Striped Skunk


The Striped Skunk (Mephitis mephitis), or Zorillo in Spanish, is the most common skunk in North America, having a range reaching from southern Canada to central Mexico. About the size of a domestic cat, it is easily identifiable by its black fur and two white stripes along its back. Besides its coloration, this skunk is most famous for the foul-smelling spray it shoots from glands at the base of its tail when threatened. 

Striped skunks are commonly found in habitats like woodlands, forests, wooded canyons, riparian areas, and grassy plains. They are perfect examples of an “urban adapter,” having moved into urban and populated neighborhoods of San Diego County.

The striped skunk is an omnivore, and depending on the season it is known to eat a diet consisting of seeds, nuts, fruits, and insects, invertebrates like crayfish, and worms, small mammals like voles, and even the eggs and young of ground-nesting birds. Known predators to the striped skunk include great horned owls, eagles, mountain lions, bobcats, foxes, and badgers. 

To learn more about the striped skunk, visit the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology.

PHOTO CREDIT: Pacific Southwest Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service