Spring is a time of renewal. Grasses turn green again, flowers begin to poke their heads up above the newly thawed earth and baby animals of all sorts take their first breath. Among them are skunks. These docile critters come into the world in April or May and begin a skunk’s life, but what does that life look like, and are baby skunks a threat to you? Here’s what it’s like to grow up as a skunk.
Preparing for Birth
The mating season for skunks is in late winter. When a female becomes pregnant, she leaves her winter den to search for a maternal den. She looks for a place sheltered from the elements and safe from predators. Under your deck or porch may be an ideal location. While the female waits for her kits’ arrival, she’ll fill the den with grasses to make it warm and comfortable.
Coming Into the World
After a 60-day gestation period, mama gives birth to four to seven wee ones, which she’ll raise on her own. These little critters are not as cute as they’ll be in just a few weeks. At birth, baby skunks’ eyes are closed, and they can’t see even if they are open. The newborn kits are also deaf and have no teeth.
The telltale black-and-white pattern of their fur is clear, but their fur is short and fine at birth, and the skin underneath is visible. These little critters weigh about an ounce at birth. Kits are entirely dependent on mama skunk to take care of them and protect them.
Growing Up Fast
Mom has to leave the den to eat, and she can’t take her little ones with her, so she has to ensure that the den she chose is safe from predators. If you discover a skunk den with babies and no mama, she’s likely just out consuming the calories she needs to feed herself and nourish her babies. Like all mammals, skunks nurse their offspring after birth.
Within two weeks, the kits have a full body of fur. They’re adorable, and they’re still helpless. At this age, they still can’t see or hear. It isn’t until they reach about three weeks of age that they open their eyes and ears. Their teeth start coming in then, too. After about a month, the kits begin testing their muscles by walking, stamping their feet and even practicing the spraying maneuver. Though the kits can secrete small amounts of spray within a week or two of birth, they don’t have an adult’s control or bullseye aim.
Leaving the Den
After about six weeks of nursing, the kits are ready to start exploring the world beyond the den, under the watchful eye of mama skunk, of course. When they first leave the den, they weigh about 1.5 pounds, and they don’t have the strength or stamina to go far. They stick close to home and continue to nurse, supplementing any solid foods they eat outside the den.
Just two short weeks later, the babies have developed enough to venture further afield and learn the skunk ropes from mama. At this time, they become fully weaned and must learn how and what to eat to survive. They’ll stick together until the fall. By then, the babies are indistinguishable from the adults. When they go their separate ways, they begin looking for a new place to call home.
Calling Wildlife Control Services
You are most likely to discover baby skunks on your property in April or May. Kits can spray, and they’re likely to do so if disturbed. Additionally, mama is protective. Though skunks are docile by nature, a mama will not hesitate to defend her little ones. Skedaddle technicians have the skill and knowledge needed to safely and humanely remove a skunk family, ensuring mama and her babies are reunited without harming animals or humans. If you need help with baby skunk removal, give us a call!