Skunks are notorious for their pungent smell that comes from the oil they spray when they feel threatened. You may be smelling that odor more than usual in the coming months because skunk mating season is almost here.
Skunks do not hibernate like many other animals during the winter, but they are less active than usual. They generally stay in their dens, which can be beneath the ground; under buildings, porches, brush, or lumber piles; or in the abandoned burrows of other animals. Since they are nocturnal, they venture out at night in search of food.
Males begin looking for females to breed with in February. They usually travel up to a mile or two in search of a mate, although they may travel as far as five miles. During a mild winter, males will seek out females early in February. If the weather is harsher, they will wait until closer to March.
When a litter of kits is born also depends on when the mother was born. Yearling females who were born in the past year will not be ready to mate in February and will wait until March or April. Females who do not want to mate will spray males that approach them.
A litter of skunks can contain anywhere from one to 15 kits. The gestation period lasts from 60 to 75 days. Kits conceived in February will be born by early May, while those conceived in April will be born in late June.
Females are responsible for raising kits in their dens. Males have little to do with protecting, feeding, and caring for their young.
Skunks are generally not aggressive, but mothers may spray if they believe their kits are in danger. A skunk will usually give a warning first by stamping its front feet, raising its tail, hissing, charging, or twisting its hind end in the direction of the threat.
If you see a mother skunk and her babies, it is best to avoid them so that you will not get sprayed. If you are concerned about skunks on your property, contact Anderson Wildlife Control to discuss our safe and humane skunk removal methods.