Pests come in all shapes, sizes and appearances. Where some are undeniably grotesque, others can be perceived as cute to others. Generally, pests are known to pester people, either by causing damage to landscape or structure, or by being a health risk, by triggering allergies or asthma, or simply due to venom or poison. With the many pests in Central Kentucky, we at All-Rite Pest Control would like to discuss striped skunks.
How Far Can Skunks Spray?
By smell, sight, and reputation are known to belong to skunks. Although skunk numbers are far greater now, pioneers found the striped skunk when they came to Kentucky. Where there are farms with fencerows, forest edges and old fields, skunks are most abundant in rural Kentucky. These pests are also found in urban areas. When threatened, skunks are known for their ability to spray musk and spray with great accuracy up to 15 feet.
What Do Striped Skunks Look Like?
With a large deep body, small head, and short legs, the striped skunk is about the size of a house cat. Having a broad patch of white on its head and shoulders, the hair is long and black. From the shoulder area may extend part way or all of the way to the base of the bushy tail, two white lines forming a “V.” Though occasionally albino in color, their variations include white, cream, black, and brown. With males being slightly larger in size, both females and males are colored alike. Featuring the forefeet having long, curved claws designed for digging, each foot has five slightly webbed toes. With straighter claws, the rear feet have shorter.
Where Do Striped Skunks Live?
Occupying a wide variety of habitats in Kentucky, striped skunks are highly adaptable from rural areas to the suburbs. Accounting for their numbers growing stronger as civilization and humans encroached is their high adaptability. With their favorite foods including insects, fish, small mammals, crustaceans, grasses, leaves, buds, fruits, grains, nuts, and carrion, striped racoons are omnivorous. Skunks store quantities of body fat in the fall as, although they are not true hibernators. However, they might remain for several weeks or a month at a time when the weather gets cold, they will retreat to protective dens. Only seldomly do they wander around during the daytime since skunks are primarily nocturnal animals. They will occupy dens that have been used previously by groundhogs or foxes or dens they have dug themselves. Beneath logs in the woods, open fields, on hillsides, or under buildings are common places they have dens.
How Long Do Skunks Live?
In late February and continuing through March is the mating season in Kentucky. Striped skunks usually mate several times during this period and females are in heat for four to five days. Moving from den to den mating with females, males tend to be a bit promiscuous. Born pink-skinned and blind, the litters tend to be from 2 to 10 young. By the second week they are furred and by the third week their eyes have opened. With their mother on nightly hunting forays, by the sixth week they are weaned and will be out. When the young will go off on their own, this family will stay together until the next spring. Skunks have fairly short lives and often live only around three years in the wild but usually live around seven.
Skunks cause many problems such as when they dig under foundations and make a home under houses, porches and other buildings. They also damage lawns, gardens and golf courses looking for insect larvae or roots. Striped skunks also tend to disturb garbage cans and trash areas as well as damage beehives as they feed on adult and larval bees.