Newsletter February 2010

Fun Animal Fact of the Month

A skunk can spray up to 16 feet and as many as 8 times consecutively before having to re-charge for a day

Inspirational Quote Of the Month

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs are people who have come alive.” ~ Dr. Howard Thurman

Welcome to CATCH EM’ the Got Wildlife? Monthly newsletter. We hope you enjoy it! This newsletter is for you, if you have any suggestions, questions or topics you would like us to cover please email:

For NY contact

For NJ contact


The Skunk

Spring is approaching and the animals are preparing to get down. February is upon us and the skunks are one of the first animals in our service area to be out and about looking to mate. Once they have found there partner and done their business you can be rest assured they will be looking for a nice, warm and cozy place to hunker down and prepare to give birth. Your homes and businesses are a perfect match. Some great places that they typically choose to den up are your porch, under the decks, foundations, barns and sheds. Don’t get me wrong, skunks don’t hibernate, they sleep deeply for up to 3 ½ months at a time. They’ll emerge periodically during warm spells so you might have seen them around all winter long, they just tend to be less active during the colder times until they are preparing to mate.

A skunk’s coat is thick, fluffy, and mainly black with a large white nape patch that continues and becomes two stripes along sides of back, usually reaching the tail (occasionally mostly white above). They typically will have a narrow white forehead stripe. Their head is pointed having small ears and eyes. They have poor vision, but their smell and hearing are excellent. Their legs are short and their tail is long and very bushy and during the mating season. Skunks den alone, or in a group of 2–7 females and 1 male. They do not migrate. Skunks breed from late February to March. There typical gestation period takes about 62 to 75 days. They give birth during May through June. Their typical litter size is 4 to 7 skunks. Skunks typically eat insects, rodents, bird and turtle eggs, fruit, road kills, and garbage. Skunks have a widespread habitat, ranging from coastal habitats to mature woodlands and small woodlots. They prefer open fields, lawns, and agricultural areas with areas of mixed shrubs and forest edges, near buildings, barns, or porches.

The scientific name of a skunk, mephitis mephitis means noxious gas. A skunk’s first line of defense is their two musk glands located on either side of the anus which spray extremely smelly yellow foam. But before a skunk sprays it goes through a series of warning motions. First it erects its tail and stamps its feet. Then it will hiss. If the intruder has not gone away by then, the skunk will spray. Skunks can be very smelly, especially from the mating season through the whelping season.

If your animal happens to get sprayed, tomato juice may assist, but it certainly is messy and acidic. A alternative remedy is a combination of Peroxide, Baking Soda and Dish Detergent, mix the ingrediants together until it becomes a pasty consistency and then rub it all over your animal. Also, if you happen to notice that your pet is rolling in the grass, let them do it. Grass is a natural deodorizer which will assist in lessening the stench.

Beyond the smell, skunks can wreak havoc on your lawn. They are avid grub eaters. They also can be a carrier of rabies and distemper. Skunks have very few predators. In fact, the Horned Owl is the only predator in our service area. Another interesting fact, skunks are resistant to snake venom.

Damage from Skunks digging for grubs.

Some misconceptions regarding skunks:

  • A skunk that’s active during the day isn’t necessarily rabid. It may be a healthy female that’s feeding more often than usual, because of the demands of her young.
  • Adult skunks are not trigger-happy but “teenaged” skunks may be. Very young skunks squirt small amounts of fluid as they walk because they’re not yet mature enough to have control of the “spray muscles.” If you can “talk skunk,” you can usually tell if an adult skunk intends to spray.
  • Grubbing by skunks is sometimes blamed on other animals because there’s no skunk smell. Skunks spray in defense.


The Skunk

Some Preventative Maintenance:

  1. Put trash out in morning instead of the evening, if possible, or keep it in a protected area.
  2. Skunk-proof garbage can with a tight fitting lid, or secure it with straps.
  3. Don’t leave pet food or their food bowls out at night.
  4. Enclose compost piles in a framed box using hardware cloth or welded wire; in a sturdy container, such as a 55-gallon drum; or in a commercial composter.
  5. Treat lawns to reduce grub populations (biological controls are preferred. In the southern part of the state, where it’s been proven to work, try Milky Spore).
  6. Keep mice out of buildings. Skunks eat them, and will go inside buildings looking for them.
  7. Remove brush piles and debris.


Mohonk Preserve. Sunday March 14th. Kids’ Day in the Sugarbush. Go for a fun hike and join the fun of maple sugaring. For more information please visit

Museum of Hudson Highlands. Every Sat. & Sun. at the Wildlife Nature Center, “Meet the Animal of the Week” 1:00 pm & 2:30 pm. For more information please visit;

Carry Institute of Ecosystem Studies. Sunday Feb. 21st. Winter Ecology Walk @12:00. For more information please visit;

Beczak Environmental Education Center. Saturday March 27th. Come Fly with Me 11:00 am & 1:00 pm. For more information please visit;

Scherman-Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary. Sunday Feb 21st. Owls at Scherman-Hoffman 2:00 pm. For more information please visit

And for some Wildlife fun all year round visit: – located in West Orange, NJ —located in Sussex, NJ The Bear Mountain Zoo located in the Bear Mountain State Park, NY