Outdoors Journal: Striped skunks are winter sleepers

  • Article by: JIM GILBERT
  • Updated: January 27, 2011 - 8:11 PM

The striped skunk is a carnivore and a member of the weasel family. It is a furry, glossy black animal, the size of a house cat, with two distinct white stripes.

It is active mainly at night and at dusk and may not retire until sunrise. During mid-winter it is more or less dormant, although true hibernation does not occur.

Adults become less sluggish by the last of February, and by the end of March both adults and last year's young move around more often. In autumn a skunk might wander a few miles to find a suitable wintering place, but ordinarily its home range is within a half-mile radius.

The skunk will spray only as a last resort. First it will try to gallop away, and if that fails, it will turn to face you while stomping its front feet. If this does not make you retreat, the skunk will turn and spray its scent. This can be sprayed up to about 15 feet, usually in an arc so as to be sure to hit its target.

Skunk fluid has been said to have a lasting harmful effect if sprayed into the eyes, but this is not true.


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