- Common Name(s): Striped Skunk, Eastern Spotted Skunk, Skunk
- Order: Carnivora
- Family: Mephitidae
- Common Species: Mephitis mephitis-Striped Skunk, Spilogale putorius-Eastern Spotted
- Commonly Confused With: Rodents, Weasels
How to Identify?
The striped skunk has black fur over the majority of its lower body with a white stripe in the middle of its face. White fur runs along their back, often splitting in half towards the middle of the back to reveal a stripe/streak of black fur. The tail appears to be almost gray in color, as it is a mixture of black and white hairs. Eastern spotted skunks have black fur over their whole body with white spots, stripes, and other patterns. Their tail is mostly black, becoming white or gray at the very tip. The striped skunk typically weighs anywhere from 2-14 pounds but loses weight in the colder months. The eastern spotted skunk varies in weight from 0.5-4.25 pounds depending on gender and time of year. Both species of skunk have a triangular shaped head and poor vision.
Where do they live?
Skunks live outdoors in forests, wooded areas, fields, grassy areas, farmland, and even residential neighborhoods.
What do they eat?
These animals are fond of insects, other invertebrates (animals lacking a backbone), and small vertebrates (voles, lizards, ground birds, etc.).
What do they do?
Skunks become a pest when they live in close proximity to people. They can nest under storage sheds or decks, mess up gardens by digging for grubs or insects, blast pets or humans with an odorous spray when threatened or approached, and they can carry numerous canine and human diseases, including rabies.
A skunk’s spray is created and stored in the animal’s anal glands. However, this is not the reason the spray has such an awful smell. The smell comes from sulfur [attached to thiols (organic compounds)] that make up the composition of the spray. It would be similar to blasting yourself with the smell of pure rotten eggs.
- University of Minnesota Duluth. (2017, August 09). Spotted Skunk (Spilogale putorius). Retrieved November 30, 2018, from https://www.nrri.umn.edu/carnivores-minnesota/species/spottedskunk
- Kiiskila, J. (2014). Striped Skunk-Mephitis mephitis, Animal Diversity Web, University of Michigan (J. Bump & L. S. Martina, Eds.). Retrieved November 30, 2018, from http://www.biokids.umich.edu/critters/Mephitis_mephitis/
Author: G. Wyatt West– B.S.E.S University of Georgia 2017; Board Certified Entomologist
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