Skunks are famous for being smelly creatures that fart. Many people may not know much about their ecology and only have the impression of “farting”.
However, the smell that skunks emit is not exactly farting. If it’s not farting, what is the source of the bad smell? I’m very curious. Let’s explore what kind of ecology skunks have!
～ Basic information. ～
Most skunks live widely from North America to South America. However, some skunks live in completely different areas. These species are the “sunda stink badger” and the “palawan stink badger”.
These two species are included in the stink badger genus. Their habitats are Indonesia, the Philippines, and Malaysia in Asia.
Skunks are basically solitary animals. They sleep in their homes during the day and start looking for food at night. Skunks are quite big eaters, so they spend most of their active time eating. They like sunny places and do not like places with poor sunlight.
Skunks live in the following five places.
・ Make it by digging a hole in the ground by yourself.
・Use wooden hollows.
・Use the shade of the rocks.
・ Hiding under private houses.
Use holes made by other animals.
It’s troublesome to have skunks living under your house. The possibility of contact between the residents of the house and skunks increases. If a bad smell is released near humans, it can cause various damages. It is important for both humans and skunks to maintain an appropriate distance.
Skunks breed from February to April. Males mate with females whose ranges overlap with theirs. Males do not participate in raising skunk offspring. Therefore, after mating is over, males go looking for the next female. Skunks are creatures of polygyny.
The gestation period is about 60 days, so many females give birth around May or June. Depending on the species of skunk, there may be differences in the period. Two to nine offspring are born in one birth. The weight of newborns is about 35g.
Females must take care of their children alone, such as giving them milk. Children become independent after about a year after birth. If a female gives birth to nine offspring, it would be difficult to imagine how hard it would be to raise them.
Skunks can be kept as pets, although it is not well known. I think many people are surprised that they can be kept as pets because they are animals that emit a strong odor. I’m curious about how to deal with the smell that is a problem.
Actually, skunks that can be kept as pets are passed on in a state where the odor glands, which are the source of the odor, have been removed. If the odor glands are removed, they cannot attack with bad odors. However, some people may be concerned about the animal’s musky odor.
There are hidden fans of skunks. Especially in America, where skunks live, there are many enthusiasts and their popularity is increasing. Let’s look up together about the breeding methods of skunks whose awareness is increasing!
What species can be bred?
Only “striped skunk” can be kept as a pet. It is the same species as the skunks kept in zoos.
Due to legal changes, it has become difficult to import skunks. In addition, skunks must undergo surgery to remove their scent glands. It takes time to sell them, so the price of skunks is about 250,000 to 300,000 yen.
What should I feed them?
Skunks are omnivorous and can eat a variety of things. You can’t prepare the same food as wild skunks, but you can substitute it.
Since there is no food specifically for skunks, the main food is dog food. For fruits and vegetables, try giving them a variety of different types, not just the same kind. For insects, you can buy mealworms and crickets at pet shops.
About the breeding environment.
To make it easier for the skunk to move, try to choose a larger size cage. Cages for large dogs are recommended. If the cage is small, it will cause stress.
Prepare a water bottle for dogs and cats to attach to the cage.
In order not to turn over the bait bowl, it is recommended to use a heavy item such as pottery.
・Cat toilet and sand
Skunks have a habit of toileting in certain places. Install a toilet in a place where you often do it. Skunks are surprisingly clean, so please clean them every day.
The blanket serves as a place where the skunk can hide. It will also protect your nails from being damaged, so be prepared.
There are three points to keep in mind when breeding.
①Find a veterinary clinic that can examine skunks.
Skunks can only be treated at exotic animal hospitals. Skunks are pets that require multiple vaccinations. Make sure you have a hospital that can examine them in advance.
②Maintain proper temperature control.
Skunks are strong against the cold but weak against the heat. At the change of seasons, it is especially important to pay attention to the temperature of the room. The temperature at which skunks can be comfortable is said to be about 15-18℃. Check the temperature and adjust it with heating and cooling equipment.
③Let’s take good care of your physical condition.
Skunks are big eaters who eat as much as they are given. If the owner does not manage their meals properly, they will become obese. Feed them a fixed amount twice a day.
Also, moderate exercise is necessary for health management. Skunks are creatures with a wide range of activities, so the cage is too small. Set aside time for walks at night and create space for them to move around in the room. It’s not only good for their health but also helps relieve stress.
Where does the skunk get its name？
The origin of the name skunk is related to a Native American tribe in the United States. The tribe is called the Abenaki. The Abenaki called the skunk “seganku.” Seganku means “something that sprays.”
