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NHMLA Member Magazine

October November 2017
Download the Naturalist PDF (4 MB)


Striped skunk

Mephitis mephitis (Schreber, 1776)

Striped skunk diorama in the North American Mammal Hall


 Mount Rainier National Park, Washington State

Striped skunks are nocturnal. They often use burrows made by other animals or natural holes under tree stumps or buildings but sometimes use their long front claws to build their own den.

Females often remain inactive throughout the winter, but males usually emerge from their dens to feed during mild intervals. Winter dens usually consist of six females and their young. A male may sometimes overwinter in a den with females, but usually lives alone.

Biological Information

Range map for the striped skunk


Throughout southern Canada, United States (except for parts of arid southwest) and northern Mexico. Rare above 6,000 feet


Woodland, plains and streamside thickets




Mostly insects, but also small rodents, birds, bird eggs, fruit and carrion

Further information about this species may be found on the Animal Diversity Web page for striped skunk.