Skunk babies on the move

What comes here? A writhing ball of hair on twenty feet. (With apologies for the window-blurred photos.)

2015-06-24 Skunk and skunk babies 002A mother striped skunk with her brood. The youngsters huddled around her, keeping their flanks pressed to one another. The whole mass trundled as one. When mother stopped to nose-poke the ground, the whole crew flowed forward to see what she’d found. Then, onward.

One of the four youngsters has a black tail. The others are white-striped on tail and face, like their mom.

2015-06-24 Skunk and skunk babies 0052015-06-24 Skunk and skunk babies 006And off they go, tails aloft. The young stay with their mother for two or three months, so these ones I guesstimate at 6-8 weeks. For a species whose adulthood is mostly solitary (the breeding season is a squall of screams and sprays, so little do they enjoy company), skunks start their lives with an intense cuddling-huddle-bustle bond with their families. Then hormones kick in, I suppose, with a burgeoning taste for perfume.

2015-06-24 Skunk and skunk babies 014

Collective noun: A charm of skunks.

13 thoughts on “Skunk babies on the move

  1. Robley Hood

    My aunt had a de-scented pet skunk when I was a child. It was such a beautiful, sweet animal. Honestly, these are dadgum cute (from a distance and through a window).

    1. David George Haskell Post author

      Mustelids are smart and affectionate, in my limited experience with ferrets and from watching skunks. I’ve heard some interesting stories of de-scenting operations in the old Sewanee hospital…

  2. Fountainpen

    I smiled remembering my aunt’s
    Story of as a child asking her dad to save a black
    And white kitty which was caught in a drainage pipe. She wanted take it home. Her dad’s reply:
    Not this one !!! We can’t take this one home!!!

  3. claire

    You just solved a puzzle in our Cambridge yard. Our housecats alerted me to a presence in our yard; usually I hunch behind them & squint with no success. But that evening there appeared to be a surprisingly large skunk with incredibly luxuriant fur. Looking at your wonderful pictures, I think I must have been seeing the twilight aura of a skunk family. Thanks!

  4. Judy Magavero

    Years ago, I had a sinuous creature approaching the vegetable garden around dusk. When it got closer, I realized that it was a mother skunk followed by 2 or 3 babies, nose to tail. I made sure to get out of the garden before dusk the rest of the summer.

  5. John Salmond

    In Australia we do have the magical kangaroo, plus koalas, quolls, blue-tongue lizards and Tassie Devils but not the to-us-near-mythological skunk. Which clearly in reality is as wonderful as in cartoons and comics

  6. Justyn

    As a wildlife rehabber & vet tech, I had the great joy & pleasure of caring for many little skunks ( & other wild babies & adults). Skunks are these little furry triangular creatures, wonderful & funny. They play & act very like kittens & are very sweet. Their eyesight is poor so they are easily startled – which is when the trouble usually begins. However, that is the defense they were given & we all deserve some way to try to protect ourselves & our little ones. De-scentin goes on at fur farms, where some are sent to petshops & buyers in late spring. Their other option is – yes – to be a coat. Several of these sweeties wound up in my care when they were no longer wanted. They stayed with me for the remainder of their lives & I was the richer for having had their company.
    When you are lucky enough to see one outdoors, free – give them a wide berth but enjoy!


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