Ten Questions: Skunks

Who hasn't been taking a nice drive when all of a sudden a horrible smell permeates everything? Even if you never smelled that smell before you automatically think., " SKUNK!" If you are close enough to the point of the actual spray it will make you choke and your eyes water. We once rescued a pet skunk that had been abandoned. Before we gave it a good home, we all had a chance to hold it. How very soft!

01. Not all skunks are black with white stripes.
Some of these beautiful creatures are brown with white stripes, gray with white stripes, or solid colors like white or black.

02. Skunks vary in size.
Skunks can be as small as a squirrel all the way to the size of a lap dog.

03. Skunks are crepuscular.
This means they are most active at twilight. They are also seen occasionally during the day or later at night but twilight is the preferred time for foraging and hunting for food.

04. What do skunks eat?
Skunks eat mostly insects. They do also eat wild apples, grubs, mice, and bird eggs.

05. Skunks' dens do not smell "skunky".
Skunks use their spray as a defense mechanism. It is not necessary when they are at home.

06. Skunks live in dens.
Burrows in the ground are favored. However skunks will take up residence under buildings if that is what is available. They have been known to share the burrows made by other animals such as foxes. Of course they are in the burrows at different times of the year.

07. Like all mammals, skunks can become rabid.
Rabies is transmitted through the saliva of an animal already infected with the disease. It is one of the reasons you should never approach any animal you are not familiar with. There is not necessarily any outward sign of rabies, so all wild animals should remain at a distance.

08. Skunks become inactive during the winter.
Skunks do not hibernate. They simply remain in their dens. Sometimes there will be several skunks denning together for warmth.

09. Skunks usually mate in early spring.
Skunks are polygamous. Successful males will mate with several females. Males take no part in raising the kits; in fact, they might kill them. A litter size is usually from four to seven kits. The kits stay with the mother for about one year when they become ready to mate.

10. How to get rid of the smell.
On pets: Liberal amounts of vinegar or tomato juice will make the smell tolerable. Time will eliminate the odor.
On clothing: Combine one quart of hydrogen peroxide with 1/4 cup of baking soda. Add one teaspoon of liquid laundry soap or dishwashing soap. (I know of one veterinarian who says this is safe to use on pets, but check with your own vet before using it.)
On people: For the skin, use carbolic soap and water. For stinging eyes, flush liberally with cold water.
On other non-living things: For things like patio furniture, etc. Use chlorine bleach, ammonia, or commercial products containing neutroleum alpha.


  1. I let my dog out of the tent last year at 3am and made kissy sounds to bring her back only to find this attracts skunks as well. I literally had to push it out of my tent when it came around, and it left me a nice present. Tried to get the smell out of my tent, but had to replace it.

  2. Oh, my! I was in the parking lot of a superstore one night and ended up following a particularly well-fed skunk for a ways. He acted like he owned the place. Luckily, I have never been the recipient of a spray. I am sad to hear of your experience but it will be a good tale to tell your grandchildren.

  3. We don't have skunks over here, so when a smell happens during driving I tend to blame Sadie the German Shepherd.Well isn't that what dogs are for. :-)

  4. Poor Sadie. Poor John. I feel sad that you have never had the "pleasure" of sitting at home and suddenly smelling skunk. It may have sprayed a long distance from you but you get the smell anyway. And sometimes it can last for hours.

  5. We have striped skunks here, almost like the one in the photo, they are about the size of a domestic cat.

    We have a couple of skunks that we see once in awhile in the backyard and sometimes they come to our patio. They never bother anything and don't stay long. It is interesting to see them.

  6. They are beautiful animals. Their coats are so sleek and shiny. Thank you for sharing.

  7. Re: Out on the Prairie's comment, I was told years ago by a wildlife biologist that the kissy sound is like the sound of a wounded rabbit, I believe, so anything that is a predator may like that sound. Anyhow, that's what I heard. =)

    Super interesting post and inspired me to look up rabies. Wow. I thought only carnivores could get & transmit it. Nope. ANY mammal, pretty much. GOOD to know.

    p.s. love the skunk!

  8. I am so happy. I inspired you to dig a little deeper and gain some knowledge. You also shared some of your knowledge with us. Thank you so much.


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