skunks are found in Canada, the United States, and Mexico.
They are easy to recognize because of the white stripes that go from
their noses to their tails. The rest of their bodies are
black. Skunks are famous for their smell. If a skunk is
in danger, it will spray an awful smelling liquid called musk.
The skunk gives a warning before doing this. It will stamp its
front feet and growl. It's best to get away then! Skunks
can hit their targets from 12 feet away. The odor will stay on
the sprayed thing for days.
Skunks live in woods, grasslands, and
deserts. They make underground dens that they line with
leaves. Sometimes they use dens that have been left by other
animals. If skunks live near towns, they like to live under
buildings or somewhere that they can be dry and safe. When
they hibernate, they
plug up the opening of the den so that their heat stays in and some
of the cold stays out.
They are omnivorous.
They eat insects, mice, rats, birds, eggs, and even fruit.
They are from 13-18 inches long and weigh from 3-10 pounds.
Their size is about the same as a house cat. Skunks are nocturnal.
If they live near towns, skunks love to get into garbage cans for
dinner. They sleep during the day.
Striped skunks mate anytime between February and
March. The female is pregnant
for 2-3 months and gives birth to 2-10 babies. The babies are
born with a small amount of black and white hair. They follow
in a line behind their mothers and leave her when they are about
eight months old.
During the summer, the male skunk usually stays
by himself. The females travel with their babies until they
get old enough to go off by themselves. Females will hibernate
during the winter in the same den with other females. There is
usually only one male that hibernates with the group of females.
When fall comes, skunks fatten up a little for
hibernation. Sometimes the animals will move to colder
weather. Scientists agree that skunks go into torpor
[like bears] instead of true hibernation. The body temperature
and heart beats go down, but not as low as hibernation. Even
though some skunks seem to stay in a deeper hibernation for about
one hundred days, this changes depending on the skunk and where it
lives. Mostly, the skunk will go into torpor for shorter
times, wake up when it gets a little warmer, and even go
outside. They might eat something and then go back into
torpor. With torpor, skunks can wake up when there is a warmer
day in winter. If they were true hibernators, they would sleep
right through these single days because waking up takes longer for
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