What Happens During and After Skunk Mating Season?Skunks hibernate after a fashion in the winter, then emerge in early spring ready to mate. Skunk mating season typically starts in February and extends through March. With a gestation period of approximately two months, female skunks give birth between April and May. Skunks do not form long-term mating pairs. Males mate with several different females over the course of their lives. Females may use a form of skunk spraying to spurn suitors that they find unsuitable. This is one reason why skunk smells are more common in late winter and early spring. Skunks spend most of the winter in a den, but after mating, a female skunk looks for a new den in which to raise the babies. Skunks are burrowing animals but prefer not to have to dig a whole new den. Rather, they may look for the abandoned den of another animal. If they do dig a new den, they typically choose a site under a sturdy object that provides some protection. In the wild, this may be a log or a rock, but skunks may also burrow under decks, porches, or sheds. A litter of skunks typically consists of four to eight babies. When they are born, they are completely dependent on their mother for food and protection. They wean at approximately six weeks, at which point they start following their mother outside to learn how to find food for themselves. By late summer or early fall, each baby skunk is mature enough to start living on its own.
What Are Some Signs That You Could Potentially Have Skunks?There are several ways to determine your property or home has been infested by unwanted visitors such as skunks:
- Skunk Smells: A musky odour is usually present to a low degree when skunks are living nearby. If the skunk has to spray in self-defence, the smell becomes exponentially stronger.
- Holes in Lawn: These are typically shallow, though they may be numerous. Skunks dig holes to find food, particularly insect larvae that live under the dirt.
- Damage to Plants: Skunks may knock over plant containers or strip leaves from garden vegetation for food. It is likely that a skunk is a culprit if the damage only occurs close to the ground.
- Paw Prints: Skunks may leave paw prints behind in snowy or muddy areas. They may also track mud over the patio. Skunks have five toes on each paw, each with a long claw. However, the fifth toe is smaller than the others and doesn't always show up as distinctly. Therefore, don't rule out the possibility of a skunk if you find tracks with only four toes.
- Signs of Burrowing: Look for holes or piles of displaced dirt under decks, sheds, porches, and steps. This indicates that a wild animal has made a den on your property, and if the other signs are present, you can make an educated guess that it is a skunk.