The striped skunk has a black body with a white stripe along each side of its body; the two stripes join into a broader white area at the nape. Its forehead has a narrow white stripe. About the size of a house cat, it weighs 2.5 to 14 pounds with a body length (excluding the tail) of 13 to 18 inches. The bushy tail is 7 to 10 inches long, and sometimes has a white tip. The skunk’s best known feature is its ability to squirt an extremely potent and disagreeable secretion at potential attackers.
In the early fall skunks search for cubby holes to spend the winter. Damaged building foundations and spaces underneath porches serve this purpose well. A strong odor of skunk essence during the nights of early fall often is the result of inadequate home maintenance and of allowing dogs to roam free at night.
Skunks forage at night or at dawn for a variety of foods including berries, grasses, nuts and other vegetable material, as well as worms, insects, grubs and the nestlings of birds, mice and cottontail rabbits. They also prey on woodchucks and other young animals in burrows. Skunks often leave holes in the ground where they forage for insects or tear apart ground nests of small animals.
Striped skunks mate in February and early March. Females give birth in May, often in woodchuck burrows, to an average litter of six.
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