Striped skunks are easily recognized by their characteristic colors and pattern. The fur is black with a white stripe that begins as a triangular shape on the top of the head, forks into two stripes that travel down the sides of the back, and usually merges again near the base of the tail. Another white stripe runs from the base of the snout between the eyes and ends on the forehead. Stripe width and length vary with each animal. Stripes sometimes occur on the tail, but more often the tail is composed of both black and white hairs intermixed. Mephitis mephitis is about the size of a domestic cat, with a small head, small ears, short legs, and a long, fluffy tail. Feet are plantigrade with 5 partially webbed toes. Claws are longer on the front feet to aid in digging. The skull is distinct from other carnivores in having only 1 molar on each side of the upper jaw and 2 on each side of the lower jaw. Total length varies between 575 and 800 mm, tail length from 173 to 307 mm.