Body Length: 15-19 inches
Tail Length: 7-10 inches
Description: White Stripe on Face, White Neck Patch, White V on the Back, Bushy Tail With White and Black. The Main Fur Color is Black.
Found in both Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks, as well as right here at Rising K Ranch and throughout the entire state of Utah,the Striped Skunk is both larger and more common than the Spotted Skunk. His range extends throughout the continental US, most of Canada, and northern Mexico. Like all skunks, the Striped Skunk is especially known for his ability to emit a powerfully odiferous, and even somewhat blinding, spray. The warning, if one is given, that the Striped Skunk is contemplating using his spray is that he will arch his back, raise his tail, stamp his front feet and shuffle backward. Because of his spray, the Striped Skunk has few predators. For the most part, it is only the birds of prey, especially owls, that can truly take the skunk by surprise enough to make a decent meal out of him.
The Striped Skunk is largely nocturnal, becoming active right about dusk and ambling about through the night searching for food. The Striped Skunk is an omnivore, feasting quite a lot upon insects such as grasshoppers which are a favorite of the Skunk. Depending on the season, the Striped Skunk also feasts upon meat from small mammals, eggs, and fruits and berries. In Autumn, the Striped Skunk focuses on growing as fat as he can so that he can spend his winter inside a den. He does not quite hibernate; but he does become quite dormant throughout the cold winter.
If handled correctly, the Striped Skunk can be very easily tamed and throughout the 1800’s, the Striped Skunk was kept by many people as a barn pet in place of a house cat as a means of killing off mice and rats. The early settlers also found the Striped Skunk quite useful for his sweet, white meat (provided he had not sprayed just before he was shot) and for his fur. I certainly do not advise that you set about to eat or to tame a Striped Skunk for yourself, however, because they are second only to racoons when it comes to carrying rabies. If the potential spray is not enough to keep you from approaching too closely to a Striped Skunk, perhaps keeping in mind the potential for contracting rabies or leptospirosis will!
Like most of Utah’s animals, the Striped Skunk is a brilliant thing to see in his natural habitat and is nothing to be afraid of provided you use common sense and do not attempt to corner him.
Although he is mostly nocturnal, I have come across the Striped Skunk several times riding horses here at Rising K Ranch. I have yet to be bothered by them or even been close to being sprayed by them. Rather than coming after you to try and spray or bite you, the Striped Skunk is much more likely to walk away from you, or if you are quiet enough and not riding directly toward him, he may just ignore you altogether,