Skip to Main Content

striped skunk

Fact File

Scientific Name: Mephitis mephitis mephitis

Classification: Mammalia, Order Carnivora, Family Mephitidae

Identifying Characteristics

This species is the size of a house cat, with small rounded ears and black eyes. The triangular head tapers to a bulbous nose pad and the tail is long and bushy. The coarse long black fur has a thin white stripe from the nose to the forehead and a broad stripe from the crown of the head which may branch at the shoulders, continuing toward the tail. They have highly developed musk glands. The total length is from 600-700 mm, with males being larger than the females. Breeding is from February-March, with a litter averaging 5-8 young born in May. The young may follow the mother single file on hunting trips. They are nocturnal, and are most active at dawn and dusk. Longevity is 2-3.5 years, seldom over 5-6 years in the wild.


This subspecies of striped skunk is found in the west half of the state only. This species prefers brushy fields and forest borders. Deciduous vegetation is preferred to be low, second growth, with more open areas over dense forests. They are normally found within 2 miles of water.

Last updated: August 18, 2023

The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources Species Profile Database serves as a repository of information for Virginia’s fish and wildlife species. The database is managed and curated by the Wildlife Information and Environmental Services (WIES) program. Species profile data, distribution information, and photography is generated by the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, State and Federal agencies, Collection Permittees, and other trusted partners. This product is not suitable for legal, engineering, or surveying use. The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources does not accept responsibility for any missing data, inaccuracies, or other errors which may exist. In accordance with the terms of service for this product, you agree to this disclaimer.