Mammals of Pennsylvania and New
Skunks are located throughout the United States and Canada.
They are active during all seasons. They are hunted for their
skins. However, a hunter must have a license.
are best known for a bad-smelling fluid they shoot
from underneath their tails. They can fire this stinky
fluid 7 or 8 times at an animal that does not stay
away. If skunks fight among themselves, they never
spray each other. However, the only animal who does
not seem to mind the bad smell is the Great Horned
Owl. This owl hunts skunks at night. Skunks fear no
one, including people and cars. Because skunks do not
fear cars, you will find many of them killed on the
are small mammals. Skunks are one of the most easily
identified animals. They have mostly black fur. However,
skunks have one or two white stripes covering their
backs from head to tail.
the stripe looks like a white V. The male is usually
longer than one foot. The female is a bit smaller. They
are between 7 to 10 inches tall. They can weigh between
3 to 6 pounds.
mate during the winter months of February or March.
Baby skunks, called kits, take about
two months to develop. There are usually 4 to 5 kits
born per season. Kits are born blind and without fur.
They feed off their mother’s milk for about two
months. Then they stay with mother and begin hunting
food. Skunks often stay in families for one year. They
live about 7 years.
live in dens and burrows.
They often share their homes with other animals such
as foxes or raccoons. Skunks sleep during the day and
hunt at night. They can live in woodpiles, under houses,
or sheds. They also live in dens and burrows in the
can swim well, but they swim only to save their lives.
They prefer not to be in the water. They do not hibernate
during the winter season.
are mainly meat eaters, or carnivores.
Therefore, they hunt for large insects such as crickets
and grasshoppers. They will also feed on other small
mammals. Sometimes, they dig in the soil looking for
beetles, grubs, and earthworms. If skunks find bird
eggs on the ground, they will eat them.
hunt by smelling for their food. They also enjoy a
good meal of certain kinds of garbage from people’s
Sometimes, while they hunt, a poisonous snake can bite them.
They usually survive a snake bite. Skunks can survive up
to 10 times the amount of poison (venom)
it would take to kill an animal of the same size.
Randall Pellow, 2005