A search is under way after a pet skunk escaped from its home - with its owner warning it is 'fully loaded' with the animal's trademark foul-smelling spray.
Sky the skunk snuck out of owner Sharon Tyler's back garden after a gate was left unlocked, sparking a hunt for the much-loved pet.
Tyler, 55, has even roped in a fellow skunk owner who has been walking his pet on a lead around nearby streets in Christchurch, Dorset, in the hope it will pick up Sky's scent.
Sky lives with her owner, a pest technician, in a ground floor flat and usually has the run of the garden via a dog flap.
Tyler is currently living in alternative accommodation while building work is taking place at her home and has been checking on Sky twice a day – only to find she had escaped.
She said: "My garden is skunk proof with no digging areas. But I stupidly left the gate unlocked and it must have blown open in the wind.
"I checked up on Sky last Friday night and she had gone by Saturday morning.
"She won't have gone far. She is seven-and-a-half-years old which is quite old for a skunk and I'm sure she is curled up asleep in a shed somewhere.
"She is capable of spraying and is fully loaded and frightened of strangers. The spray is stinky when it happens but it is such a rarity. Sky has only released her spray once before."
She said Sky is "really nervous" and would probably run off if approached, but urged people to contact her if they spotted her skunk.
"She is really nervous and will probably run off if she is approached by someone she doesn't know.
"So if anybody has seen her they should call me straight away.
Tyler said although Sky eats chicken, she is not a threat to domestic pets as she is used to being round them at home.
The striped mammal is described as having a chocolate brown and white furry coat and weighs about 9lbs.
Skunks are native to North and South America and in the wild are known to eat rodents, frogs, birds and even snakes.
They are well-known for their ability to spray a strong, unpleasant scent from their anal glands.
What does skunk spray do to you?
When a skunk sprays, the liquid it shoots from its anal glands is an organic compound called a 'thiol' - which smells like rotten eggs.
The liquid is not thought to be particularly harmful - but if sprays into the eyes, can cause stinging, burning and temporary blindness.
Breathing it in can also irritate the lungs and potentially exacerbate asthma symptoms, though this is thought to be quite rare.
If pets ingest skunk spray it can also make them ill.