Striped Skunk

Mephitis mephitis

Skunks are well-known for their powerful defense mechanism: a noxious spray that can reach up to 10 feet and linger for over a mile! This potent spray acts as a very effective deterrent against predators, even causing temporary blindness with its irritation. Interestingly, skunks are quite reluctant to use their spray, as it takes time to replenish. They'll first resort to warning behaviors like stomping, hissing, and raising their tail to avoid wasting their precious defense.

Skunks are surprisingly adaptable eaters. They're omnivores that enjoy a varied diet of insects, fruits, vegetables, small rodents, and even bird eggs. Their excellent digging skills, thanks to strong forelimbs and long claws, help them unearth worms and grubs. The black and white stripes on a skunk serve as a clear warning to predators, with the stripes conveniently pointing towards the skunk's spray glands.

While solitary for most of the year, skunks do come together during mating season and females raise their young in shared dens. Skunks play a beneficial role in some agricultural settings by feasting on beetles and other crop-damaging insects. Additionally, some skunk species perform a unique "handstand dance" as a final warning before spraying, and they even have some resistance to rattlesnake venom!

Our Current Residents

Shane and Cody - Born 2022

Shane and Cody were brought to ZooMontana after their mom was shot.  Orphaned, and imprinted on humans, they were unable to be released back into the wild.  While they are shy, they coexist well with the Zoo's porcupines.  


  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Order: Carnivora
  • Family: Mephitidae
  • Genus: Mephitis
  • Species: Mephitis mephitis

Animal Facts

  • Omnivore: Eats grubs, berries, worms, small mammals and eggs
  • Population: Strong
  • Habitat: Agricultural lands, wooded areas, deserts, plains, urban environments, and abandoned burrows
  • Nocturnal: Active during the night