Skunks may be roaming more freely these days as it’s skunk mating season.
One place they’ve been spotted up on the hills of the Binghamton University Nature Preserve.
“When I was a graduate student it seemed like fewer people were out here, but I would just have skunks at my feet,” said Dylan Horvath, steward of Natural Areas at BU. “I just stood there and they walked around me. They didn’t bother sniffing me or anything.
He’s seen a variant of skunks that is mostly white.
Skunks are nocturnal and don’t cover much territory – just about 12 acres.
As the days get longer and warmer, mating season for the striped skunk runs through the end of March. They’re not usually social critters. They don’t hibernate, either, but they will cuddle all together in a den for warmth through the chilly winter months.
During mating season, males will travel a few miles in search of females. Their dens can be really anywhere they can fit – hollowed out logs and abandon dens of other animals.
“Although, it’s kind of funny because I see more skunks around buildings and in downtown Binghamton then I do around here,” said Horvath.
That’s because the overwhelming deer population disrupts the Nature Preserve’s ecosystem. Skunks head out of the preserve to find easy food sources.
“If you feed outdoor cats, you will likely encounter skunks. Cats don’t mind being around skunks, and so they’re a little less likely to be sprayed,” said Horvath.
Pepé Le Pew got along too well with his kitty cat love interest.
Come May, litters of baby skunks, called kits, will be born, 3-7 kits per litter.
Juvenile kit audio courtesy of Donn Carr/Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology
*Correction: skunks normally cover a territory of approximately 12 acres. The original post stated 12 yards.