There are 10 species of skunks in the world and there common names are the striped skunk, hooded skunk, hog-nose skunk and stink badger. Two species of the stink badgers are common in Indonesia and the Philippines while the bulk of the species are inhabitants of North and South America. The most common skunk in the United States is the striped skunk easily identified by its black body and white stripes. Skunks are probably best known for the foul smelling defensive scent they are able to secrete from their anal glands.
Here are 25 intersting facts about skunks:
1. Skunks are omnivores.
2. Skunks generally forage at night and eat plants, insects, worms, eggs, reptiles and rodents.
3. Skunks are a predator of honeybees and will attack a beehive.
4. The life span of a wild skunk is about three years while domesticated skunks can live up to 10 years.
5. Skunks have short legs and well developed claws that are used for digging.
6. Skunks range in length from 8-19 inches (head and body). Adult skunks can weigh up to approximately 14 pounds.
7. Skunks are relatively slow moving animals and can run up to 10 miles an hour.
8. Skunks have excellent hearing and an excellent sense of smell; however, they have poor vision.
9. Males usually mate with multiple females.
10. Skunks mate in February.
11. The gestation period is 7-10 weeks and the young are born in May. The gestation period for yearlings (first time mothers) is a bit longer.
12. A litter of skunks can range between 2 and 10 off spring.
13. New born skunks stay with their mother until the fall.
14. Skunks do not hibernate but are dormant for about a month during the coldest part of the winter.
15. The oily musk that skunks can secrete is produced in anal glands under their tail.
16. Skunks can accurately spray the foul smelling fluid up to ten feet.
17. Skunks can discharge the smelly defensive musk several times.
18. The musk sprayed by a skunk is relatively harmless although it is very difficult to get rid of.
19. Skunks do carry rabies; the Center for Disease (CDC) recorded over 1400 cases of rabid skunks in the United States during 2006.
20. Most predators such as wolves and foxes seem to be aware of the defensive spray of skunks and shy away from them in search of easier prey.
21. Green horned owls are the main predators of skunks. Owls like most birds have a poor sense of smell.
22. Skunks are generally mild tempered animals and will only discharge the musk from their anal glands when they are threatened.
23. Skunks will stamp their feet, raise their tails and lurch their backs when the feel threatened. If you are faced with this situation it is wise to quietly retreat.
24. Skunks are usually solitary creatures when they are not mating but may den together in the cold months.
25. Skunks can be pests: given the opportunity they will prey on poultry and rummage through garbage. Skunks will also dig and den under buildings and structures.
Skunks are beautiful animals and in my lifetime I have had several unexpected encounters with these wonderful creatures. I was able to admire their beauty and luckily for me I was able to retreat quietly.