Indeed, skunks spray their enemies with bad odor. You can see that they were named after their unique way of attacking.
What do skunks eat？
Skunks are omnivores, so they can eat anything. If you are a wild skunk, there is a wide variety of food. It’s difficult to keep track of everything, so here’s a quick introduction to what you eat.
・Insects (grasshoppers, larvae, crickets, beetles, etc.)
・Plants (fruits, leaves, etc.)
Small mammals (mice, rabbits, eggs, etc.)
・Garbage in private houses
Looking at the above contents, it seems that if you have so much to eat, you will not have any trouble with food. However, it is surprising that even the garbage of private houses is eaten.
Is it true that skunk stench is not farts?
The skunk’s bad odor is not emitted from the anus. It is emitted from the scent glands on either side of the anus. Because the scent glands are located close to the anus, it has been mistaken for fart.
The true identity of the skunk’s bad odor is a yellow secretion called “musk.” This secretion contains a component called “butanethiol.”
Butanethiol is a component that has elements similar to poison. It contains not only an odor but also dangerous components. I was reminded that the weapon that skunks have is powerful.
How do skunks attack?
The skunk’s attack method is to release the bad odor towards the enemy. However, it does not attack the enemy suddenly. If it encounters an enemy, it starts with a warning.
The skunk’s warning is to raise its tail high and hit the ground with its front legs. It does not want to fight actively, so it acts to make the opponent run away by warning. Animals that know the skunk’s bad odor do not approach it.
However, not all animals will run away. If the warning does not make them run away, there is no choice but to release the bad odor towards the opponent. Even if the distance between the opponent and the skunk is about 3-5m, the skunk can hit its target.
However, the skunk’s attack also has a disadvantage.
That disadvantage is that the amount of secretion that can be used is limited. Since the secretion is created inside the body, it takes time to replenish what has been used. Understanding this, skunks only use bad odor as a last resort without wasting it.
What does a skunk stink like?
It is said that the smell of skunk is smelly, but what is it really? There are different types of smelly odors, so it’s hard to imagine. So, here are some analogies of people who actually smelled odors.
・Strong garlic smell
・Smell of hydrogen sulfide
・ The smell of old tires and rubber burnt
・Smell of rotten sesame oil
・The smell of rotten onions etc.
Just by looking at the above analogy, you can see that it certainly smells bad.
Is it true that skunk odors are not easy to remove?
Have you ever heard that skunk odor is hard to get rid of? Although some odors can be removed by washing with water and soap, skunk odor is not easy to remove. I will briefly explain why it cannot be washed away.
Human skin contains a substance called protein. Skunk secretion adheres to the protein in the skin.
In addition, the adhered secretion gradually penetrates into the human skin. Unlike the odor that adheres to the surface of the skin, the secretion that has penetrated cannot be washed away, so the odor remains.
Is it true that skunks have dangerous characteristics besides stench?
Skunks are known for their bad odor, but they are also dangerous in other ways. The danger is “rabies.”
Rabies is a zoonotic disease that is caused by the rabies virus. It is transmitted through the saliva of an infected animal, usually through a bite wound. Once infected with rabies, there is no cure and the infected animal will die 100% of the time. It is a dangerous virus that cannot be treated even with medical technology that continues to evolve.
The animals that are famous for transmitting the virus are dogs, bats, foxes, and skunks. Animals infected with rabies become violent and attack indiscriminately. If you see a wild skunk, you need to be careful not only of the bad odor but also of being bitten and keep your distance.
Do skunks have natural enemies?
The skunk’s natural enemy is birds of prey. The representative enemy is the “horned owl.”
Skunks are weak against enemies from the sky, and birds have a dull sense of smell, so the bad odor attack is less effective. Enemies on land can be repelled by odor, but if the odor does not work on the enemy, they can only run away. Even skunks with powerful weapons cannot compete with some enemies.
Type of skunk.
【Spotted skunk genus】
・Western Spotted Skunk
・Eastern Spotted Skunk
・Pygmy Spotted Skunk
・Southern Spotted Skunk
【Hog-nosed skunk genus】
・Western Hog-nosed Skunk
・American Hog-nosed Skunk
・Striped Hog-nosed Skunk
・Molina’s Hog-nosed Skunk
・Humboldt’s Hog-nosed Skunk
【stink badger genus】
・Sunda Stink Badger
・Palawan Stink Badger
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