Skunks are mammals known for their ability to spray a liquid with a very strong odor. All skunks are striped from birth. It may be a single thick stripe down their back, to thinner stripes or a series of spots and broken stripes. Depending on the species, they are black-and-white to brown or cream color. Skunks vary in size from 15.6 to 37 inches in length and weigh anywhere from 1.1 to 18 pounds. Their bodies are moderately elongated with short, well-muscled legs with long front claws suite for digging. The stripped skunk is second only to the raccoon in the number of recorded rabies cases in the United States but it is good to know that it is very rare for them to bite.
Diet & Behavior
Skunks are omnivores, eating both plant and animal material and their diets tend to change as the season do. They will eat earthworms, grubs, insects and larvae, lizards, rodents, salamanders, frogs, snakes, birds, moles and eggs. They will also feed on roots, berries, grasses, leaves, fungi and nuts when available. In urban areas they will eat garbage that is left out by humans and people with pets, especially those with cats may find skunks sneaking into basements where pet food is kept. Unless skunks are breeding, they are solitary animals. In the winter they will den up together for warmth but they are not true hibernators- but will remain petty inactive and feed rarely-going into a dormant stage. They have an excellent sense of smell and hearing and have poor eye sight. They are unable to see objects more than 10 feet away. Making them more vulnerable to death by road traffic. They have a lifespan in the wild of only seven years with most only living about a year and can live up to 10 years in captivity.
Defensive Behavior of Skunks
Skunks have anal scent glands that are used for self-defense. They are located on each side of the anus and the spray is a mixture of sulfur, containing other chemicals like thiols that produce the nauseating and offensive odor. In fact, the spray is so powerful that it can ward off bears and other predators. The spray of a skunk can cause temporary blindness. They are cautious about using this weapon as they only carry enough to use it about five or six times and need about 10 days to produce another supply. Skunks will hiss, stamp their feet and hold their tails high in the air and use threatening postures to ward of an attack before resorting to the spray.
The best way to control and prevent skinks is exclusion. Make sure there aren’t any holes next to structures where they may gain entry to create a den. Fill holes with dirt or concrete or cover then with a heavy wire mesh. Remove any cover that the skunks will find appealing like lush vegetation, woodpiles, brush, old vehicle, etc. You will also have to check local regulations as to trapping and relocation.