Description & Range:
Eastern striped skunks are about the size of a house cat. Striped skunks
weigh up to 8 pounds. They have a small, white stripe on their forehead which
splits and expands down the sides of its back. They have a long, bushy tail made
up of white and black hairs.
Eastern striped skunks are relatively common throughout the United States and
can be found throughout Maryland.
Striped skunks like habitats with a variety of woods and open areas like
fields. They are considered habitat generalists and can be found in an
assortment of areas, especially in and around edges. Striped skunks do need to
live within at least 2 miles of a water source, though.
Striped skunks are omnivores, meaning that they eat both plant and animal
materials. Striped skunk diet includes insects (especially grubs), small
mammals, earthworms, snails, grains, nuts, fruits, reptiles, vegetation,
amphibians, birds, eggs, carrion and garbage.
Striped skunks mate in late-February through early March. Gestation typically
takes 62-68 days, after which an average of 6 helpless young are born. At 3
weeks old, the young skunks can open their eyes and crawl around. The skunks are
unable to venture out of the den and spray until they are 7 weeks old. Young
skunks leave their mother in the Fall.
Striped skunks are primarily nocturnal animals which lead solitary lives
aside from occasional communal denning. Striped skunks do not hibernate but will
spend multiple days sleeping during inclement winter weather.
When threatened, striped skunks will try to run away or will stomp their
front feet as a warning signal. However, if those tactics do not work, then the
skunk will stand on its front feet and spray a foul smelling liquid (butyl
mercaptan) out of special scent glands in its behind.
Striped skunks are managed as furbearers in Maryland.
Click here to learn more
information about management of the species.