Understanding Skunk Behavior and How to Use It to Your Advantage

Striped Skunk - Can Cause Damage to Your Lawn

Striped Skunk – Can Cause Damage to Your Lawn

A skunk is covered in thick, black-and-white patterned fur. It has a bushy tail and wobbles around. The adult body is between 29 to 36 inches long from head to tail, females being slightly smaller than the males. These creatures live in fields and woodlands as well as under the porches and sheds of houses in urban areas. Skunks usually live in burrows dug by foxes or woodchucks. Any burrow that the skunk digs using its strong front claws is six to twenty feet long and three to four feet deep; it ends in a round, grass-lined chamber. Skunks do not live for more than 3 years in the wild because of their poor eyesight.

Mating Behavior of Skunks

A male skunk mates with multiple female skunks in its lifetime. The breeding season lasts from February to March. After mating, the male separates from the female. Following a gestation period of 62 to 68 days, she gives birth to between four and eight young skunks. These young ones are blind, deaf and hairless at birth and completely rely on the mother for the first six weeks; after that, they are able to go out with her in search of food. At one year of age, they separate from the mother skunk as they are old enough to mate and survive independently.

Feeding Habits

Skunks have a vast diet that changes from one season to the next. They feed on grass, roots, leaves, berries and nuts as well as insects, earthworms, lizards, frogs, snakes, bees, birds, eggs, moles and small rodents. They will even eat garbage and pet food. You will find a skunk digging holes in your lawn to find worms and grubs to eat. They sleep during the day and venture out of the burrow in search of food only after dark, not going more than a couple of miles away.

Seasonal Behavior

In the summer, skunks are actively seen around the garden after dusk or before dawn. They do not go into complete hibernation in the winter, but when it is extremely cold, they may live inside their burrow in a dormant state of inactive feeding for continued periods. In general, adult skunks are solitary creatures and do not share burrows; the only exceptions are for mating or finding warmth in the extreme cold.

Predators and Defensive Behavior

Since a skunk is very sensitive to smells and sounds, it can easily detect the presence of predators like dogs, great horned owls, foxes, wolves and badgers. The skunk prefers to quietly get away from the source of danger but if chased or trapped, it will give a warning signal to the predator by turning and arching its back, raising its tail very high, stomping its front feet and producing a hissing noise. This behavior is followed by a spray of yellowish, oily fluid from its anal scent glands in self-defense. This spray has a distinctively offensive odor, can cover distances of up to 15 feet and can be discharged five times in a row. The skunk avoids spraying when fighting with other skunks; it uses its teeth and claws instead.

Using Natural Skunk Behavior as Repellent

The skunk can cause extensive damage to lawns and vegetable patches. They can be easily eliminated from the garden or yard by taking advantage of their deep-rooted fear of their enemy, the fox. Shake-Away Small Critter granules containing the scent of the fox’s urine can be spread around the garden to trick skunks into believing there is a fox nearby. The Shake-Away skunk repellent thus works effectively in repelling these critters from the yard and giving gardeners peace of mind.

http://www.critter-repellent.com/skunk/skunk-repellent.php

http://www.massaudubon.org/Nature_Connection/wildlife/index.php?subject=Mammals&id=2

 

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