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  • Chattanooga Educational Article of the Month - About skunks

About skunks

About skunks

I think everyone knows what a skunk looks like, basic black and white fur, short powerful legs with long claws. Those claws were actually designed for digging but also make pretty formidable weapons. Skunks average around 20 to 30 inches long and that includes the tail, they generally weigh around 10 pounds and according to literature in the wild they live from 2 to 4 years but in captivity they been known to live up to 10 years. One very surprising fact about Chattanooga skunks is that they make excellent pets, once you remove the secretion glands responsible for the trademark stench, they are said to be more trainable than cats and just as friendly.

Skunks are another animal that is very adaptable when it comes to where it lives, their main prerequisites seem to be water and food with dry shelter running third on their priority list. Skunks are very rarely travel more than 2 miles from their preferred water source. They seem to prefer to den in tree hollows or hollow logs. They will use animal burrows that have been abandoned and even occasionally they will dig their own burrow, but this seems to be a last resort.

Their preferred diet is insects and grubs, though they will eat birds eggs, small rodents, frogs, mushrooms, fruits and berries and snakes and lizards. Their diet tends to change as the seasons change as they are very opportunistic feeders. Snakes are definitely on the menu as Tennessee skunks are completely immune to all kinds of snake venom found in North America. If a skunk has a weakness in food is honey, they have been seen to travel up to a mile in all kinds of conditions to attack a beehive, they will also attack wasps nests to eat the young larvae.

Skunks are nocturnal but that doesn't mean you will never see one during daytime, if disturbed in their den they will come out in daylight, the most likely reason for this is that Chattanooga skunks have poor eyesight but have excellent smell and hearing senses. Also skunks do not actually hibernate during winter, they just tend to become very inactive, especially during the coldest months. I have also been known to form communal dens during the depths of winter but the rest of the year are solitary.

Skunks breed from late April usually to early June at the latest, so in reality, May he is Tennessee skunk breeding month. The females have litters of from 1 to 7 young.

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