Posted on 30. Sep, 2011 by in World of Wonder, WOW! Blog

Many mornings we will catch the scent of skunk and certainly we see them from time to time. I know most of us have the experience of driving down the road and smelling the strong musky odor maybe before we see the road-killed carcass of a native Striped Skunk. Once when we were living in a house on Lake Norman and had the windows open at night a skunk sprayed so close to the house that the scent filled the house, made sleep impossible and the lingering odor lasted a long time.

The Striped Skunk is about the size of a house cat. They have black fur with a white  stripe up the face and then white that divides into a V at the shoulders and goes back to the base of the tail. The tail may also have white. The width of the stripes on the back is quite variable. The skunk is maybe the most recognizable of our native mammals.

Where do they live and what do they eat? The most common Striped Skunk lives all over the Continental US and into southern Canada. The smaller Spotted Skunk is less widespread. They live in mixed woods and brush land and like to be near water. Seems like Davidson must provide a lot of what they like. Also, they will get under houses or sheds to sleep in the daytime. So, if you are having frequent visits from skunks make sure you don’t have open areas where they can hide. They are nocturnal and eat a lot of insects and rodents but they are omnivores so will eat a variety of plants. Skunks are often carriers of rabies.

Skunks should not be needlessly destroyed. They are highly beneficial to farmers, gardeners, and landowners because they feed on large numbers of agricultural and garden pests. They prey on field mice and rats, both of which may girdle trees or cause health problems. Occasionally they eat moles, which cause damage to lawns, or insects such as white grubs, cutworms, potato beetle grubs, and other species that damage lawns, crops, or hay.

To the Native Americans, skunks symbolize understanding how to “walk your talk”, self-respect, courage, will-power, self-confidence, caution, perseverance and determination.

In reality, skunks are shy quiet creatures. Their spray is their only defense. However, their only natural predator is the Great Horned Owl which apparently is not sensitive to the smell. They also frequently fall victim to automobiles. Skunks are not quick to use their spray. First they stamp their feet, then they turn their back toward you, then they raise their tail, then it may be too late!

There always seem to be a lot of skunks in Davidson. Recently one walked into a shop on Main St. on a Sunday afternoon. The picture in was not of the skunk but of the door propped open at Wildcat on Main with a fan blowing the scent out.

There are reports of albino skunks in the area. Would love to see a picture of one.

This article from NC State has a lot of good information about skunks.


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