Urban Wildlife Series | Skunks!
Skunks is commonly found in a variety of habitats including woodlands, forests, wooded ravines and grassy plains. Over time, however, they have become more prominent in areas of extreme cultivation as well as in suburban neighborhoods. Other habitats may include scrubland, riparian areas and urban environments. They are nocturnal and spend little time out and about during their day likely underground in their very well dug dens.
Skunks do not hibernate, although in northern regions, they may spend several weeks being inactive in their underground dens.
Skunks are Omnivores and eat many things humans do not want around their homes. Ants, mice, spiders. They have poor vision and can see only about 3m in front of them and therefore have excellent sense of smell.
Striped skunks are easily distinguishable by their coloration pattern. With overall black pelage, they have a thin, white stripe along the center-top of their snout and forehead as well as a prominent white marking on their nape. While pattern varies greatly across individuals, the white marking on their nape typically runs along the dorsum, splitting into a thick, V-shape as it approaches their rump. Additionally, there are frequently white hairs on the edges of their bushy, black tail. With their small, triangular-shaped heads, striped skunks have short ears and black eyes. Their maw holds 34 total teeth. Their legs are stout, with five-toed plantigrade feet and long foreclaws for digging.
Most animals learn to recognize a skunk’s striped pattern and avoid it, although occasionally coyotes, foxes and bobcats prey on them.
They display minor sexual dimorphism, the males are slightly larger than the females. While most sources agree that skunks about the size of domestic cats.
Measurements of body mass show a large range, between 0.7 to 6.3 kg. However, during periods of wintering, a reduction in body mass can result in losses of up to 47.7% in males and 50.1% in females, mostly due to fat metabolism.
Skunks are not deft climbers and, if they fall into window wells or other holes on your property, may need assistance in getting out. To do this, lay a 2 x 6 or other wide plank into the window well or hole and wait for the skunk to climb out.
If a skunk has found its way into your house or garage, leave the door open and allow the skunk to depart on its own time. Don’t prod or agitate the skunk.
A skunk can spray their offensive odour up to 4.5 m (15 ft) which can be smelled 1.6 km (1 mile) away. It is their last line of defense since it takes up to 2 weeks to refresh their supply. Despite tales, tomato juice is not effective if sprayed because the skunk spray is an acid and oily in composition and so a base is more effective (watch the video for a recipe). Although clothing usually cannot be saved.
Under normal circumstances, female striped skunks only reproduce once a year, although males will reproduce with multiple females. After mating, females no longer associate with males and will become aggressive towards them through vocalizing, stamping their feet and fighting if necessary.
Breeding usually occurs sometime between February and April. However, a secondary period can take place in May if the first litter is lost or in other cases. Gestation lasts about 59 to 77 days, beginning with a period of delayed implantation that can last up to 19 days. Skunks can produce a litter that ranges from 2 to 10 individuals. Baby Skuks are called Kits. Babys are born blind and deaf and mother skunks stay within 1km. Kits spend their first winter with their mother and leave to find their own territory at 1 year old.
Trapping Female Skunks to move them off your property is not recommended if they are with a litter given the reliance of their Kits on their mothers.
– Credit to Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation (AIWC)