If you ever had an interaction with a skunk, well, that situation is certainly unforgettable! The spray, a very unpleasant weapon, which comes from two glands near the base of the skunk’s tail, can hit a target 12 feet away! If you are lucky, you may get a warning before being sprayed. If threatened, skunks stamp their front feet, lift their tail, and growl. Okay, they still are kind, at least they give a warning!
Who are skunks?
Well, these interesting smelly animals are North and South American mammals. They are related to the weasel family. As we all know, these animals have the ability to spray a liquid with a strong, unpleasant smell. Different species of skunk vary in appearance from black-and-white to brown, cream or ginger colored, but all have warning coloration.
How big are they?
Species vary in size from about 40 to 94 cm long and weigh to 18 pounds. They have moderately elongated bodies with relatively short, well-muscled legs and long front claws for digging. All skunks are striped, even from birth. They may have a single thick stripe across back and tail, two thinner stripes, or a series of white spots and broken stripes. Some also have stripes on their legs. Skunks have five toes on the front paws and four toes on the back paws.
These animals are omnivorous, eating both plant and animal material and changing their diets as the seasons change. They eat insects, larvae, worms, lizards, frogs, snakes, birds and eggs. But, just like jackals, skunk’s variety diet also includes berries, leaves, roots and nuts. If they are close to humans, it can happen steeling from garbage. These nocturnal omnivores even eat carcass! Luckily, not so often.
Like bobcats, our smelly friends are solitary when not breeding. Although, they will gather around to keep warm, if they are in a colder range. Despite having excellent senses of smell and hearing, they have poor vision. Unfortunately, they are unable to see objects more than about 3 m away, making them vulnerable to death by road traffic. So, pay attention when you drive!
Skunks mate in early spring and are polygynous. Before giving birth, the female dig a burrow to house her litter of four to seven kits. The kits are weaned about two months after birth, but generally stay with their mother until they are ready to mate, at about one year of age. The mother is protective of her kits, spraying at any sign of danger. The male plays no part in raising the young. These females are so independent, right?
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