Facts about Skunks: What You Need to Know

There are many facts about skunks and almost as many myths. Ten species of skunks have been identified, all of which live in North and Central America. The most common are the striped skunk, spotted skunk, hooded skunk and the hog-nosed skunk. Of these, the most recognizable is the striped skunk, which can be found in all of North America, from the Southern part of Canada to the Northern portion of Mexico. Skunks average in size from 20 to 30 inches in length and weigh from 6 to 10 pounds. If you want more information about skunks, facts that may interest you are listed below.

Hide and skunk

Skunks can thrive in a variety of different environments. A skunk’s primary nesting site is within the abandoned burrows of other animals. They will also nest in hollow trees, stumps and, unfortunately, sometimes under porches and decks. If needed, they will burrow their own den underground and use tree branches, leaves and brush for concealment.

The smell of solitude

Skunks feed on a variety of sources such as insects, grubs, berries, mushrooms, eggs, frogs and even small rodents. They are most active at night, but will sometimes venture out in the daylight hours in search of food or to find a mate. Skunks do not hibernate, although they do stay within their dens during colder temperatures. Other than during mating season, they spend most of their time alone.

Stay away from the spray

These animals are typically not aggressive, but they will spray a very foul odor from their anal glands when they feel threatened. They give a warning before spraying by raising their tail, hissing and stomping their rear feet. If you happen upon one of these animals and are lucky enough to see the warning, make certain you get as far away from them as quickly as you can. A skunk can spray their victim as far as 10 feet away.

Damage beyond the stink

A little known fact about skunks is that they can cause serious damage to your home or your yard. They have powerful claws for digging and can make numerous, unsightly holes in your lawn while searching for food. Burrowing underneath porches and decks to form their den can create instability in the foundation. Skunks are also a health concern as they are known carriers of rabies.

Additional skunk facts

  • Skunks will attack beehives, but not for the honey – they eat the bees.

  • A male skunk is called a buck, the female a doe and the baby a kit.

  • Skunks have a very keen sense of smell and hearing, but poor eyesight.

  • Skunks can run up to 10 miles per hour.

  • The lifespan of a skunk in the wild is about three years, but they can survive 10 years in captivity.

Don’t get skunked trying to eradicate these animals on your own. Consult with a pest management professional for trapping and control assistance.