The skunk is best known for their defensive mechanism and ultimate stink bomb. It’s a very powerful, horrible-smelling spray that has most of their predators giving them a wide berth. The smell lasts for many days, and has been a rather powerful ability when it comes to their survival. In terms of danger, their scent does not pose much of a threat, but as many of you pet-owners can attest to…it takes many days (and cans of tomato juice) to get rid of the smell!
But other than their famous smell, there are many other facts about this striped kitty. You can find them in forests, plains, deserts, and suburban areas of the United States and Canada. They have adapted to many climates and habitat changes and are a real survivor.
Skunks are omnivores and will eat almost anything. They will eat plants, grasshoppers, beetles, crickets, bees, wasps, grubs, insect larvae, rats, rabbits, eggs, reptiles, and even your campground garbage! Many of the insects and animals they eat are pests so it’s good to have them around.
They can grow to approximately the same size as a house cat at around 22-32 inches long. They are black with a white stripe from head though their bushy tail with a pointy nose that almost resembles a mole. They have sharp claws and can be considered the predator to less formidable prey (see their food list above). They are nocturnal and are most common smelled and not seen. If you choose to leave food out near your tent, you might get the pleasure of a face-to-face. There’s nothing like shining your flashlight on this smelly cat outside your tent to make your heart skip a beat!
The skunk mating period is between late February and early March. The babies are born “naked” and blind in May and June, and spend 6-7 weeks nursing. By Fall the liter of 6-7 striped kitties will set out on their own. While their life expectancy can be up to 10 years, most of them live fewer than 3 years in the wild.
Skunks most commonly live in dens which can come in the form of a woodpile, rock pile, cave, crevice, hollow log, stump, or under a building’s foundation! They hunt and forage year round. They do not hibernate, but rather put on a layer of fat in the fall to help them survive the winter months. In terms of wild life to track, you might want to pass on this smelly cat, but now that you know what to look for…keep an eye out just to be safe.