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The Striped Skunk, Mephitis mephitis, is an omnivorous mammal of the skunk family Mephitidae. Found over most of the North American continent north of Mexicomarker, it is one of the best-known mammals in Canadamarker and the United Statesmarker.

The Striped Skunk has a black body with a white stripe along each side of its body; the two stripes join into a broader white area at the nape. Its forehead has a narrow white stripe. About the size of a house cat, it weighs 2.5 to 14 pounds (1.2–6.3 kg) (Note that the average weight is 6-8 pounds (2.73kg-3.64 kg)) with a body length (excluding the tail) of 13 to 18 inches (33–46 cm). The bushy tail is 7 to 10 inches long (18–25 cm), and sometimes has a white tip.

The presence of a Striped Skunk is often first made apparent by its odor. It has well-developed anal scent glands (characteristic of all skunks) that can emit a highly unpleasant odor when the skunk feels threatened by another animal. The striped skunk may do a handstand while warning others.

The skunk is crepuscular. Beginning its search for food at dawn and dusk, it feeds on mice, eggs, carrion, insects, grubs, and berries. At sunrise, it retires to its den, which may be in a ground burrow, or beneath a building, boulder, or rock pile. While the male dens by itself, several females may live together. The Striped Skunk does not hibernate but instead goes into a dormant or semi-active state.

In February or March, mating occurs, and by early May, after a 42- to 63-day gestation, a litter of about five or six young is born. The young are born blind, and follow their mother until late June or July.

The Striped Skunk is beneficial as a consumer of rodent and insect populations, rarely eating farmers' poultry. The species can be domesticated as a pet in the United Statesmarker (not all states), Canadamarker, Germanymarker, the Netherlandsmarker, Italymarker and the United Kingdommarker.

Gallery

Image:Striped skunk Pepe.jpgImage:Striped Skunk not a cat.jpgImage:Striped skunk Florida 2.jpg

See also



Citations



References

  1. Burt, Grossenheider, p. 65.


  • Burt, William H., and Grossenheider, Richard P. A Field Guide to the Mammals (of America North of Mexico). (The Petersen Field Guide Series.) Houghton Mifflin Company. ISBN 0-395-24084-0
  • Striped Skunk at Animal Diversity Web
  • Striped Skunk Tracks



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