Striped Skunk

striped skunk

It's one of the most easily recognized mammals in our area and also a favorite meal of the Great Horned Owl. Learn more about this interesting creature below!  

The species of skunks common in this area are called Striped Skunks, named for the two white stripes down their back sometimes extending to the tail. However, it is not uncommon to see skunks with only one stripe, or even be almost all white, or almost all black. This has a lot to do with their genetics, just like people are born with different colored hair.

Both the male and female have the ability to discharge the well-known skunk scent. In calm weather skunks can spray a target accurately up to 10 feet, but the scent can drift over a mile. Their spray is mostly used for self-defense and they give several warnings before they discharge any scent. These warnings include stomping their feet, walking on their front feet with their tail in the air, hissing, or growling. While this may be an easy list for people to remember and know to turn and go the other way, it may not be the case with our pets. If you or your pet happens to get sprayed by a skunk, there are some solutions to this stinky problem.

The most important step is to wash off the victim as soon as possible with a dish washing liquid. Any of the brands that advertise about cutting through grease are the ones you want to try, not regular soap or shampoo. Wiping down with hydrogen peroxide, but avoiding the eyes, is also recommended (WARNING: hydrogen peroxide can bleach out hair, and even turn white hair/fur yellow). For clothing, soak items in vinegar and baking soda before washing. Odors in homes or vehicles can be reduced by allowing outside air to flow through every day for several weeks. Fresh pine or cedar is a good scent to cut through skunk smell too.

Skunks are omnivores, meaning they eat plants and meat both. Often in the spring and summer they are found in fresh mulch digging for grubs, but will eat a variety of other insects and even mice or young rabbits and squirrels. Don’t be surprised to see a skunk in your vegetable garden either; they tend to have a sweet tooth and love melons and berries.

Young skunks are born in May or early June with an average litter size of 5 to 6. When they are born they weigh around ½ an ounce, but by the time they are 7 weeks old they are fully furred and ready to start hunting with mom. The young will stay with their mom until the fall months. At this time family ties become lose and the young skunks disperse to find their own way in this big world. Their life expectancy is around 3 years.