By: Kristi Wion
What do they look like?
- The striped skunk is about the size of a house cat, with a large deep body, small head, and short legs. The hair is long and black, with a broad patch of white on its head and shoulders. Two white lines forming a “V” from the shoulder area may extend part way or all the way to the base of the bushy tail.
- Color variations include brown, white, cream, black, and, occasionally, albino.
- Males and females are colored alike with males being slightly larger in size.
- Each foot has five slightly webbed toes with the forefeet having long, curved claws designed for digging. The rear feet have shorter, straighter claws.
What are their social habits?
- Striped skunks are highly adaptable and occupy a wide variety of habitats in Ohio from rural areas to the suburbs.
- They are omnivorous, but their favorite foods include insects, small mammals, fish, crustaceans, fruits, grasses, leaves, buds, grains, nuts, and carrion.
- Although not true hibernators, skunks store quantities of body fat in the fall. When the weather gets cold they will retreat to protective dens where they might remain for several weeks or a month at a time.
- Skunks are primarily nocturnal animals and very seldom do they wander around during the daytime. They will occupy dens that they have dug or in dens that have been used previously by groundhogs or foxes, making the skunk very resourceful. These dens may be located beneath buildings, in open fields, on hillsides, or under logs in the woods.
- Skunks give birth to litters in the springtime and litters tend to be from 2 to 10 young which are born pink-skinned and blind.
- By the second week they are furred and by the third week their eyes have opened.
- By the sixth week they are weaned and will be out and about with their mother on nightly hunting forays.
- This family will stay together until the next spring when the young will go off on their own.
Check out the Striped Skunk in action
- Skunks are very smart creatures! They have even been observed rolling fuzzy caterpillars around on the ground before eating them to get rid of their irritating hairs.
- Skunks are shy animals that don’t want to fight. They offer a series of warnings before spraying their famous spray. These can include hissing, growling and stomping. Dog are notorious for not heeding these warnings.
- In Ohio, we have striped skunks - black in color with two white lines on their back - but in other areas of the country you may see skunks with spots or even solid black
- A skunk’s claws make them excellent diggers! They dig to find insects and grubs in the soil and to create their den (sometimes under your porch or shed). However, their claws do not grow sharp enough to dig into tree bark, so they are not very good climbers.
- Skunks have poor eyesight, are active at night (nocturnal) and do not move very fast. This often leads to collisions with cars.
Here is a fun skunk craft you can make from things you probably have at home!
Want to learn more about the Striped Skunk? Check out these awesome resources: