Skunks are notorious for a reason. Their horrific reek can be smelled from miles away. Anyone who’s ever spent much time driving down an American highway has almost certainly smelled the tell-tale scent of a skunk.
Though we all know what they smell like, many of us have never encountered a skunk face-to-face. Perhaps you’ve never been in the same room as a skunk other than Pepe le Pew, or maybe you’ve been unlucky enough to find one on your property. Whatever the case may be, this article will take care of all of your skunk related curiosity.
Skunk Facts: Answers to Your Most Common Questions About Skunks
Where do Skunks Live?
Unfortunately for pretty much everyone, skunks aren’t picky about choosing their homes. They can be found in forests, prairies, and even deserts. Though they prefer to live in areas without much human activity, some skunks can be found in farmland and even residential neighborhoods. They can be found almost everywhere in the United States in addition to southern Canada and Northern Mexico.
Like many animals, skunks like to nest in holes in the ground. In preference to digging their own burrows, they prefer to move into burrows deserted by other animals.
When do Skunks Have Babies?
A female skunk gives birth to her litter in late spring. A single skunk may give birth to as many as twelve baby skunks, known as kits. The babies are born blind and totally reliant on their mother for care. While the kits are nursing, the mother will keep them in the den. It takes about 2.5 months for the kits to emerge from their den and attain independence from their mother.
What do Skunks Eat?
Skunks are omnivores, which means their diet contains both meat and plants. However, their preference is to eat insects. They enjoy grasshoppers, crickets, and caterpillars. Only when they are not able to get enough of their preferred food do they begin branching out to other sources of nourishment. A hungry skunk may try eating mice, fruit, and even fish. The skunk is not a hunter at heart and is not able to catch most swift moving prey.
Why do Skunks Spray?
Spraying is the reason that most of us are familiar with skunks. When they don’t choose to spray, skunks are relatively harmless. You may have a skunk on your property and be totally unaware of it if they choose not to spray. But when they raise their tails, beware! Skunks mostly decide to spray when threatened. In the wild, it is their best defense against much larger predators like coyotes and foxes.
The skunk has almost no natural predators and is avoided by most predators. The only creatures that pose a significant risk to a a skunk are birds such as eagles, which can sometimes manage to carry the skunk away before it has time to activate its spray.
Luckily, skunks almost never spray without warning. They can target you from a strong dose of spray from several meters away, but they usually do not spray immediately after being startled. If you encounter a skunk that begins raising its tail and turns its back towards you, get away as quickly as possible. If you can’t before it sprays, make sure to cover your eyes, as the spray can cause temporary blindness.
What is Skunk Toxic Shock Syndrome?
Not only is skunk spray offensive to the senses, it can also pose a real danger to those who are in the direct line of fire. It is most deadly to pets. If your dog is sprayed by a skunk, in rare occasions, compounds from the skunk spray can destroy your pet’s red blood cells.
If you have a pet and know there are skunks in your area, it is important to be familiar with toxic shock syndrome symptoms. Toxic shock syndrome often begins with a pet feeling weak and appearing inactive. If your animal is sprayed by a skunk and begins vomiting or having diarrhea or seizures, you should get your furry friend to a veterinarian as quickly as possible. Fortunately, with proper treatment, almost all animals will make a full recovery. Skunk Toxic Shock Syndrome in humans is not something you should fear. However, skunk spray is still extremely dangerous and should be avoided at all costs.
The Bottom Line
With this information, you’ll be a little more knowledgable next time you encounter a skunk. Though smelling a skunk along the roadside shouldn’t be cause for alarm, having one on your property can cause real issues for you and your household. If you encounter a skunk in your home or stuck somewhere outside, don’t hesitate to give Critter Ridder a call.