Animals That Stink

There are so many different types of animals all across the world, all with something unique about them that make them interesting.

Animals That Stink

Because there are so many unique animals across the world, it is helpful to develop certain categories to help to define them and to make it easier to put the entire image of the animal kingdom into perspective. 

Categories for animals tend to run the gamut from ‘animals that fly’ to ‘animals that live underground’, but less talked about are the animals that stink! 

What are some of the stinkiest animals around? Where are they commonly located? And what is it that makes them so profoundly smelly? 

If any number of these questions has taken up real estate in your mind recently, then you have come to the right place. Today we are going to list the stinkiest of all animals and all that you need to know about each one! 

Read on down below to get started.


Animals That Stink

Let’s get the most obvious one out of the way now, shall we? Whenever you think of ‘Stinky animals’, you no doubt first think of the iconic skunk. This creature is iconic precisely because of its stinky nature.

But you’ve likely wondered to yourself why it is that skunks have earned such a reputation for being stinky. The main reason that skunks stink is actually that these small creatures are massively lacking in speed! 

Most small creatures, when encountering a dangerous predator, will turn tail and run for their lives, and many are blessed with bodies that naturally help them to power through and reach high speeds.

Skunks are not blessed with speedy bodies, so they need a line of defense. This line of defense is their iconic spray. 

The spray of a skunk is highly pungent and is made up of sulphuric chemicals that mix together to create a scent so foul that it can even cause the toughest of predators to turn back and retreat.

This spray is stored in the body of the skunk, with there being the capacity for at least 8 sprays. 

The spray can be sent as far as 3 meters away, and skunks are actually known for being able to spray their scent with incredible accuracy, helping them to ward away predators very quickly.

However, despite being known for being stinky, skunks are actually wary to make use of their spray, as there is only a small space for it in the body, and it can take a very long time to refill! 

Tasmanian Devil

Animals That Stink

Though you would likely be hard-pressed to actually find a Tasmanian devil on an average day, encountering one would no doubt leave a very smelly impression on you.

These endangered creatures can now only be found in the wilds of Tasmania, one of the states of Australia. Before they earned endangered status, these creatures were once commonly found on the Australian mainland.

In order to help protect their dwindling numbers, and protect their natural habitats, these creatures are primed to release a very pungent odor whenever they detect danger, or when they are stressed. 

However, their position on this list is often questionable, as when they are not under threat, Tasmanian devils are actually totally odorless and don’t smell at all. It’s best not to threaten one! 

Stink Bird (Hoatzin)

Animals That Stink

The Hoatzin bird has earned itself a very unfortunate reputation as the aptly-named ‘Stink Bird’. The reason why they have such a harsh name is actually a direct result of their diet!

The diet of a stink bird is actually entirely plant-based, as they live off of the leaves that grow from the trees in their environment. 

However, most animals cannot easily digest leaves, which makes the digestive system of the stink bird very unique. The leaves are slowly digested using bacterial fermentation which occurs towards the front of the gut.

Some leaves naturally release their own odors, and the fermentation process in the stomach of the stink bird is incredibly pungent. When the smell of the leaves mixes with the smell of the fermentation process, it naturally results in a powerful odor.

This odor is naturally released whenever the Hoatzin excretes or passes gas. Luckily, the Hoatzin can only be found close to the Amazon, so you are not likely to encounter this odor yourself! 


Animals That Stink

The namesake of one of Marvel’s most popular characters, the wolverine is not often thought about when it comes to the subject of stinky animals, but trust us when we say that the wolverine is able to create an incredible odor. 

The wolverine is actually rather distinct from some of the other animals on this list because its smell is not actually a defense mechanism, but is instead a way for the creatures to mark and claim their own territory, as well as to signal that it is sexually available when the mating season arrives.

Wolverines do not target specific predators with their smell to protect themselves, but instead passively release their odor from the anal gland when in their own territory, in order to mark it as distinctly theirs.

The Sea Hare

Animals That Stink

You might not think that fish would be able to release such a distinct odor, being that they are based under the water, but the sea hare is here to prove that they are easily one of the stinkiest creatures on this planet.

Apex predators like sharks are able to detect specific odors in the water, such as the smell of blood, which helps them to hone in on prey.

Unfortunately, this greater sense of smell also means that creatures like sharks are susceptible to pungent and powerful odors released by the sea hare.

The sea hare is a soft-shelled mollusk that is situated on the bottom of the ocean floor, and similar to the skunk and the Tasmanian devil when it is threatened, it releases its odor into the surrounding water. 

The odor is incredibly powerful and is able to spread a fair distance through the water.

In fact, the odor released by the sea hare is known to be so pungent that it is able to totally overwhelm the senses of nearby predators, which makes them less able to hunt effectively, saving the sea hare from being hunted. 

As well as smelling totally awful, the sea hare isn’t even very appetizing to eat! Despite this, if cooked just right, the sea hare is often served as a delicacy in China.

The Bombardier Beetle

Animals That Stink

The bombardier beetle is easily one of the most pungent creatures on earth. Similar to other stinky animals, the bombardier beetle uses its odor as a defense mechanism to ward away potential predators.

As soon as it notices danger, the bombardier beetle ejects a hot chemical spray from their abdomen that is actually poisonous to other insects. If the insect is ever attacked, then it will release the compound, which can kill any attacking insects.

The compound is created from two distinct chemicals stored in the insect’s body which are mixed together upon detecting danger, alongside enzymes that help to generate a heat that can cause the compound to reach upwards of 100 degrees centigrade!

This compound is then ejected by a gas that is also made in the body, which allows the compound to reach incredible distances over four times the overall body length of the insect. 

In fact, the chemical compound is so pungent that it can actually cause irritation to human skin. Though it would not be able to kill a human being, it is able to create very strong pain! 

Musk Ox

Animals That Stink

These creatures actually managed to earn their name as a direct result of just how strongly they smell!

The ‘Musk’ is produced within the urine of the ox, which is commonly used as a way not only to mark their own territory and claim it but also to attract potential mates during the mating season. 

Unfortunately for the musk ox, much of the smell that emanates from their bodies is not actually intentional!

Because the musk ox has such a massive amount of thick hair, rather a lot of its urine ends up sticking to its hair, and becomes matted through it, meaning that they carry the odor with them. Not only does their territory smell totally awful, but they do too! 

You’ve kind of got to feel sorry for the musk ox! It cannot help itself from the reputation that it has earned! 

To Wrap Up

There you have it! Though there are a lot of stinky animals all across the world, these are easily the very stinkiest of them all!

If you encounter any of them, make sure to give them a wide berth, as you definitely don’t want to catch yourself unawares, breathing in any of their truly horrific odors! 

Most stinky animals release their odors as a defense mechanism, to surprise and disorient predators, while some just naturally stink as a result of their unique biology.
Olivia Kepner