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striped skunk

striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis) Photo © Mary Kay Rubey

Features and Behaviors


The striped skunk has a head-body length of 13 to 18 inches and a tail of seven to 10 inches in length. It weighs from six to 10 pounds. Its body, belly and feet are black. The white stripe on the back divides into two, smaller stripes. A small white stripe is present on its nose and forehead. It has long back feet. This skunk has a fluffy, black tail with white on it.


The striped skunk may be found statewide in Illinois. It lives in pastures with grassy fencerows, weedy roadsides or open woods. The striped skunk eats amphibians, birds, carrion, garbage, grasses, insects, fruits, small mammals, reptiles, roots and vegetables. It feeds and is active mostly during the night. The skunk is known for its bad-smelling scent that is used to spray any animal it considers to be a threat. When initially disturbed, the skunk will arch its back, raise its tail to show the scent glands and stomp the ground. It only releases its foul scent after this warning. The spray may travel over 10 feet. Mating occurs in February or March. After a gestation period of two to two and one-half months, the one to nine young are born. Young are raised under ground in a den, which is usually taken over from another mammal.

Illinois Range


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Mephitidae

Illinois Status: common, native