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striped skunk

Fact File

Scientific Name: Mephitis mephitis nigra

Classification: Mammalia, Order Carnivora, Family Mephitidae

Distribution: This subspecies of striped skunk is found only in the eastern half of the state. They prefer bushy fields, and forest borders. They like deciduous forests that are low, second growth and more open areas over dense forests. They are normally found within 2 miles of water.

Identifying Characteristics

This skunk is the size of a house cat, with small rounded ears, and black eyes. The triangular head tapers to a bulbous nose pad, tail is long and bushy, and the coarse long fur is black with 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 575-625 mm. The breeding season is from February-March, with a litter of 2-10 young being born in May. The young will follow the mother single file on hunting trips. They are nocturnal and are most active at dawn and dusk. They den alone or communally in the winter. They are usually in other animals burrows, or they dig their own, with several well-hidden entrances and lined chambers. Longevity is 2-3.5 years and they seldom are over 5-6 years in the wild.

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.