Striped Skunk (Mephitis mephitis)

The first thing many people think of when they hear skunk is, “Ewww! They Stink!” Actually, skunks do not stink. The horrible smell associated with them is a defense mechanism. Glands under their bushy tails produce an oily liquid that a skunk can spray as a mist up to 10 feet away. It smells bad. It is difficult to get rid of and it can linger for days. It doesn’t harm the skunk’s predators but it does make them quite uncomfortable. The skunk is well aware of how awful this smells as it will not spray in its own den or in a closed space.
 
Description: 
Striped skunks are about the size of the average domestic house cat. Their beautiful fur is black with a distinctive white stripe. The white stripe begins at the tip of the nose and extends down the head. When it reaches the thick black fur of the body, it splits into two and goes down the sides of the back. It then becomes a single white stripe again on the tail ending in a white tip. They weigh about 7 pounds and are about 2 feet long. They have semi-webbed feet with long, sharp claws good for foraging and digging. Their short legs make them slow, so it is a good thing they have a good defense mechanism. They have excellent hearing and smell but poor vision.
 
Habitat: 
They live in forests in burrows, sometimes dug by other animals, or hollow logs. In urban environments they will live in abandoned buildings, under houses or under sheds.
 
Range: 

They can be found all over the Unites States and Canada.

Diet: 

Omnivore. They eat small plants, fruits, insects, worms and even small mammals and fish. 

 

Life Span: 
The average life span is 3 years in the wild and up to 15 years in human care.
 
Family Life: 
Females give birth to one litter of 2-10 young each year. The young, or kits, stay with their mom for a few months before heading out on their own. They then live solitary lives except during mating seasons.
 
Status: 

Least Concern.