We at Wildlife Damage Control are amazed at the myths and misinformation surrounding skunks. We hope this page will help eliminate this misinformation.
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Skunks Mephitis mephitis nigra How to Control Skunk Damage
The common striped skunk, Mephitis mephitis nigra, has been recently reclassified by biologists as a member of the Mephitdae family (it used to belong to the weasel family called Mustelids, many thanks to Jim Burns for making this change known to us). Skunks consist of carnivores (meat eating animals) that possess well developed anal musk glands. Despite the fact that skunks are almost universally feared for their ability to make things smell, there is a great deal of popular myths concerning skunk spray.
Skunks mate during February and March. Like most animals the male does not stay and help with rearing the pups. Females will spray courting males that they do not want to mate with. Females will produce 3-5 young in May and June. After 3-4 weeks the young can spray. In urban areas, skunks prefer to live under sheds, porches and enclosed decks. They also like to reuse an old woodchuck den because it saves them a lot of digging. Most people only become aware of their presence when the young begin experimenting with their newly found spraying ability.
Skunks used to be highly valued for their luxuriant fur. Americans were quite enamored with the warmth and fashion of the skunks silky black fur. The problem was that people didnt know they were buying skunk fur because it was called by other more sexy names. The courts finally ruled that the customer had to know what he or she was buying. Once furriers had to tell the customers that this fine black coat was made of skunk fur, the market for skunks collapsed.
One of the most common myths is perpetuated by the cartoon character Peppy La Pew. Viewers of this humorous cartoon will note that everyone smells the skunk as he walks by. This point is further driven home by the streak of smell that emanates from his tail. Unfortunately, this cartoon is just plain wrong. Skunks dont like their noxious smell anymore than you do. Skunks only smell like skunks when they have sprayed. Even then they can walk away without smelling like their musk because they lift their tail out of harms way.
How to meet Mr. Skunk and Still Smell Good