Description: The striped skunk is stout-bodied with short legs and a long, bushy, coarsely-furred tail. The head is broad at the base with short, tapered muzzle and short, rounded ears. The eyes are small and black. The five toes of each foot have strong claws with those of the front feet longer and curved. A narrow stripe along the forehead and muzzle is white. The top of the head and nape are white, the white continuing along each side as a narrow to broad stripe. In some individuals these stripes extend along the sides of the tail while in others only the tip of the tail is white. The rest of the tail is a mixture of black and white, a result of the white bases of the long black hairs. The remaining parts of the head and body are black. The relative amount of white varies among individuals producing color phases from near all black to predominantly white. Adults are 54-67 cm (21-26 in) in length which includes the 18-29 cm (7-11 in) tail, and weigh 1.1-5.5 kg (2.4-12.1 lb). Females are slightly smaller than males.
Food and Feeding Behavior: The striped skunk is an opportunistic omnivore and eats both plant and animal foods. Insects of many species make up most of the diet than any other type of food. The larvae of moths and butterflies, beetles and their grubs, grasshoppers and crickets are favorites, and striped skunks consume great quantities of these and other invertebrates during the warm months of the year. Various fruits, berries, and seeds such as blueberries and black cherries form a part of the summer and autumn diet. Small mammals and especially their young, the nestlings and eggs of ground nesting birds, turtle eggs, small reptiles and amphibians, and carrion are lesser dietary components. The striped skunk relies on its well-developed sense of vision, hearing, and smell to locate food. Skunks use the long, sharp claws of the forefeet to pry apart rotting logs to obtain beetle grubs or to excavate insects from the soil, or even to pounce on and pin down active prey. The practice of digging up insects from the ground creates small conical pits, evidence of recent foraging.
Reproduction: Striped skunks mate from mid-February to mid-April. Females bear 3-10 (average 5 or 6) young, 59-77 days later. The newborn have some hair, but their skin is mainly pink with a faint trace of the black and white pattern that develops at a later age. At birth, the young weigh approximately 33 g (1.2 oz) and are blind. Their eyes open between 21-28 days, which is about the same age young skunks are capable or orienting the discharge of their anal scent glands towards an intruder. Weaning is from 42-56 days, after which the young accompany the female on her nightly trips. The young disperse at 2.5 months of age, and are sexually mature the following spring. Striped skunks may live 10 years in captivity, although very few wild skunks survive 6 years.