Do skunks shed their fur?
People are often curious about the habits of skunks. They are such an unusual and secretive animal. If you ask most people all they can tell you is that they are black with white stripes, and they smell bad. There is so much more to these furry fellows than you think. Here are just a few interesting facts. There four species of skunks that inhabit North America right now. All skunks live in the Americas, with the exception of the Asian stink badger. The four varieties in America are:
- Eastern spotted skunk (Spilogale putorius)
- Hooded skunk (Mephitis macroura)
- Hog-nosed skunk (Conepatus leuconotus)
- Striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis, most common)
Skunks can live form 2-4 years in the wild. Even longer in captivity. They are between 20"-30" long (including their tail), and weigh 6-10 lbs. All skunks have strong forefeet and long sharp claws for digging. Skunks shed their fur only twice a year. Their soft downy layer of fur shakes out in the springtime, and their longer thick coat drops out in the fall. The amount of fur a skunk sheds is considerably less than that of a cat or a dog.
Skunks are extremely adaptable and real opportunists.
They enjoy and extremely wide and varied diet including small mammals, larvae, worms, eggs, reptiles, fruit and plants, frogs and even fish. They are nocturnal foragers, meaning they eat mostly at night. Because they do not traverse more than 2 miles from their dens, skunks will most often build their homes within 2 miles of a reliable water source.
Skunks make their Dens in hollow trees or hollow logs, dried brush piles, other animal’s abandoned burrows, or underneath porches, buildings and other manmade structures. Skunks have been known to dig a burrow underground only if no other options are available.
Skunks are very solitary and only socialize during their mating season, April- June.
Now about that smell we have all heard of!
When a Skunk threatened can release a powerful and noxious smell from their anal glands. Skunks will usually only attack in this manner if cornered or when defending their young. The act of spraying is not a skunk’s first line defense. When threatened a skunk will grow, spit, puff it up, shake its tail, and stomp. If these methods do not work, the skunk will then lift its tail high and release its odorous spray.
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