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  • Salt Lake City Educational Article of the Month - What You Need to Know About Skunks

What You Need to Know About Skunks

What You Need to Know About Skunks

Skunk (Mustelaputorius) is a wild Utah animal, predatory mammal from weasel family, known for the fact that it defends itself by spraying secretions from glands under its tail that have very strong and unpleasant smell, when it is threatened or excited. Different types of skunks inhabit different continents, and they are spread throughout Europe, America, Australia and New Zealand, either as wild animals or as pets. Different species of skunks vary in size, weight, color, temper and feeding habits. The most common type of Salt Lake City skunk carries black or brown fur, with frequent white stripes. Skunk is usually up to 40 inches long and up to 95 inches tall. It weighs up to 8 pounds, but males are often up to three times larger than females. They have slender, elongated body with relatively short and very muscular legs. They are equipped with long claws on front paws to dig. Their fur is most often black or chestnut colored, with their belly yellow or white, and their face and back has white stripes. They can have either a thick ribbon across the back and tail or two thin strips or a series of white spots and stripes punctuated. Some skunks have stripes on their legs. Their sense of smell is highly developed.

Life span for skunks is naturally about 9 years.
Skunks use their sharp teeth during the fight. They never loosen the grip, and once they catch an enemy, hold it until it usually dies. Skunk feeds on mice, rats, amphibians, birds and bird eggs, rabbits, lizards, fish, and snails. Sometimes a skunk will also feed with herbs and fruit. Skunk can be very dangerous for domestic poultry. In search of food, the Salt Lake City skunk is capable to attack an animal even twice bigger the animal itself. What is particularly interesting about some types of skunks, is the way they hunt frogs. Some skunks save frogs as a food supply. They will bite the frog in a way that its spinal nerve is damaged, and it will remain alive but unable to move. When a Utah skunk feels threatened, it sends special warning signs by tapping feet or climbing on the front legs. If the danger is still present, it will eject a strong-smelling secretion from glands near the anal opening. When threatened or confronting a predator, a skunk will release snorting and growling noises. Even if it doesn’t succeed to ward of the danger, it is very skillful in running away from danger.

Skunk habitat
Skunks most often live in Utah fields and meadows, along the edges of forests, in swampy areas. During the winter, they sometimes approach human settlements for food. They will try to remain close to any sources of water. Skunks are very strongly territorial Salt Lake City animals. They live a lonely life. They are less active than the other weasels, and usually spend the day hiding in their shelter. They are active at dusk and at night. They are very skillful in swimming and diving. Most skunks live in holes, similar to rabbit holes. In fact, skunks will often keep a rabbit’s hole for themselves after they’ve successfully hunted a rabbit.

Skunks breed in the spring. Female carries the young for about two months and then takes care of them for three months. A female usually gives birth to 2 to 3 cubs. The cubs are born blind, deaf and covered with a layer of soft fur. Kittens open their eyes after about three weeks. When they reach adult size and are ready to mate, the kits become independent. This usually happens when they are about a year old. The mother takes care of her cubs and protects them splash at the slightest danger. Skunks often approach and inhabit human Salt Lake City households. Because of their aggressive nature, skunks are often treated as pests. Homeowners fight them with protecting their homes and farms, using repellents, trapping and often killing them. The danger skunks can bring is often serious, considering they are capable of killing domestic poultry and transmitting disease. For this reason, farm owners often set traps for skunks and poison them. However, skunks can also be domesticated and held as pets. They are capable to adapt to life near people. As pets, they are usually held in cages. They are not appropriate for households with children, because of their temper and aggressive nature, which can never be fully tamed. Different countries have regulated hunting, trapping, killing and domesticating Utah skunks with different laws and requirements. When held as pets, in most countries, special licenses and medical tests need to be provided as a proof that the animal is safe to be kept near people.

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