulfur. Then, their bodies use that sulfur to make the smelly liquid in their glands. So, when skunks want to make their stinky spray, they just use the sulfur they got from the food they ate.

Sulfur can be found in many food sources. It can be found in certain amino acids (cysteine, methionine) which make up proteins, so meat, eggs, bugs, legumes, nuts. Some vitamins (B1 and H) also have sulfur, so food rich in those (grains, green vegetables). Some plants also contains sulfurous compounds such as alliums (garlic, onions) and brassicas (mustard, cabbage). So basically very easy to find in most environments.

Sulfur is everywhere (although not abundant, being distinctly less common than other basic building blocks like oxygen, nitrogen and carbon) and as omnivores capable of eating berries, seeds, roots and small animals (rodents, insects, birds) skunks have easy access to it.

If any food smells it basically has sulfur in it. Its very common, being an integral part of many proteins and co-factors