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Most people will know a few basic facts about the skunk, but most of these may have been learned through the cartoon character 'Pepe Le Pew', so something a little more scientific can provide a more accurate picture of the animal. With a distinctive appearance that can often appear quite cute, when you understand some of the behaviors of the animal, this cuteness can quickly become a perspective on a real pest animal.
Similar in size to that of a cat or a dog, the most distinctive part of the appearance is the white stripe running down from the snout down the back and up a large bushy tail. The animal tends to have larger hind legs, with shorter front legs, and the tail tends to be held more vertically than other species, and it does stick up.
Depending on the species, the animals are usually between sixteen inches and thirty seven inches in length, and although smaller species can weigh as little as a pound, most will be heavier, with the largest weighing around eighteen pounds. Due to their hunting behavior, skunks tend to have long front claws to help with digging.
Skunks usually give birth in late spring after a gestation of around two months, with females having litters of between four and seven kits. They are blind and deaf at birth, but open their eyes after three weeks, and are eventually weaned after two months, but stay with the mother for the first year. Skunks can live up to seven years, but many are killed in the first year.
Skunks will usually live in burrows that they have dug below ground level, and particularly in colder areas these dens can be home to several skunks. In the wild they tend to prefer woodland areas where they can forage and hunt easily, but they are adaptable, and many have adapted to living in urban and suburban areas.
Skunks are true omnivores in that they eat a lot of fruit and vegetables, including berries, nuts, grass and leaves, while they also eat insects including bees, and can eat small rodents, birds, frogs and snakes. This adaptable digestive system has also led them to be successful at adapting to different habitats
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