Striped Skunk

Striped skunks (Mephitis mephitis) are members of the weasel family. They are black with two white stripes down the back and a bushy black tail. Skunks can grow over 2 feet long and weigh 5 to 8 pounds.

Skunks pose little threat to humans or pets. They are naturally shy, primarily active at night and move slowly while searching for food. Skunks live in dens, hollow logs or burrows, using abandoned burrows or digging their own with their long front claws.

Born in May/June, young skunks are weaned by November. About six weeks after they are born, they can begin hunting with their mother. Skunks are not social but may den together in winter for warmth. They do not hibernate but may be dormant in cold weather.

Skunks defend themselves by spraying a strong-smelling oil from special anal glands. They only spray as a last resort when threatened. Their few predators include raptors and foxes.

Skunks are omnivores. A natural diet consists of insects, small rodents, crayfish, snails, amphibians, eggs, fish, small snakes, berries, grass and nuts. Their diet can include pet food, garden plants, garbage and bird seed.

Skunks inhabit woodlands, grassy fields, wetlands and riparian areas, and suburban areas.

Willowsford Conservancy

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