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Striped Skunk (Mephitis mephitis)

striped skunk


  • About the size of a house cat, with a total body length ranging from 54 to 79 centimetres (21 to 31 inches).


  • Is one of the most easily recognized and respected animals in the province. Its glossy black fur with two white stripes along each side of the body is a distinctive warning to stay away.
  • Is found in all natural regions in Alberta.
Natural History


  • Prefers forested to semi-forested areas for its habitat.
  • Can also be found in agricultural areas.


  • Although skunks are efficient mousers, much of their diet consists of insects, eggs, frogs and young birds, making them beneficial to farmers and gardeners.

When Active

  • Being nocturnal, the striped skunk hunts at night and spends the day sleeping in any shelter it finds at dawn.
  • Winter is a time of reduced activity and is spent in a den.
Reproduction and Growth

Breeding Behaviour

  • Mating occurs after emergence from winter dens in the spring.
  • Six to eight young are born in May.
Conservation and Management


The striped skunk is classified as Secure in the current General Status of Alberta Wild Species report. See:

Smells like peaceful living

The protection afforded skunks by their ability to spray the repulsive and irritating contents of their anal scent glands accurately up to 3 metres (10 feet) has resulted in a peaceful, non-aggressive lifestyle.

The great horned owl is perhaps their only significant enemy, most likely because it has a limited sense of smell.


Page Information

Updated May 17, 2010