About three weeks after birth, they first open their eyes; the kits are weaned about two months after birth. Skunks are not true hibernators in the winter, but do den up for extended periods of time. Your heart almost fails you when you approach the animal; two have been killed in our court, and several days afterward there was such a dreadful odor throughout our house that we could not endure it. Like all other skunks, it defends itself from predators with its strong, acrid scent. Skunks are omnivorous, eating both plant and animal material and changing their diets as the seasons change.

The striped hog-nosed skunk has dusky brown fur interrupted by two white stripes that extend down its back. Skunks range from 16 to 39 inches (40 to 98 cm) in length. But not all skunks have the same black and white patterns. Due to the chemical composition of the spray, most of these household remedies are ineffective. It does not have a stripe on its forehead. [27][28] The typical skunk colors of black and white vary by species. The exceptions are reckless predators whose attacks fail once they are sprayed, dogs, and the great horned owl,[15] which is the skunk's only regular predator. I believe the sin smelled by Saint Catherine de Sienne must have had the same vile odor. However, skunk problems typically arise when they spray in defense, dig holes in search of food, or burrow in and around your home for shelter. Karen earned her Bachelor of Science in geology. [2][3][4] Different species of skunk vary in appearance from black-and-white to brown, cream or ginger colored, but all have warning coloration. Hog-nosed skunks, found in Texas and Mexico, are the largest North American skunks, growing to about 3 feet long. Skunk control is about ensuring skunks are kept off your land. The word "skunk" is an Americanism from the 1630s, the Massachusetts reflex (linguistics) of Proto-Algonquian squunck, from a southern New England Algonquian language (probably Abenaki) seganku, from Proto-Algonquian */šeka:kwa/, from */šek-/ "to urinate" + */-a:kw/ "fox. Skunks are one of the primary predators of the honeybee, relying on their thick fur to protect them from stings.

Pet owners, particularly those of cats, may experience a skunk finding its way into a garage or basement where pet food is kept. Why is it important to know about the various species of skunks? They may have a single thick stripe across back and tail, two thinner stripes, or a series of white spots and broken stripes (in the case of the spotted skunk). Conscious of its power, it roams by day about the open plain, and fears neither dog nor man. Of the twelve species of skunks, nine species reside in the Western hemisphere. ", "Skunk" has historic use as an insult, attested from 1841.[5]. Texas Tech University - Natural Science Research Laboratory: Common Hog-nosed Skunk, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology - Animal Diversity Web: Striped Skunk, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources: Eastern Spotted Skunk, Montana's Official State Website: Montana Field Guide -- Western Spotted Skunk, University of Massachusetts: Black, White and Stinky - Explaining Coloration in Skunks and Other Boldly Colored Animals, Animal Diversity Web: Mephitis mephitis - Striped Skunk, Pennsylvania State University: Species Pages - Mephitis mephitis, Terminix: How to Identify Different Types of Skunks. Some also have stripes on their legs. Skunks usually do not spray other skunks, except among males in the mating season. †Brachyprotoma. I mention it here, not on account of its excellence, but to make of it a symbol of sin. If you want an expert opinion, see your local pest control specialist. [1] The animals are known for their ability to spray a liquid with a strong, unpleasant smell. Skunks differ in coat color, coat patterns, and size. [29] When a skunk is kept as a pet, its scent glands are often surgically removed. [29] In the UK, skunks can be kept as pets,[30] but the Animal Welfare Act 2006 made it illegal to remove their scent glands. Although the most common fur color is black and white, some skunks are brown or grey and a few are cream-colored. Hog-nosed skunks have a prominent bare nose they use to plow up ground looking for insects, bringing them the nickname of "rooter" skunks. It has a single broad white stripe on its back and tail, and a pink nose that is 3 to 4 times as wide as the nose of a North American striped skunk. Choosing the right skunk bait is essential for trapping skunks. Any pest or DIY problem you may have, he always seems to come up with the right solution. The information on these pages is for information only, and must not be seen as expert advice. Karen taught middle school science for over two decades, earning her Master of Arts in Science Education (emphasis in 5-12 geosciences) along the way.

