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Striped skunks Mephitis mephitis have a range spanning most of North America. From east to west, they reach from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, covering most of the continental United States and southern regions of Canada.
Skunks are solitary animals, except when they're breeding and when mothers are caring for their young. Normally gentle and quiet, skunks make a variety of sounds, but none that are specific to their breeding season. Because they only interact in May and June, more vocalization may occur during this time.
Four skunk types inhabit North America -- striped skunks Mephitis mephitisspotted skunks Spilogale putorriushooded skunks Mephitis macroura and hog-nosed skunks Conepatus mesoleucus.
A skunk has long black fur with distinctive white markings, either striped or spotted. His length is 22 to 31 inches, including his long, bushy tail, and he weighs up to 12 pounds.
He has a small head, small ears and a stout body with short legs. Long, sharp claws on his front feet are deed for digging.
Two glands, one on each side of his anus, contain a strong musk that he can fire at will. Skunks are usually silent, but when they vocalize, a variety of sounds can be heard. Juveniles are often noisier than adults.
Skunks will hiss, squeal, screech and whine when angry, whimper if frightened, grumble when upset, chirp for attention, smack their lips in contentment and stomp loudly to frighten away enemies. Skunks have poor eyesight, and use their sense of smell when searching for food, making an audible snuffling sound.
Skunks often take over abandoned fox, groundhog or rabbit dens.
Up to six females may live together in a den, but males live alone. Breeding takes place in February and March. A single male may mate with several females.
Kits are born 60 to 75 days later, usually in April and May, staying with their mothers until they reach sexual maturity at approximately 8 months old. When the kits are born they're almost hairless, but faint traces of their black and white markings can be seen on their pink skin. Born blind and helpless, their eyes will open when they're about 3 weeks old.
At 1 month old, kits begin stomping their feet and scolding. They can produce musk at 8 days old, and are able to spray five or six weeks later. Karen Mihaylo has been a writer since She has been a professional dog groomer since and is certified in canine massage therapy.
Long, sharp claws are used for digging
Mihaylo holds an associate degree in human services from Delaware Technical and Community College. Long, Sharp Claws are Used for Digging A skunk has long black fur with distinctive white markings, either striped or spotted. They Make a Variety of Noises Skunks are usually silent, but when they vocalize, a variety of sounds can be heard.
Males Live Alone Skunks often take over abandoned fox, groundhog or rabbit dens. Kits Begin Scolding When the kits are born they're almost hairless, but faint traces of their black and white markings can be seen on their pink skin.
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