The stiped skunk, AKA “stinky weasel” is a nocturnal animal that is a member of the weasel family. It is the most common skunk seen or smelled in the Cincinnati area. The skunk is about the size of a house cat with a small head and short legs and weigh 3-10 lbs. The skunk has long glossy black fur with a thin white stripe up the center of the face that extends over the head to the shoulders and continues down the back to the tail. The tail is mostly black, but usually has a white tip. Many variations of color and striping have been documented, some almost black, some almost white, some with one stripe and some with more than one stripe. Males and females are colored alike, however, the male skunk is slightly larger in size than the female skunk. The skunk has long straight claws and slightly webbed toes that are perfectly designed for digging. The skunk is not an aggressive animal and will try to retreat from larger animals. If threatened, the skunk growls or hisses, then stomps his front feet rapidly and raises its tail high in the air in an attempt to show anger. After repeated warning signals, the skunk humps its back and with the tail raised discharges a thick yellow oily fluid from glands near the base of the tail. Close range spray from a skunk will cause eyes to water as well as nausea. Skunks seem to be aware of their own odor and refrain from spraying themselves. The skunk has very little fear of humans, therefore, will den under porches, patio and decks, sheds and other outbuildings
Striped skunks are highly adaptable and occupy a wide variety of habitats in the Cincinnati area. They generally live in abandoned groundhog or fox dens, but occasionally excavate their own den. Skunks also make dens in hollowed out trees, logs, brush piles, underneath porches and other structures. Skunks prefer a dry den. Skunks will gather leaves for bedding and to plug the openings of the den to keep cold weather out. The skunk den has very little skunk odor around or inside them. The skunks normal home range is ½ – 2 miles, however, the male skunk may travel 4 – 8 miles each night during mating season. Besides the automobile, the skunk is preyed upon by bobcats or birds of prey such as the great horned owl or hawks. Birds of prey have a great sense of sight and very little sense of smell are unaffected by the scent of the skunk.
Skunks are omnivorous. They eat a variety of foods. They eat insects, shrews, mice, chipmunks, small rabbits, bird eggs and various types of plants and berries. During summer, they consume mainly insects. Skunks are very fond of grasshoppers, crickets, earthworms and grubs. During early fall, skunks are known to destroy lawns as they forage for grubs. The may spend several hours grubbing in your lawn, tearing up your grass as they dig for one of their favorite treats; the white grub. In the winter, skunks generally eat equal parts of animal and plant foods.
Adult skunks begin breeding from late February to March. The gestation period is 60 – 65 days and the babies are usually born in May. The litter size varies from 2 -10, with an average of 6 young per litter. The female skunk cares solely for the young. Baby skunks will begin opening their eyes by the 3rd week and by week 7 mother skunk is taking them out to search for food. They are completely weened at about 2 months. The young skunks remain with the mother until fall when they leave to be on their own, however, they may return to her den for the winter months.
Skunks are the primary carrier of rabies. Avoid overly aggressive skunks that approach without hesitation. Any skunk showing abnormal behavior such as daytime activity may be rabid and should be treated with caution. Disease can be spread through common feeding sites such as pet dishes. Skunks are also susceptible to distemper and feline leukemia. Rabid skunks should be reported immediately to your local health department.
The only known effective control method for skunks is to trap and remove them. Take outdoor pet bowls inside after dark. Skunks are known to travel along foundations, walls and fence lines. Install window well covers to avoid unwanted skunk encounters. Prevention services around porches, patios, decks and sheds are available. As the ASAP Critter People say…If you want to get rid of your critter problem…you have to get rid of the problem critter. Our professionally trained technicians will evaluate your critter issue and determine the best method of removal to safely and humanely remove your problem critter. For prompt, professional, and courteous service, call the family owned and operated ASAP Critter People at 513-941-0258 today! THE LEADER OF THE PACK!