The striped skunk is native to North America and the most commonly found species of skunk in Illinois. In fact, the Cree and Ojibwe word shee-gawk, which means skunk-land, is the root word for Chicago. Skunks are known for their distinct black and white striped fur and pungent spray.
Striped skunks typically breed one time per year, with mating season occurring between February and April. Kits are born in May or early June. Litter size is usually 2 to 10 kits, but occasionally litters are larger. Kits become independent after about 3 months. Skunks are nocturnal and active at night.
Striped skunks dig dens to use for nesting during the warmer months. They also occupy dens built by other animals, if available. They generally live in brushy, woodland areas but in northwestern Illinois, specifically, the skunk population actually prefers cultivated areas. They also use their dens for resting during the winter months. They do not hibernate. Instead, skunks live off their fat reserves and occasionally forage for food.
Striped Skunk Diet
Skunks are insectivores but the striped skunk eats other animals or vegetables as well. Since they are opportunistic animals, they’ll eat whatever is easiest to find. They usually eat beetles, caterpillars, grub, worms, and grasshoppers but will eat eggs, frogs, and mice during colder months. They also eat fruit and vegetables like apples, cherries, berries, and corn that have fallen to the ground.
Striped Skunks & Predators
The skunk has few natural predators due to its powerful musk spray. Wolves and coyotes will avoid them unless food is scarce. Because of this, it’s important to remove skunks from your property, as natural predators will unlikely resolve the issue. Skunks have a poor homing sense. Once they leave your property will usually not return. However, if you see the same skunks regularly, they may have built or found a den near your home and plan to stay.
If you discover skunks on your property call pest control immediately to have them safely and effectively removed.