The Striped Skunk
Striped skunks do not use their spray on each other, even in the fiercest fight. The only predator that appears to be immune to the skunk's spray is the great horned owl, which hunts the striped skunk at night.
The striped skunk is a night time hunter, conspicuously colored to deter its enemies. Skunks live in small groups, often sharing a burrow with the species that dug it, such as a fox or a raccoon. Of all the animals that have warning coloration, the striped skunk’s easily recognized white stripe makes it one of the most successful at deterring its predators. Its marking serves as a warning to intruders that they will be sprayed with foul smelling fluid if they do not retreat.
Striped skunks spend the day in small groups, sleeping in dens that they dig themselves or borrow from other animal species. At dusk, the skunks emerge from their dens to forage for food. Skunks deter enemies by spraying a very offensive smelling fluid. It can cause temporary blindness, but its main purpose is to stop the intruder from breathing for a few seconds while the skunk escapes.
Striped skunks are meat eaters, feeding mainly on large insects, such as crickets and grasshoppers, and on small mammals. They also forage in the soil and among dead leaves, using their long front claws to dig up beetle grubs, earthworms, roots and fungi. Striped skunks also eat nuts, fallen fruit, and the eggs of ground nesting birds.
The breeding season for the striped skunk is February and March. Males begin to range widely at this time, often leaving their own territories in search of a mate. During mating season, the males are very excitable and spray large animals and humans at random. The female skunk carries her young for just over two months. Litter sizes range from three to ten, although the average number is five. The young skunks, called kits, are born blind and without fur. The female suckles the kits for six to eight weeks until they can hunt for themselves. The young stay with their mother, often sharing a den with several families until the next mating season.
Striped skunks are common throughout their range, and are hunted only by those with a license. Every year, however, many skunks are run over by cars, often because they stand their ground rather than running away.