Striped Skunk

Mephitis mephitis
Striped Skunks
Misty and Stormy

At the EcoTarium

The EcoTarium is home to two female Striped Skunks. Stormy (black and white) and Misty (apricot and white) were born in April 2013 and arrived at the EcoTarium a couple of months later. They were bred in captivity, so they have been de-scented and do not spray.

About Striped Skunks

In the wild, skunks are black with a white stripe down their head and back, but different colors have been bred in captivity. Striped skunks are found across the United States. Other types of skunks can also be found in Mexico. They are nocturnal and have poor vision, but good hearing and smell. They spend their nights foraging and rest during the day. Their habitat is generally an open area, such as a grassland or farmland, but they also live around humans. They dig underground dens (or use one abandoned by a fox or woodchuck) to raise their young and stay warm during the winter. The dens often have multiple chambers and openings. 

Striped Skunks are opportunistic omnivores, and their diets change depending on the season and food availability. They will eat insects, grubs, fruit, mice and baby birds. They are also likely to eat from garbage cans or pet dishes in neighborhoods.

Skunks can spray up to 16 feet. The musk they spray will irritate the nose and eyes. Before a skunk sprays, he gives a series of warnings, including a backwards shuffle, stamping the feet, and growling, followed by raising the tail and positioning his rear towards the predator’s face. In the wild, a skunk’s lifespan is only 2-3 years. In captivity, skunks can live 6-12 years. In the wild, they can be prey for great horned owls, hawks, and eagles, as well as bobcats, foxes, and coyotes. They are also often hit by cars.