Skunks are members of the weasel family which are also known as the Mephitidae family. They are commonly known for their ability to secrete a foul strong smelling odor from their rear end. They do so as a defensive measure when they feel threatened.
Skunks are the inhabitants of North America, Mexico, Indonesia and in some parts of the Philippines. A skunk’s presence is more often detected by the repugnant odour it produces rather than actually spotting it. This animal is nocturnal and solitary and they only socialize during mating season, though communal denning sometimes occurs during winter. The size of the most common skunk, the striped skunk, is approximately the size of a house cat.
The striking black and white colouration is the bold indicator of most skunks. These animals are extremely adaptable and have learned to live in cities. It can thrive in its habitat as long as it can tolerate the changes in food availability and environment.
According to biologists, skunks can be classified into five different species. This is referred to as Genus which is a group of related animals or plants that includes several or many different species. In regards to the Skunk all these five species are characterized into three genera : Spilogale, Conepatus and Methitis. Of these three, Methitis is the dominant genera. The five species of skunks are:
Striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis)
Eastern spotted skunk (Spilogale putorius)
Western spotted skunk(Spilogale gravilis)
Hognosed skunk (Conepatus leucontus)
Hooded skunk (Mephitis macroura)
The striped skunk is the common inhabitant of North America. This skunk has white stripes along its tail and the body of the animal is jet black in colour. Its stripe starts with a triangle at the head and break into two stripes down its back. The stripes usually meet again and form one stripe at the base of their tail. They secrete a foul smelling chemical from their rear end to protect them from prey threats. This skunk is primarily nocturnal, foraging for food at night and sleeping in its burrow during the day.
Eastern spotted skunk
Eastern spotted skunks are small, relatively slender skunks with a weasel like body shape. They are found in woodlands, prairies and sometimes rocky areas of eastern and central USA and north-east Mexico. Like other skunks, they are also nocturnal and follow omnivorous diet.
Western spotted skunk
The western spotted skunk is comparatively smaller than the striped skunk and eastern spotted skunk. They have glossy fur interrupted with distinct white stripes on the forward part of the body. The posterior part of the body has two strips and one big white spot. The other habits of western spotted skunk are similar to all other species.
The ‘hognosed’ name comes due to the skunk’s distinctive blunt nose which resembles a pig’s snout. In addition to their distinctive nose, skunks in this genus have coarser fur than other skunk species. They are rare but can be found in some parts of South America, Indonesia, and Philippines. Hognosed skunk tend to roam more and never return to the same den twice.
Hooded skunks are more or less similar to striped skunks. They are about 28-33 cm long. They are white from the top of their head to the end of their tail and their underside, face and legs are black. The habits of hooded skunk are similar to that of other skunks as well.
All the five species of skunks have excellent smell and hearing but they are known for having poor vision. Baby skunks are born completely toothless and blind with the eyes of the baby skunk not opening until it is is a few weeks old. Skunks can be harmful in many ways, they can not only destroy property but also are carriers of rabies.
There are various methods for skunk control and prevention. The best methods are physical barriers to den sites and the removal of food sources. However, one should be aware of the rules and regulations of wildlife control of the particular area before adopting any one of the methods of animal control. Better yet, anyone dealing with skunk problems should call a wildlife control company like Skedaddle Humane Wildlife Control to ensure that only humane and safe skunk removal strategies are used to get rid of the problem.