COMMON NAME (SCIENTIFIC NAME)Mephitis mephitis
DIETInsects, small mammals, fish, crustaceans, fruits, nuts, leaves, grasses, carrion
RANGECentral Canada to northern Mexico
HABITATWoodlands, grasslands, and meadows
The striped skunk can be anywhere from 8-19 inches long with a tail that is 5-15 inches long, and they typically weigh around 10 lbs. Their distinct black body with 2 white stipes helps to warn predators against approaching them. Two glands that are located near the base of their tail produce the foul smelling, oily musk that they will spray at potential threats. Their spray can reach a distance of up to 10 feet!
Most predators, except dogs, will avoid skunks because of the foul, oily musk they produce from their anal glands. Before spraying, they do try warning predators by hissing, stamping, etc.
In the wild, skunks will live an average of 2-3 years, but in human care, they have been known to live 8-12 years.
Skunks are a more solitary species and will usually only come together for breeding from February through April. After mating, the female may become aggressive toward approaching males. After a gestation period of approximately 59-77 days, the female will give birth to 2-10 kits or kittens. Their eyes will open at about 3 weeks old, and they will be weaned at 6-7 weeks old.
Most of the time, skunks are feared by people thinking they are pests or will spray if you’re too close. But did you know? Skunks will only spray as an absolute last defense and will give several warning signs before they do. If fully sprayed, it takes them 10 days to replenish their glands which can be costly in the wild.
Skunks are actually very beneficial to farmers, gardeners, and landowners. Skunks feed on pests such as mice and insects which in turn can help crops and plants thrive!
Some well-meaning people will trap and relocate these pesky animals but the truth is, trapping rarely ends well for wildlife and is not a long term solution. If wild animals are not causing damage or posing danger, the best solution is to coexist!