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Striped Skunks

The striped skunk is commonly found throughout the United Statesand it is present in the Laurel Lake area. This mammal belongs to the mustelid family which includes otters, minks, weasels, ferrets, and minks.

Striped skunks grow to a length of about 24 inches includinga 7 to 10 inch tail. Males are 15% larger and heavier than females.

Skunks are sluggish and can only move at a maximum speed of 10 miles per hour.They are poor climbers, but can swim. The striped skunk's senses are poor compared toother wild animals.

Skunks are noted for their scent glands located beneath the skin on eitherside of the rectum. These glandshave nozzle-like ducts which protrude through the anus.Skunks discharge their scent or muskthrough these nozzles.

Musk is an oily, creamy liquid which is yellowish in color. Its active ingredient is the sulphide mercaptan. The musk of the striped skunk stinks.A skunk can shoot musk about 12 feet. They discharge this musk when threatened or frightened.

Striped skunks are omnivorous.In summer, skunks feed on insects including grasshoppers, wasps, beetles,crickets, and worms. In winter, skunks eat wild grapes, cherries, and othervegetables.Skunks are chiefly nocturnal.

Skunks breed between February and March. Males fight one another duringthis time. A female skunk is capable of breeding after 2 years of age. After a 60day gestationperiod the female skunk gives birth to 2 to 10 young. These offspringweigh less than 1 ounce. Although lacking in fur, the appearance of where a stripe will appear isobvious. Skunks are born blind. They gain their sight shortly after birth.

Skunks do not hibernate,but remain dormant during thewinter. The great horned owl is a predatorof the striped skunk.