The skunk is also known as Polecat. There are 11 known species of skunk and most of them live on the American continent. Skunks are able to transfer rabies, a lethal brain infection to humans and other mammals by biting, but this is not so common.
The skunk measures an average 40 – 70cm in height and weighs pretty much the same as a household cat. Skunks are black and white in color but there are some variants and they all have stripes. It has a bushy tail that is marked with black and white rings.
Skunks generally have poor vision and can barely see objects that are more than 3meters away. This predisposes them to high mortality on roads as they do not see approaching vehicles until too late. They however possess excellent senses of smell and hearing.
They are most popularly known for their defensive reaction of releasing a foul, strong smelling secretion from its rear end when threatened. The offensive smell of this secretion is effective in discouraging would-be attackers as it persists for days if sprayed on anything within a 10-foot distance. The spray can also cause irritation and temporary blindness. Its major predators are coyotes, bobcats, and owls
Skunks are omnivores and opportunistic feeders. Common animal foods include worms, rodents, and even small reptiles like lizards, salamanders, frogs, snakes. They often hunt insects and insect larvae, poultry, eggs and small mammals. They are also known to attack beehives to eat honeybees as their thick fur protects them from stings.
As for plants, they often feed on garden vegetables and fruits, berries, grasses, and roots. They often dig small holes in the soil looking for insect larvae.
In urban and suburban areas, skunks forage and eat from household garbage cans and leftover pet food. Less commonly, they are scavengers, feeding on the carcass of birds and rodents killed by cats or other animals.
The male skunk is called a buck, female – doe, and baby – kit. The birth of 2 to 10 kits usually takes place in May, 7 to 10 weeks after mating takes place. The female skunk would dig out a birth burrow to have her babies in. The kits are born blind and without any teeth, they are also unable to use their defensive spray at first. These features usually develop over a few weeks and the babies stay with their mother for about a year. The mother is protective of her babies and sprays at any perceived sign of danger
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