Skunks: 10 interesting facts about these striped animals

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Skunks are very well known for their pungent spray, but there’s more to these striped animals people don’t know about. Skunks may vary in colour, and may be spotted or striped. They belong to the family of Mephitidae, and the most common, the striped skunk, found in Canada is called Mephitis mephitis.

Skunks are just as interesting as others in animal kingdom. There are many things about them that makes even these pungent little critters special. Let us take a look at some of them.

  1. Skunk’s chemical spray is not their normal gas release. The spray is actually produced by two anal glands, is highly repellant, and comes in a limited amount. Skunks cannot spray all the time; they need time to replenish the substance produced by the glands.
  2. Skunks warn their predators by squealing or hissing, pounding their claws to the ground and uncurling their bushy tails. They even perform warning dances. This is to intimidate predators and shoo them away, conserving their spray and minimizing the risks of being preyed upon while the glands are out of substance. They can shoot a target within ten feet.
  3. Skunk spray contains thiols which are sulfur-based compounds. This makes the spray highly flammable. The spray can cause nausea and temporary blindness, depending on the intensity and to the level of exposure to the spray. It may also take several weeks or months for the odour to go away completely.
  4. They are excellent diggers but poor climbers. Their short legs are ideally for digging. They burrow dens and may take refuge under houses’ foundations, sheds, decks and porches. They are unable to climb onto a roof and get into an attic.
  5. Skunks are nocturnal animals. Since they forage at night, they are more vulnerable to terrestrial attacks compared to daytime hunters. This is also the reason why skunks have evolved to produce an effective anti-predator spray.
  6. Skunks are docile animals and are less likely to pick fights themselves. They are even willing to share their dens with other skunks, unless there is a mother skunk caring for her kits.
  7. Male skunks usually mate with multiple females. Their mating season starts by the month of February.
  8. Skunks have a very developed sense of hearing and smell, although they have poor eyesight.
  9. A skunk litter may be composed of 2-10 kits. The mother protects the young and will aggressively defend when threat is sensed. The babies will continue to live with their mothers until the fall season.
  10. Skunks can carry rabies. Since they are nocturnal, skunks seen in daytime are suspected to be carriers of rabies, especially if they act uncharacteristically. However, mother skunks also forage by day to find food for their young, so not all skunks that you see roaming around by daytime are guaranteed carriers of rabies.

Skunks are not all bad. They do what they can to survive, and people need to see that they have their own roles in the balance of our environment. They belong to the wild, and if some of them get astray and somehow wound up being in your property, find a wildlife control company that offers humane ways like Skedaddle. You will not only save your family’s life, but the lives of these creatures as well.


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