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Striped Skunks On The Move

9-25-17 striped skunk IMG_1777Winter’s coming and in the Northeast, Striped Skunks are preparing for the cold months ahead. Before they usurp the abandoned quarters of a Muskrat or Red or Gray Fox (or bunk with a willing Opossum or Raccoon), they spend a great deal of time foraging and putting on life-sustaining fat. Even though a state of torpor slows their metabolism down during the coldest months, skunks must bulk up in the fall, as they lose up to 65 percent of their body weight over the winter. Thus, they meander far and wide looking for food this time of year. In addition, this year’s young are still dispersing. For these reasons, you may have encountered the smell of skunk or the sad sight of striped roadkills in your travels lately.

14 responses

  1. Bill On The Hill...

    I hope you were using the long lens Mary!
    You appear to be positioned on the correct end of the critter…
    Nice photograph…
    Bill Farr…

    September 25, 2017 at 8:14 am

    • Jo

      I seem to have heard that to spray, they lift their tails over their bodies & spray forward, towards what they are looking at. Therefore, one actually wants to be behind them, not in front of them, to avoid being sprayed. Is that correct, Mary?

      September 25, 2017 at 11:16 am

      • I know from personal experience that they will swivel around so that both their rear end and their head are facing you, no matter how fast you move! Getting “behind” them is near impossible!

        September 25, 2017 at 3:09 pm

  2. David Thomas-Train

    Sunday morning there was the unmistakable skunkaroma in several places along I-87 here in the Adirondacks. And one poor critter was squashed on the mid-air exit ramp over the Hudson. Probably trying to get out of the capital’s urban swamp of corruption!

    September 25, 2017 at 9:20 am

  3. jenna

    Is a state or torpor different from hibernation? If so, how?


    September 25, 2017 at 9:26 am

    • Hi Jenna,
      Here’s one definition: Torpor is a short-term reduction of body temperature on cool days. Hibernation is an extended form of torpor. Torpor is driven by ambient temperature and food availability; hibernation is associated with day length and hormone changes.

      September 26, 2017 at 10:59 am

  4. Kathryn

    Is there anything we can (or should) do to help? They have been tearing up our lawn on a nightly basis! Is there any other food that could be put out?

    September 25, 2017 at 10:36 am

    • Just be grateful that you are getting rid of lots of beetle and other larvae!

      September 25, 2017 at 3:08 pm

  5. Alice Pratt

    That’s a lot of weight to lose during hibernation 😹

    September 25, 2017 at 3:58 pm

  6. So glad I found your blog. Enjoying it and learning so much …

    September 26, 2017 at 9:40 am


    So cute!, and no wonder we are encountering a lot of skunk smells.

    Sent from my iPad


    September 30, 2017 at 10:34 am

  8. birdlady612

    We have 3 skunks that visit our yard nightly. We put peanuts and peanut butter out for them and watch them on our outdoor Nest Cam. Do they really bunk with possums or raccoons? Do they hibernate, or will we see them all winter? We have a couple young possums that seem to play with the skunks and the skunks eat side by side with the possums and raccoons. 🙋🐦

    October 14, 2017 at 6:20 pm

    • Once it gets really cold, skunks will disappear and seek shelter in burrows where they become dormant. Once temperatures rise, you will see them again. And yes, they do occasionally share quarters with opossums and raccoons!

      October 15, 2017 at 8:13 am

      • birdlady612

        Wow, that’s amazing that they share space. People are always amazed when I tell them that the raccoons and possums eat with the skunks. They are surprised that they don’t get sprayed. My young Possums actually sneak up behind the skunks and nip them, almost as to say “tag, you’re it” , however the skunks don’t want to play, they just jump, move over and continue eating. They have never sprayed the Possums for doing this. They are all amazing to watch. 🙋🐦

        October 15, 2017 at 9:19 am

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