Field Guide/Mammals/Eastern Spotted Skunk

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Spilogale putorius (Eastern Spotted Skunk)
Family: Mustelidae
Size: : Total length – 10 to 27 inches (250 to 688 mm); Weight – 1 to 4 pounds (0.5 to 1.8 kg)[1]
Description: Bushy tail, black and white pelage, and pungent odor. The eastern spotted skunk has a complex pattern of white spots or broken stripes and generally has a white-tipped tail. [2]
Similar Species: Spotted skunks are smaller than Striped skunks and more weasel-like in appearance. [3]

Range: Throughout the eastern U.S., Canada, and Mexico. It is threatened in MN, 6 have been documented in the past 20 years in Minnesota.
Habitat: Eastern spotted skunks are generally found in open lands with sufficient cover, such as fencerows, shelterbelts, thickets, brush, and riparian woodlands. In agricultural areas they use buildings, corncribs, trash piles, rock piles, and haystacks for cover and den sites. [1]
Diet: They are generally insectivorous, but also opportunistic feeders and will eat almost anything they can find, including carrion, birds, eggs, small mammals, lizards, snakes, frogs, fruits, corn, and garbage. [2]
Activity: The Spotted Skunk usually sprays as a last resort, if stomping with its front paws or doing a handstand is not sufficient to warn off an intruder. Spotted Skunks are good climbers, able to scurry up and down trees like squirrels. They sometimes dig burrows to use for denning. [3]

Reproduction: Spotted skunks breed in late winter or early spring and may delay implantation for up to two weeks. Gestation lasts 45 to 60 days. One litter per year generally produces one to six young. Young are born from April through July and are weaned by about eight weeks of age; May and June are the peak breeding months for this species. [1]
Lifespan: 1-2 years in the wild/6 years in captivity [2]

Notes: Both habitat fragmentation and destruction and public persecution of skunks are the most common challenges to spotted skunk populations. The eastern spotted skunk are also known as a Civet-cat, Little Spotted Skunk, Hydrophoby Cat, Little Pole-cat, Four-striped Cat. [3]
Eastern Spotted Skunk

  1. a b c Species profile: Minnesota DNR, http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/rsg/profile.html?action=elementDetail&selectedElement=AMAJF05010, retrieved Spetember 23, 2012 
  2. a b c Spotted Skunk, Wildlife Science Center., http://www.wildlifesciencecenter.org/spotted-skunk/, retrieved Spetember 23, 2012 
  3. a b c North American Mammals: Spilogaleputorius, http://www.mnh.si.edu/mna/image_info.cfm?species_id=358, retrieved Spetember 23, 2012