Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Skunk Family

I’ve had a family of Striped Skunks foraging in the yard the past few nights. They usually disappear each morning before it gets light enough to take decent photographs, but thick clouds ahead of an approaching storm front caused them to hang around the yard a little bit later than usual yesterday morning. Young skunks tend to bunch up, sometimes making it difficult to determine how many animals you are dealing with.  This looks very much like a pair of adult skunks.

In this case it’s actually one mother skunk, the one to the left with fur exhibiting a yellow stain, and three youngsters.

Mother stopped for a bit of grooming and the kids crowded in close beside her.

Within seconds they pretty much had her pinned to the ground. They appeared to just want to stay close to Mom. I didn’t see any trying to nurse. Their size suggests that they should be weaned or nearly so.

video
Here’s a short video of skunk mother and child interaction.

They’re at that age where they are beginning to make short explorations on their own.

An unchaperoned excursion away from Mother is short-lived.

They quickly return to the security of the adult. The proportion of black fur to white fur is highly variable on striped skunks. Many of the Blue Jay Barrens specimens exhibit extensive white coloration on the backs and tails.

Finally, the family moved on. The thump and clatter I heard shortly after they left the yard told me that they were taking refuge in an old hay baler sitting below the barn. The family will disband soon and the youngsters will head out to find their own territories, but I’m sure I’ll be seeing them from time to time.

video
In this video, the skunk family heads down the trail in such a close formation they appear to be a single animal.  That is until one pops out of line.

2 comments:

  1. I've mothered orphaned skunks. They're so darling and fun. Thanks for the post!

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    1. Hi, Jain. The youngsters sure are cute. If only the mature skunks weren't so anxious to share their scent with the world. Moments after posting this story, I caught a faint odor of skunk scent. Outside the window, a skunk and a raccoon were quarreling over who had the rights to spilled bird seed beneath the feeder. The skunks odor wasn't doing a thing to dissuade the raccoon, but it kept on releasing little squirts into the raccoon's face. I went outside and chased them both away.

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