Fall a busy time for Ohio’s skunks

Fall is not all football and foliage. It’s also a busy time for
Ohio’s striped skunks.

That distinct whiff in the early morning air is evidence that
skunks have been out and about while everyone else was
sleeping.

Suzie Prange, a fur-bearer expert with the Ohio DNR, said the
recent hot summer kept skunk activity at a minimum. They don’t like
hot weather.

But the first seasonal drop in temperature is a signal for
“dispersal,” meaning kits born last spring are nearly full grown
and ready to leave the nest in search of good winter homes.

That home might be under a deck or porch, in a woodpile or in an
abandoned groundhog den. Skunks don’t hibernate, but they do “den
up” in the winter, snoozing off and on until the breeding season
starts in February, Prange said.

This time of year, skunks are also busy eating everything in
sight, storing as much fat as possible in preparation for
cold-weather napping.

Skunks are omnivores and will eat pet food left outdoors,
insects, small rodents, and household garbage. Urban neighborhoods
provide abundant sources of food.

But my godson R.J. Timmons, an avid outdoorsman, has another
theory about the seemingly increasing number of skunks and other
“nuisance wildlife” in towns. He believes Ohio’s growing coyote
population in rural areas is forcing the critters to take up city
living for safety.

Timmons also observed that skunk activity appears to peak on
cool, damp nights when earthworms – a skunk delicacy – are most
prevalent.

“They love earthworms,” Timmons said.

 

Categories: Ohio – Jane Beathard

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