The skunks are a family of small carnivorous mammals mostly native to the Americas from Canada to Argentina. Some skunks are friendly woodland visitors, others are a serious nuisance, and still others are most often encountered as pets. This species hunches its back into a U shape to point its scent glands at a potential predator. This skunk prefers to live in dry tropical forests where there are lots of rocks. Skunks in the Western hemisphere are predominantly black and white, but the patterns of their colors vary. Read more about how to tell male skunks from female skunks. While skunks might not be everyone's first choice, breeders and enthusiasts take pride in their pets. Less often, skunks may be found acting as scavengers, eating bird and rodent carcasses left by cats or other animals. [18] The Humane Society of the United States recommends treating dogs using a mixture of dilute hydrogen peroxide (3%), baking soda, and dishwashing liquid. .mw-parser-output table.biota-infobox{text-align:center;width:200px;font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output table.biota-infobox th.section-header{text-align:center}.mw-parser-output table.biota-infobox td.section-content{text-align:left;padding:0 0.25em}.mw-parser-output table.biota-infobox td.list-section{text-align:left;padding:0 0.25em}.mw-parser-output table.biota-infobox td.taxon-section{text-align:center;padding:0 0.25em}.mw-parser-output table.biota-infobox td.image-section{text-align:center;font-size:88%}.mw-parser-output table.biota-infobox table.taxonomy{margin:0 auto;text-align:left;background:transparent;padding:2px}.mw-parser-output table.biota-infobox table.taxonomy tr{vertical-align:top}.mw-parser-output table.biota-infobox table.taxonomy td{padding:1px}, Conepatus In the United States, skunks were once commonly known as “polecats,” although nowadays the term is more commonly applied to unrelated animals that live in Europe. Skunks are North and South American mammals in the family Mephitidae. I have seen three or four of them. In addition, in California, skunks dig up yellow-jacket (small hornet) nests in summer, after the compacted soil under oak trees dries out and cracks open, which allows the yellow-jackets to build their nests underground. The tail is bushy and well furnished with hair, like the tail of a Fox; it carries it curled back like that of a Squirrel. Pygmy spotted skunks, found along the Pacific coast in southern Mexico, are the smallest skunks. [14] Their bold black and white coloration makes their appearance memorable. [citation needed], Most predators of the Americas, such as wolves, foxes and badgers, seldom attack skunks, presumably out of fear of being sprayed.

Striped Skunks also have a little white stripe between their eyes. [31], In alphabetical order, the living species of skunks are:[32], Common name of mammals in the family Mephitidae, "skunk noun - Definition, pictures, pronunciation and usage notes - Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary", "SKUNK - meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary", "skunk - meaning of skunk in Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English - LDOCE". Their black-and-white pattern typically shows one very wide white stripe running from the top of the head all the way to the tip of the almost completely white tail. It also has a white stripe in the middle of its forehead. Hooded skunks, Mephitis macroura, differ from striped skunks in that their tails are longer, they have tufts of fur around their necks, and (according to brave sources) their fur is softer. She worked as a geologist for ten years before returning to school to earn her multiple subject teaching credential. Hog-nosed skunks, wild skunks of Central and South America that have a pink snout resembling a pig’s, may weigh as much as 40 pounds (18 kilos). (However this varies regionally in the United States, with raccoons dominating along the Atlantic coast and the eastern Gulf of Mexico, while skunks instead predominate, throughout the Midwest including the western Gulf, and in California. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. [16] In one case, the remains of 57 striped skunks were found in a single great horned owl nest. "The History of Skunk Defensive Secretion Research", "A chemical study of the secretion of the anal glands of, Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, "Rabies surveillance in the United States during 2013", U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Is That Skunk? It is more white than black; and, at the first glance, you would say, especially when it walks, that it ought to be called Jupiter's little dog. Molina’s hog-nosed skunk, which ranges through Argentina, Bolivia, southern Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay, has a small, flat, pink nose, and a broad area of white fur on its back interrupted by a faint black stripe.

All species of skunks have short, powerful legs, and paws with five appendages resembling a thumb and four fingers, but with curved claws. Color variations, however, include brown and white, all white and albino as well as champagne, lavender, smoke, mahogany and apricot. The law is different for most states and in some it is a requirement! Skunk species vary in size from about 15.6 to 37 in (40 to 94 cm) long and in weight from about 1.1 lb (0.50 kg) (spotted skunks) to 18 lb (8.2 kg) (hog-nosed skunks). During the day they shelter in burrows, which they can dig with their powerful front claws. Read here to learn if it’s legal to kill skunks in your state. If a dog is urged to the attack, its courage is instantly checked by a few drops of the fetid oil, which brings on violent sickness and running at the nose. It feeds on insects in warm weather and eats rodents and carrion during the winter. It is well equipped, however, to defend itself with its spray.

DNA testing in the 1990s reclassified stink badgers as skunks. From striped to spotted, hooded to hog-nosed and stink badgers, black and white dominate skunk colors. They generally stay with their mother until they are ready to mate, roughly at one year of age. Skunks are placental, with a gestation period of about 66 days.[10]. For the most part, so do other animals. They are short-lived; their lifespan in the wild can reach seven years, with most living only up to a year. It avoids the native cobras by living in grasslands. Is it true that tomato sauce will get rid of the smell of a skunk? The Southern spotted skunk is found in southern Mexico and in most of Central America. Skunks are distantly related to weasels, ferrets, badgers (of the non-stinking variety in North America and Europe), and otters. Skunks are crepuscular and solitary animals when not breeding, though in the colder parts of their range, they may gather in communal dens for warmth. If they fight over den space in autumn, they do so with teeth and claws. Know your skunks and how to control skunks to avoid getting sprayed and to recognize species of skunks that may congregate in large numbers on your property or even under your house.

The American hog-nosed skunk ranges from Texas and New Mexico in the United States throughout Mexico and down to Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Spotted skunks, the species of skunks sometimes kept legally as pets, weigh as little as a pound (500 grams). Skunks mate in early spring and are polygynous (that is, successful males are uninhibited from mating with additional females. Copyright 2020 Leaf Group Ltd. / Leaf Group Media, All Rights Reserved. However, they remain generally inactive and feed rarely, going through a dormant stage.