Jan 21

Commuting to work whilst standing in the fall-out zone of other passengers’ smelly armpits isn’t exactly fun is it? Well, it turns out that humans have it easy compared to some of the foul odours produced by other species – but which is the smelliest species of them all?

The contenders

Skunks, perhaps the most famous smelly animal of them all, secrete chemicals from their anal glands as a defence mechanism. Although best steered clear of, I think there are other even stinkier species out there…

Striped skunk photo

A far cry from a sweet-scented bunch of flowers, the titan arum is nicknamed the “corpse flower” because its enormous purple buds smell of rotting flesh! But is it the smelliest species?

Titan arum photo

Our next contender is the offensively malodorous, and aptly named, stinkhorn. Once fully grown the cap of this fungus becomes slimy and develops an unpleasant smell which attracts flies. Anything but a ‘fun-gi’ if you ask me…

Stinkhorn photo

Forget aftershave, male muskox emit a strong musky odour during the rutting season to attract females. In fact, you may have unknowingly applied muskox urine to yourself as it is sometimes used as a fixative in perfumes.

Muskox photo

Banded mongooses might look cute but their personal habits are somewhat undesirable. When a group of banded mongooses encounter fresh hippo, buffalo or elephant dung, they roll around in it coating their fur in the dung. It’s not clear exactly why they do this, but it certainly makes them smell bad!

Banded mongoose photo

The smelliest animal of them all

The prize for the smelliest animal goes to…the zorilla! These miniature skunk-lookalikes secrete a pungent fluid from their anal glands when defending themselves against predators. There are even reports that the smell can be detected over a kilometre away! 

Zorilla photo

So there you have it, a run down of the world’s stinkiest species! If you know of any other species that might beat the zorilla in the stink stakes, let us know!

Bonnie Metherell, ARKive Media Researcher