Skunk Paw Print

 
   

Skunks:

The skunk is a small-sized, stocky mammal with a small head, short ears, short legs and a prominent long-haired tail. There are 5 clawed toes on each foot, front longer than back. Typically, the body is mostly black with a thin white stripe down the center of the face, a broader stripe from the back of the neck, forking down the back. Average weight is 3 1/2 to 10 pounds. Their lifespan in the wild is estimated average of 2 years.

Striped skunks usually have a below ground den to call home. Sometimes they dig their own, but prefer an abandoned den of a groundhog, fox or other mammal. Some dens are in fallen tree stumps, brush piles, or under a building such as your porch. Skunks are primarily nocturnal beginning in late afternoon/early evening and foraging most of the night.



Baby Skunk
   
They do not hibernate, but do become dormant (sleepy) during cold weather sometimes for a month or more. So they have to store up fat during the fall to survive harsh winters. Skunks do not smell bad themselves, but when provoked (self-defense), two glands located at the base of the tail can squirt the skunk stink fluid on a target at a distance of 5-10 feet, and spray less accurately for up to 20 feet. The smell can carry for over a mile. They usually warn before spraying by stomping their front feet, and by raising and fluffing out their tail. Beware if the skunk is facing you and arches its body into a "U" shape, with it's tail pointing at you as well. It's time to quickly back away!


Baby Skunk
   

Geographic Range:

From Northern Canada throughout the United Sates and into Northern Mexico

   

Food Preferences:

Insects are the food of choice during spring and summer - grasshoppers, beetles, grub worms and larvae are some delicacies. During the fall and winter, they eat plant and animal foods in about equal amounts, depending on what is available - mice, rats, moles, frogs, crayfish, minnows, nuts, grains, some grasses, buds and roots are included in their diets. Occasionally they eat bird eggs.



Baby Skunks
   

Enemies:

Most other animals do not include skunks as their favored prey, maybe because they respect or fear the smelly consequences. But if starving, great horned owls, coyotes, foxes and bobcats may prey on the young skunks. Other enemies include fleas, lice, ticks, roundworms, tapeworms and rabies as well as cars. Skunks don't move too quickly and don't like to back down.



Adult Skunk