Skunks

Skunks have litters of 2-10 young between March and May. Gestation is 63 days long. Babies’ eyes open at 28-30 days and they wean at 7-8 weeks of age.

Skunk body temperature is 101-102 degrees.

Skunks are nocturnal (active at night) creatures that are related to the weasel, ferret, and badger. They are one of the gentlest and least aggressive creature in the woods. Their hearing is weak, they have poor vision and sense of taste and smell are mediocre. Skunks protect themselves from fights by persuading their aggressor to go away. They usually do this, first by stomping their feet repeatedly. If this does not scare off the threat, then they turn around and spray. Remember that skunks are more afraid of you than you are of them and will only attack when cornered.

Two glands hold the pungent musk that the skunk can fire with lightning speed, great accuracy, and incredible distances (up to 10 feet). They can fire five or six consecutive rounds, each dose only a fraction of a teaspoon. The musk is a clear amber, oily, sulfurous substance.

Skunks are not all bad around buildings on a farm. They are omnivorous and usually consume fruits, carrion, mice, and insects. Skunks are very useful in cleaning up road kill, in decreasing the mice population, and in scarfing down annoying bugs.

Not all skunks carry rabies, but the skunk family is very susceptible to rabies. They can carry the rabies virus for a long time before exhibiting symptoms. The mother can also pass the virus on to her young, so do not handle any skunk, regardless of age. Use caution with all animals.

Got sprayed? Some ideas to get rid of the skunk smell are tomato juice, Oxyfresh Pet Deodorizer/Shampoo, and Petastic Skunk Odor Deodorizer.

Due to the rabies risk, the WMC does not take skunks. If you have a skunk that needs medical attention, please call the Department of Natural Resources at 217-782-6302.

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