I never really gave skunks a lot of thought. I thought the Striped Skunk, with which we are all familiar, was all there was. I should have known better – nothing is simple in this world.

The Eastern Spotted Skunk is more dramatically different than any skunk you likely have ever seen. It is about the same size of a squirrel and  its body is longer and slenderer, like the weasel, of which family it is scientifically classified. These little skunks are found throughout Florida, except for in the Keys.   

Eastern Spotted Skunks have various white blotches plastered on their black fur, which really makes it look a lot different than the striped skunks. Each skunk is unique, as there are no two skunks with the exact same pattern. This skunk is omnivorous and will eat plants, nuts, berries, fruits, rodents, snakes, small lizards and bird eggs. They are nest predators of all ground-nesting birds. Unfortunately, the critically endangered Florida Grasshopper Sparrow is among the skunk’s favorite prey. 

A female Spotted Skunk will usually make a den in hollow trees or abandoned gopher tortoise burrows. Her litters will range between two to 10 kits per year. At four weeks, the young start to actively feed with their mother, and they will be weaned by eight weeks. By four months the kits will be young adults, and they leave the den. The lifespan of the spotted skunks usually lasts between one or two years.  

The Spotted Skunks are the only member of the skunk family that cannot climb. Their predators include humans, dogs, cats, bobcats, coyotes, foxes and owls. The population has not been well studied, but loss of habitat, insecticide and predators seem to indicate they are not as abundant as once thought. I hope to see one in the wild someday – I will let you know if I do.

 

God bless you all,

RHM