Mammal Tracks: Striped Skunk

Photo of Striped Skunk tracks

In New England, a wide range of habitats host Striped Skunks (Mephitis mephitis), from old fields and wetland edges, to marshes, beaches, and urban areas.* Skunks go mostly unseen by humans, since they're primarily active under cover of darkness, but the presence of their tracks in sand or snow reveals their passing.

In the coldest part of the year, Striped Skunks limit their outside time, preferring to hole up and conserve their energy, often in communal dens, but unlike Woodchucks and Black Bears, Striped Skunks are not true hibernators.

To learn more about Striped Skunks, visit Animal Diversity Web. For book suggestions, check out the Mammal Identification & Tracking section of my Book, DVD, & Audio Picks page.

Photo of Striped Skunk tracks

*I photographed these Striped Skunk tracks at Hills Beach in Biddeford on November 30, 2017.

One thought on “Mammal Tracks: Striped Skunk”

  1. Interesting photos!

    I’ve always found skunks to be gentle and smart. When I was growing up, one raised its offspring in our dirt-floor garage for several seasons. We learned to coexist quite peacefully by announcing our presence and moving slowly. None of us, including the dog (also gentle and smart), ever got sprayed.

    Years later I discovered a skunk in my yard with a jar stuck over its head, probably as a result of its investigating a neighbor’s tasty trash. The glass was partly broken, and I thought it best for a vet to be involved, so I walked as non-threateningly as I could up to the skunk, put a plastic trash barrel over it, slid a piece of plywood underneath, and sat in the back of a pick-up truck with it as we drove 40 miles to the MSPCA in Boston. (This was before the days of the Tufts Wildlife Center in Grafton, and it was also the night before July 4— couldn’t reach a vet any closer.) The skunk sprayed a little bit only when the vet stuck it with the anesthesia needle. Jar removed, skunk examined and pronounced unscathed, we returned home. All the way to Boston the skunk had been quiet inside the barrel. When it woke up on the way home, I heard a few rounds of systematic scratching to see if there was any way out, then it quieted down again. I placed the plywood, skunk, and barrel back in my yard. Everyone else kept their distance as I removed the barrel; the skunk just ambled calmly away.

    In my current yard, I occasionally see small divots in the moss where a skunk has looked for grubs, but the local population of skunks (and racoons) declined after an outbreak of rabies a few years ago, and is probably kept at a minimum on my property due to the presence of Great Horned Owls.

    Thanks again for your entertaining and informative posts.

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