Have you noticed an increase in 'skunky' smells along roadways in the past month or so?
This is not just a coincidence. We are currently in skunk mating season. Skunk mating season runs from late winter until early spring.
Skunks are usually active at night (nocturnal) or during dawn and dusk (crepuscular). During mating season though, male skunks become active during the day and move slowly. They also are less likely to back down from danger, which is why they often get hit by cars, leaving the roads covered in that famous skunk smell.
When someone says, "skunk," people often think of Pepe Le Pew. Pepe was based on a striped skunk, which we have in Kentucky, but it is only one species of skunk.
There are actually 10 different species of skunks, two of which reside in Kentucky. The most common type of skunk found in Kentucky is the striped skunk.
There are also spotted skunks, which are rare but can be found in the southeastern part of Kentucky, according to University of Kentucky Wildlife Extension Agent Thomas Barnes. Spotted skunks are smaller than striped ones and have white fur with jagged bands of black going across the fur horizontally.
Skunks usually live in wooded areas, but since people have expanded into their natural habitat, skunks sometimes take up residence in barns, under houses or any place they can find shelter and food — often insects and rodents.
- Here are some tips from the UK College of Agriculture to help keep your property skunk-free:
- Clean up any piles of debris in your yard. Any debris could harbor insects, which skunks like to eat.
- Make sure your trash and recycling are securely in their bins, not just in bags.
- If you feed your pets outside, make sure you clean up any leftover food — this is an easy meal for a skunk.
- Make sure you handle any rodent infestations quickly, because they could attract skunks.
Remember, skunks play an important role in our environment, just like any living creature. Skunks may be smelly, but they are beneficial because they help keep the rodent and insect populations under control.
Skunks also eat insects that are considered to be agricultural pests to farmers and gardeners. Skunks don't spray unless they feel threatened, so the best approach in managing skunk problems whenever possible is to leave them alone.
Amanda's Animal Fact of the Week
Grizzly bears can be quite fast, and have been clocked at 30 miles per hour.
Amanda Wheeler is a Danville resident who has worked as an educator for the Cincinnati Zoo. She is currently pursuing her master's degree in zoology.