Occasionally seen in Wind Cave National Park, the striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis) is best known for its smelly reputation. About the size of a house cat, it may be recognized by it black body, narrow white stripe up the middle of the forehead, and broad white area on the nape, which usually divides into a V at about the shoulders. The striped skunk inhabits semi-open country including mixed woods, brushland, and open prairie, normally within two miles of water. Skunks are chiefly nocturnal, starting hunting after sunset. Their diet is an omnivorous mix of mice, eggs, insects, grubs, berries, and carrion. Dens are located in ground burrows, beneath abandoned buildings, boulders, or wood or rock piles. Several females may den together in winter, whereas males tend to be solitary. As many as ten young are born in May and may be seen accompanying the mother in late June or July, following in single file.
Did You Know?
Fire is an important factor in protecting the prairie. Historically, fires burned across the prairie every 4 to 7 years. Fires burn the small trees that would otherwise march across the prairie and turn the grasslands to forest.