Skunks have bold white stripes down their backs and most are about the size of a house cat. They have fairly small heads, short legs and bushy tails. They use their sharp claws for digging.
Although Skunks usually give some warning signs such as stomping, hissing or charging before they spray, they discharge a foul-smelling fluid from glands located at the base of their tail when they feel threatened. Their spray can reach as far as 3 metres and can be aimed pretty accurately!
These nocturnal mammals are easiest to find in the summer months. They inhabit farmlands, grasslands and forests, making use of abandoned woodchuck or fox dens and occasionally creating their own from scratch. Urban-dwelling skunks often make homes under porches or in sheds, finding small areas for permanent homes.
While skunks aren’t true hibernators, they are fairly inactive during cold winter months. While they are usually independent, they share dens to stay warm, cuddling up just like people do when it’s cold!
Skunks munch on all sorts of things! They are omnivores and enjoy eating insects and small animals like mice and ground squirrels. Some of they’re favourite meals are grasshoppers, crickets and insect larvae. Sounds pretty yucky to us, but makes for a delicious skunk lunch!
Baby skunks, or kits, are usually born in May in litters of 4 to 6 and sometimes more. By two months old, their mother starts to wean them and takes them outside the den to hunt and scavenge for food on their own. Most of them will return to their mother’s den for their first winter.
AIWC cares for A LOT of skunks! By early October 2016, 83 striped skunks had been admitted, and most of them were kits. That was an increase of 176% since 2014!
“Scared Skunk” is a children’s book created for AIWC by Michelle and Denver Suttie and was launched in October 2016.The kindergarten to grade 3 level book helps kids grow their love and appreciation of Alberta’s wildlife! It can be purchased online or at:
* Wildbird General Store in Edmonton
* Purearth Organics in Red Deer
* Deja Brew in Cochrane
* Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary in Cochrane
*The Wild Bird Store in Calgary
100% of proceeds are donated to AIWC!
Every year, most of us set goals or make silent pacts to ourselves that this will be the year we make some changes! Personal improvements aside, volunteering with or donating to AWIC is one way to make a meaningful, lasting change that helps wildlife right here in your province. Purchase Scared Skunk for a little one, or get involved with AWIC to start off the year with a giving heart.
By Nina Grossman, AIWC Volunteer