Skunks are funny and amusing animals that have a bad reputation for their odor and destructive behaviors. These mammals have an amazing memory, more so when it comes to food, and they often are found to be guilty of repeat offenses that give them the bad press. Originally, a skunk was believed to be part of the same family as weasels, badgers and ferrets, nit they are actually related to a spate family. Through DNA testing, it has been found that skunks are part of the Mephitidae family.
The most common skunk seen today is the striped skunk and these animals have distinctive markings. They are often black with a white stripe, though some can be brown in color. Some other types of skunks that exist, but are rarer include:
- Spotted skunk
- Hooded skunk
- Hog nosed skunk
Over the years, skunks have been able to be domesticated, but those that are offered as pets are usually striped skunks. There has been some cross breeding of the striped and hooded skunk, which offers a nice variant of color and patterns.
Skunks that are still in the wild will be able to protect their young and themselves by their ability to spray. This animal can actually release a spray before they open their eyes, and they are extremely accurate They often aim for the eyes of the source of danger. Which will allow them extra time to get away. Skunks are not fast animals, so they rely on blinging their predators for escape purposes. Before a skunk sprays, it will try to scare off an animal by stomping its feet or making squealing or hissing noises. The spray is a last resort.
Habits and Behavior
Most skunks will be seen in the early morning or early evening and they will typically rest during the day and night. During the winter months, these animals can be seen at any time of day, especially after a long period of snow fall. The animals do not hibernate like many others, but they do sleep more. If they are not trapped by snow, they will come out to find food sources.
A skunk lives in a den in the ground and they can often be found taking over dens that have been evacuated by other animals. If is typical to see a skunk den along a stream. Skunks can be territorial, but when it comes to survival, they are known to share their dens with a groundhog or rabbit.
The lifespan of a skunk is not very long. These animals battle many diseases and are left to fight the elements with little to no protection.
- Wild skunks live about 5 years maximum
- Domestic skunks can live as long as 10 years
Skunks do not have along list of predators as most will stay away from the animal due to smell alone/ The most common predators include owls and large birds of prey. Since most birds cannot smell, they are not deterred, leaving the skunk with little defense.