Skunks do not hibernate and are active all year long, but they do have a mating season that stretches from the beginning of February through the end of March. During this time, many people will notice an increase of odor in the area and will see more sightings of these mammals. When February comes, the male skunk will start looking for a female mate to breed with and will travel more than 6 miles during the season to find their mate. If the male finds a female and she is not interested, she will emit a scent to repel the male, which is why there is an increase in skunk odor during mating season.
The age and location of the skunk will also affect their mating habits. If there was a mild winter and there is little to no snow on the ground, the young males will emerge in the early part of February. However, harsh winters will postpone the mating season, with young females coming out I March. Females who were born the previous year may not be ready to mate until the end of the month, or even April.
The gestation period for a skunk is between 60 and 75 days and during that time, the mother still forages for food. Baby skunks are born in multiples and a litter can have as many as 15 babies. To determine when babies will be born, one must know when the mating cycle of the adults occurred.
- Any babies that were conceived in the beginning of February by older skunks will be born in the beginning of May.
- Babies that are conceived by young mothers in April will not be born until the end of June.
After the mating process has been completed, the male skunk has very little to do with protecting and feeding the young. Baby striped skunks are born pink and they have very faint traces of black and white. They are born blind and will not even open their eyes until they are around three weeks of age. As young skunks, the musk is produced as young as 8 days old, but they do not have the ability to spray until they are three weeks or older.
In 2 to 3 months, the babies will be seen with the mother and the mother will become more protective and more apt to spray anything they fear is a danger to the young. The young skunks will quickly learn how to find food and fend for themselves and will prepare for their own mating cycle the following year. Females are capable of bearing young the next Spring.
The average lifespan of a wild skunk is just 2 to 3 years, but in some cases, they can live as ling as 7 years if they have a good food supply and do not fall ill with any disease.