Skunks

SkunkSkunks are mammals easily recognized by their black and white colored fur. They live in open, shrub, wooded and urban areas. Skunks prefer hunting at night for grubs, insects, small rodents, fruit, berries, unripened corn, mushrooms and other food items.

Two glands near their anus produce smelly substance that is released when animals are threatened. Before it sprays the victim, skunk will turn its back, lift its tail, start hissing and stumping with its feet. Skunk can spray its oily and smelly substance up to 10 feet distance.

Skunks use underground dens year-round for daytime resting, hiding, birthing and rearing young. Dens are located under wood and rock piles, buildings, porches, and concrete slabs—also in rock crevices, culverts, drainpipes, and in standing or fallen hollow trees. Skunks can dig their own dens, but more often use the deserted burrows of other animals, such as ground squirrels.

Striped skunks are one of the most abundant and recognizable mammals in North America. They can be found in Canada, throughout the United States, and into northern Mexico.

SkunkPhoto Credit: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Striped_Skunk_not_a_cat.jpg
 

Hooded skunks are similar in appearance to striped skunks, but have longer and softer fur, especially around the neck. They also have a longer tail.

Spotted skunks are the smallest members of the family. They are also more slender and have shorter fur. All skunks are good rodent hunters, but spotted skunks are especially good at capturing rats and mice.

Hog-nosed skunks are excellent diggers, they have long, specialized claws and impressive upper body strength. Skunks are mild-tempered and will defend themselves only when cornered or attacked. Even when other animals or people are near, skunks will ignore the intruders unless they are disturbed.

Skunks have few natural enemies; the Great Horned Owl is the main one. Other carnivores tend to avoid them unless they are desperate for food Skunks are beneficial to farmers, gardeners, and landowners because they feed on large numbers of agricultural and garden pests.