Skunk babies might look like cute little things, but make no mistake, they’ll soon be burrowing holes all over your garden and lawn. They’ll be spraying, too.
If you’ve discovered a litter of pups, you’re no doubt worried about getting them off your property. Before getting ahead of yourself, here’s what you need to know about skunk babies.
It doesn’t matter what type of skunk it is. Striped, spotted, and hooded skunks all have similar mating seasons. Skunks breed from February to March, and you’re often more likely to smell them during this time as males attempt to court prospective females. When females aren’t in the mood and want to reject said suitors, females generate an aroma to repel them and let them know they just aren’t interested.
Like most animals, the males often mate with several females. Once a female and male mate, the female leaves the winter den to find her own separate maternal den, gathering grass and plant material along the way for bedding. The mother raises her skunk babies in the den, becoming aggressive if she feels her babies are in danger and spraying anyone who looks to be a threat.
Female skunks have a 60-day gestation period, and they’ll give birth in April and May to litters of four to seven pups. Older females come into estrus earlier in the season, hence the earlier pregnancy date, and thus have pups earlier in the spring. These females also tend to have larger litters than younger females. Females can also breed in the second summer, producing a new round of pups later in the year.
Skunk babies learn how to spray within the first few weeks of birth, meaning they’re born ready with this pungent weapon. While their stench isn’t as pungent as full adults, they can still spray, and at this age, it’s often without warning.
Born with very little hair and soft pink skin, baby skunks soon gain their distinct black and white striped or spotted coats. Both deaf and blind at birth, these little kits have their eyes shut for almost three weeks before growing into miniature versions of their adult selves, with short legs and stocky bodies.
Their mothers teach them everything. For approximately six weeks she nurses them in the den before taking them on outdoor trips. From finding grubs and fruits and vegetables to learning how to use their claws to dig in the soil, the mother skunk teaches her babies how to survive. It won’t be long before the babies are burrowing into gardens like their adult selves.
By the fall, the family groups break up, with kits moving to new territories that range anywhere from six to ten kilometres from home.
When It’s Time to Let Them Go
Like any baby animal, eviction time is worse when the young are fully reliant on their mothers. The best time to do this is when babies are less vulnerable and more independent. Separating them now is a dangerous concern for mother skunks, and it risks leaving little skunks orphaned with a low chance of survival.
Skunk removal is a definite priority, so if you really want to get them off your property now, wildlife removal services can help. They have foolproof methods to evict wildlife and ensure mother and babies stay together. You can be sure humane wildlife services will minimize the amount of harm and stress the skunks are bound to feel.
Skunk babies want to survive just like every other animal. It’s only fair to give them that chance.