Skunk mating season stretches from February through the end of March, meaning residents may notice that familiar smell wafting through their neighborhoods, as well as increased sightings of skunks’ bushy black tails scurrying for cover.
When February rolls around, males will begin looking for females for breeding. They will travel up to 10 kilometers during mating season but generally travel only a kilometer or two.
The stink occurs when males try to court females who may not be “in the mood.” When that happens, female skunks generate an aroma to repel their rejected suitors. Fortunately, skunk romance only lasts a short time.
When a litter of babies will be born depends on when the mother was born and the harshness of the winter in the area. A mild winter with very little snow on the ground will bring out males in early February.
Harsher winters may postpone the emergence of males a few weeks toward March. Yearling female skunks, those that were born during the previous year, will not be ready to mate in February. Yearlings wait until March or April before they will accept a mate.
The gestation period for skunks is 60 to 75 days. Baby skunks are born in litters of one to fifteen kittens. Kittens conceived at the beginning of the mating cycle by older skunks in February will be born between by the beginning of May. Kittens born to yearling mothers conceived in April will be born at the end of June.
After mating, male skunks have little to do with the protection, feeding and rearing of young skunks. When striped skunks are born, they are mostly pink with faint black and white traces and very little to no fur. The babies are completely blind and do not open their eyes until they are three weeks old. The kits produce musk when they are only eight days old, but they are unable to spray intruders until they reach about three weeks old.
Rearing litters of kittens is entirely up to the female. After 2 to 3 months, the babies can be seen following their mother as she makes her nightly rounds in search of food.
Mother skunks will rear their litters in their dens. Although skunks are not generally aggressive animals, they will become aggressive if they feel their babies are in danger, and will spray anything they see as a threat.
Skunks give warning signs before spraying like stamping front feet, a raised tail, hissing, and forward charges. The most prevalent warning of a skunk is twisting its hind end in the direction of whom or what it is threatening to spray.
Skunks are capable of breeding the spring following birth. The average lifespan of skunks is around 2 to 3.5 years, although they can occasionally live up to 7 years in the wild.
Skunks are excellent diggers, and like to make their dens in holes underground. A skunk living under a shed or deck from April to September should be assumed to be a mother
Skunks are excellent mothers and will move their babies to a new den site when frightened, but evicting a mother skunk always runs the risk that she might abandon or become separated from her babies.
Skedaddle Humane Wildlife Control’s wildlife technicians are specially trained in how to deal with skunks and their babies in a humane way, so they are not separated or put under undue amounts of stress. Common skunk den sites include sheds, decks, porches and steps.
Most baby animals are not mobile for several weeks to months after birth. That means the only way to humanely remove is by hand. This method is both effective and significantly reduces any chance of injuring them. Once the babies have been retrieved, they are placed inside a specially designed and heated reunion box. We then use heavy gauge steel screen to block off the entry point.
The baby reunion box is designed so that it can be placed near the entry point so their mom can come back and move them to one of her alternate den sites in the area.
If you think you have a skunk problem, call Skedaddle Humane Wildlife Control today.1-888-592-0387.
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