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Striped Skunk image
Striped Skunk

Striped Skunk

(Mammal)

Striped Skunk Baby
Striped Skunk Baby

Striped Skunk Habits

Striped skunks spend the day in small groups, sleeping in dens that they dig themselves or borrow from other animal species. They often share dens with foxes or racoons. The den is often occupied in summer by females and their young. At dusk, the skunks emerge from their den to forage for food. In towns and cities, skunks live in woodpiles, sheds, or under houses. In the country, they are often found in the open forest. Skunks deter their enemies by spraying a very offensive smelling fluid. It can cause temporary blindness, but its main purpose is to stop the intruder from breathing for a few seconds while the skunk escapes.

Striped Skunk Communication

Scent marking is used to communicate presence and reproductive receptivity. Other communication is visual or oral. Although they have poor vision they can send signals by raised fur and changed postures. The striped skunk is not typically vocal, but they have a keen sense of hearing and do make chattering noises, hisses, growls, and screams.

Striped Skunk Breeding

The breeding season for the striped skunk is February and March. Males begin to range widely at this time, often leaving their own territories in search of a mate. During mating season, the males are very excitable and spray large animals and humans at random.

The female skunk carries her young just over 2 months. Litter sizes range from three to ten, although the average number is four to five. The young skunks, called kits, are born blind and without fur. The female suckles the kits for 6-8 weeks until they can hunt for themselves. The young stay with their mother, often sharing a den with several families until the end of winter and the next mating season.

Striped Skunk Food & Feeding

Striped skunks are meat eaters, feeding mainly on large insects like crickets and grasshoppers and on small mammals. They also forage in the soil and among dead leaves, using their long front claws to dig up beetle grubs, earthworms, roots, and fungi. Skunks hunt by scent, sniffing slowly and carefully over the ground. Striped skunks will also eat nuts, fallen fruit, and the eggs of ground-nesting birds.

Striped Skunk Key Facts

        Size 
              Height: Length: Males, 13-18 in. Females slightly smaller. Tail, 7-10 in
              Weight: 3-6 pounds
       Breeding
             Sexual maturity: From 11 months
             Mating: February and March
             Gestation: 62-66 days
             Number of young: Usually 4 or 5
       Lifestyle 
            Habit: Nocturnal, sociable. Adult males solitary in summer
            Diet: Mainly insects and small mammals. Seasonal berries, nuts, fallen fruit, and birds eggs
            Lifespan: 7 years in the wild, 8-10 years in captivity

 

DID YOU KNOW?

  • The striped skunk's scientific name comes from a Latin word meaning "poisonous vapor".
  • Striped skunks do not use their spray on each other, even in the fiercest fight.
  • The only predator that appears to be immune to the effects of a skunks spray is the great horned owl, which hunts the striped skunk at night.
  • Skunks are resistant to snake venom. They can survive ten times the amount of venom needed to kill another animal of similar size.
  • Up to 90% of young skunks die in their first winter.

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