ALL ABOUT SKUNKS

When the students first met Stella, they were very eager to share what they knew about skunks. They also had some questions. We found some books about skunks and set to work to find the answers. Here is the result of their research.

 

APPEARANCE

Skunks have a black body with white markings. Skunks have short wavy fur that keeps them warm and long straight fur that keeps them dry. There are 4 kinds of skunks: striped, hooded, spotted, and hog-nosed. Striped skunks are the size of a pet cat. Skunks can be 40-68 cm in length and weigh 0.5-3 kg. Hooded skunks have tails longer than their bodies. Skunks have curved claws for digging. Spotted skunks use their claws for climbing trees.

HABITAT

Skunks live in dens, hollow logs and fallen trees. They can be found in mountains, deserts, and woods. In winter, skunks make warm underground burrows. They line their burrows with grass and leaves. Their burrows have two to five doorways in case of danger. In cold weather, skunks may share their dens with other animals such as rabbits and racoons. Skunks sleep for most of the winter. They're found in North America, South America, and Central America.

DIET

Skunks hunt for food at night. They are nocturnal animals. They hunt at night and sleep in the daytime. They eat grasshoppers, beetles, crickets, and wasps. Birds eggs, worms, snails, grass, leaves, fruit and nuts are also part of their diet.

FAMILY LIFE

A baby skunk is called a kit. Kits are raised by their mother and are usually born in May. Mother skunks may have one to seven kits at a time. Kits weigh as much as ten marshmallows. Skunks may have one or two families a year. Kits drink milk from their mother. Until they are 6 weeks old, they stay in the den with their mother.

PROTECTION

Skunks spray a stinky oil to protect themselves and their kits from their enemies. The smelly oil is white or yellowish and is made by two small glands under its tail. Skunks aim at their target and can strike the target as far as 5m away. A skunk can spray up to eight times and then its glands need a couple of days to make more oil. The smell of the oil is very strong and it can sting the skin and eyes so most animals learn to leave skunks alone.

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