Striped Skunk
Mephitis mephitis
Family Mustelidae

* Body black, with a narrow white stripe up the forehead and a broad white area on top of the head.
* Tail bushy, sometimes with a white stripe, 7-10" long.
* Well-developed scent glands; emitting a foul, skunk-like odor (that's the only way it can be described!).
* Head and body length: 13-18".

Natural History:
* Habitat: Semi-open areas; forests, brush, meadows, suburbs within two miles of water. Builds dens in ground burrows, under buildings, boulders, wood and rock piles.
* Range: All of the United States, and most of Canada.
* Behavior: Nocturnal, active year-round, and omnivorous. Feeds on mice, eggs, insects, grubs, berries, carrion, and garbage. Usually solitary. Mates February to March.
* Lifespan: 2-3 1/2 years.
* Native.

* Being sprayed by a skunk is undeniably unpleasant; it has been known to cause nausea. However, the yellowish, oily liquid sprayed when the skunk feels threatened can do no lasting or serious harm. Skunks can hit a target with the liquid from up to 15 feet away. The best thing to do when your cat or dog has ended up on the wrong side of a skunk is to wash it in tomato juice - for reasons unknown, this neutralizes and removes the odor.

* Skunks and other carrion feeders can contract rabies from feeding on the carrion of an infected animal. Because rabies is a life-threatening disease in humans, one should avoid contact with skunks and areas where skunks have been feeding, such as garbage cans. To reduce the risk of rabies, make sure that your garbage is not accessible to animals.

Approved by NR


Created by: Niki Zhou and Carla Holleran
Maintained by: Nick Rodenhouse
Created: June 25, 2004
Last Modified: August 7, 2004
Expries: June 1, 2005