Monday, October 27, 2014

Smells like a skunk!

All of us had been driving down the road and got a sudden whiff of a dead skunk in the area. There are two varieties of skunks found in Floridian Nature. The most common is the familiar looking striped skunk.
Striped skunks are easily recognized by their characteristic colors and pattern. The fur is black with a white stripe that begins as a triangular shape on the top of the head, forks into two stripes that travel down the sides of the back, and usually merges again near the base of the tail. Another white stripe runs from the base of the snout between the eyes and ends on the forehead. Stripe width and length vary with each individual. Stripes sometimes occur on the tail, but more often the tail is composed of both black and white hairs intermixed.

Striped skunks are nocturnal, sleeping during the day in underground burrows and emerging around dusk to search for food. They use scent marking to communicate presence and reproductive state to other skunks. They also communicate visually, by raising their fur and changing posture. Skunks have a good sense of hearing, but their vision is poor. They are mostly silent, but do make a variety of sounds such as churring, hisses, and screams.

The Eastern spotted skunk is a small black and white mammal about 20 inches long, including the eight inch tail, weighing about two pounds. The Eastern spotted skunk is black with horizontal white stripes on neck and shoulders, and irregular vertical stripes and elongated spots on sides. This skunk also has white spots on top of it's head, between the eyes. The fur of the Eastern Spotted Skunk is the finest and silkiest of the skunk furs, and pelts were once considered valuable. The Eastern spotted skunk is the only skunk that can climb trees. And, when an enemy approaches, it can do a hand stand, point its anal glands towards the intruder, and spray away!  Faster and more agile than the larger skunks, the Eastern Spotted Skunk is more social than other skunks, and several individuals may share a den in winter. Highly carnivorous, the Eastern Spotted Skunk feeds mainly on small mammals, but also eats grubs and other insects, as well as corn, grapes, and mulberries. Except when rearing the young, this skunk does not occupy a particular territory, but rather moves about and dens wherever convenient.

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