Friday, November 24, 2017

A Holiday Skunk

Yesterday afternoon, as our family gathered for a Thanksgiving meal, a striped skunk was observed, ambling across our farm.  Festivities were placed on hold as everyone watched the solitary creature, not often seen on a sunny afternoon.

Indeed, striped skunks are primarily nocturnal, though they may be encountered at dawn or dusk.  Omnivorous, they feast on insects, small mammals, eggs, seeds and fruit.  During the colder months, they utilize abandoned dens or dig one for themselves; there they wait out periods of severe weather but often emerge to forage during warm interludes.  Rarely killed by fox or coyotes, skunks may fall prey to great-horned owls, hawks, golden eagles or, of course, automobiles.

Striped skunks breed in late winter or early spring.  During that time, the male may gather a small harem and defends his territory.  Litters generally range from four to eight pups and the newborns are weaned within two months; the family breaks up by late summer and the young disperse to establish territories of their own.  Striped skunks range across most of North America, from southern Canada to northern Mexico.