Skunks are legendary for their powerful predator-deterrenta
hard-to-remove, horrible-smelling spray. A skunk's spray is an oily
liquid produced by glands under its large tail. To employ this scent
bomb, a skunk turns around and blasts its foe with a foul mist that
can travel as far as ten feet (three meters).
Average life span in the wild:
Head and body,
8 to 19 in
(20 to 48 cm);
5 to 15 in
(13 to 38 cm)
7 oz to 14 lbs (198 g to 6 kg)
Skunk spray causes no real damage to its victims, but it sure
makes them uncomfortable. It can linger for many days and defy attempts
to remove it. As a defensive technique, the spray is very effective.
Predators typically give skunks a wide berth unless little other
food is available.
There are many different kinds of skunks. They vary in size
(most are house cat-sized) and appear in a variety of striped, spotted,
and swirled patternsbut all are a vivid black-and-white that
makes them easily identifiable and may alert predators to their
Skunks usually nest in burrows constructed by other animals,
but they also live in hollow logs or even abandoned buildings. In
colder climates, some skunks may sleep in these nests for several
weeks of the chilliest season. Each female gives birth to between
two and ten young each year.
Skunks are opportunistic eaters with a varied diet. They are
nocturnal foragers who eat fruit and plants, insects, larvae, worms,
eggs, reptiles, small mammals, and even fish. Nearly all skunks
live in the Americas, except for the Asian stink badgers that have
recently been added to the skunk family.