Skunks are distinctive mammals, as much for their looks as for their smell. Many dog owners are all too familiar with the odor as adventurous dogs frequently become the target for skunk spray, which is the animals primary defense against predators. Though most of us can identify a skunk from one of their two famous features, their stink and their stripe, a lot people do not know much else about them.
Prowling About Town
Though they are sometimes seen during the daylight hours, most skunk happenings occur under the cover of darkness. They are primarily nocturnal, but they have poor eyesight and are easily startled. Their predators include owls, coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions and foxes, all of which are stealth and fast. As such, making noise and moving slowly are the two best ways to prevent getting sprayed, though teaching your dog those tricks may be impossible!
Skunks are omnivorous, which means that they munch on almost anything edible. This, along with their denning preferences, is one of the primary reasons people run into skunk trouble. They have no problem feasting on the leftovers you tossed into the garbage bin or on Fido’s 50-pound bag of food you keep stored on the back porch because it’s too big to keep inside! Skunks are good at keeping insects and rodents in check, however, as both are a part of their diet.
Looking for Love
As mammals, skunks give birth to live babies, called kits. Mating season begins just as the weather starts to warm and skunks begin to emerge from their dens. Though they don’t hibernate, they do enter a state of torpor in which they go dormant, surviving off of their stores of fat. Males are the ones to head off in hot pursuit of their mates, often impregnating more than one female per season. The females give birth only once per year.
Mothers have between two and 10 kits in a litter. They are single mothers by choice. After they breed, they shun the male and won’t let him near her throughout her pregnancy. She also raises the offspring on her own. When the babies are born, they are furless, but still have the distinctive stripe, visible in the skin pigmentation. Their eyes are closed at birth as well. At eight days old, the kits can spray, and after three weeks, they open their eyes.
Babies are weaned at eight weeks, which is when they head out of the den with their mother to learn the art of being a skunk. Males tend to strike out for independence by late summer, while females stick with mom through the year. Sexual maturity is reached at 10 months. After denning down for the winter, the mom and her previous year’s offspring are ready for mating season to begin again.
Making a Home
Skunks like to make their dens in places that give them shelter and access to food and water. Often, this is on residential properties. They frequently dig into the dirt to create a living space. They are particularly fond of burrowing under garages, barns and the underside of porches for the added shelter these structures provide.
Skunks aren’t aggressive, and they won’t chew on structures, but they are known to raid chicken coops for the eggs. If you find a skunk on your property, be sure to contact Hamilton skunk removal experts to ensure the animal is safely removed. Though they are easily frightened off, care must be taken to avoid separating a mother from her offspring.
Hamilton Skunk Removal
At Skedaddle Humane Wildlife Control, our technicians are trained in how to safely access den sites to remove a skunk and any babies, which are then kept in a baby box until they are reunited with the mother. If you are concerned about skunks on your property, contact the experts in humane skunk removal.