Mephitis mephitis - (Schreber, 1776)
Striped Skunk
Other English Common Names: striped skunk
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Mephitis mephitis (Schreber, 1776) (TSN 180562)
French Common Names: mouffette rayée
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.104432
Element Code: AMAJF06010
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Mammals - Carnivores
Image 7713

© Larry Master

 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Mammalia Carnivora Mephitidae Mephitis
Genus Size: B - Very small genus (2-5 species)
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Wilson, D. E., and D. M. Reeder (editors). 1993. Mammal species of the world: a taxonomic and geographic reference. Second edition. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC. xviii + 1206 pp. Available online at: http://www.nmnh.si.edu/msw/.
Concept Reference Code: B93WIL01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Mephitis mephitis
Taxonomic Comments: Based on patterns of mtDNA variation in Mustelidae, Dragoo and Honeycut (1997) recommended that skunks (Mehitis, Conepatus, Spilogale) and the Oriental stink badger (MYDAUS) be separated as a distinct family (Mephitidae). Wozencraft (in Wilson and Reeder 2005) recognized the family Mephitidae.
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 04Apr2016
Global Status Last Changed: 18Nov1996
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Nation: United States
National Status: N5 (05Sep1996)
Nation: Canada
National Status: N5 (01Jan2018)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Alabama (S4), Arizona (S5), Arkansas (S5), California (SNR), Colorado (S5), Connecticut (S5), Delaware (S5), District of Columbia (S4), Florida (SNR), Georgia (S5), Idaho (S4), Illinois (S5), Indiana (S4), Iowa (S5), Kansas (S5), Kentucky (S5), Louisiana (S4S5), Maine (S5), Maryland (S5), Massachusetts (S5), Michigan (S5), Minnesota (SNR), Mississippi (S5), Missouri (S5), Montana (S5), Navajo Nation (S5), Nebraska (S5), Nevada (S5), New Hampshire (S5), New Jersey (S5), New Mexico (S5), New York (S5), North Carolina (S4), North Dakota (SNR), Ohio (SNR), Oklahoma (S5), Oregon (S5), Pennsylvania (S5), Rhode Island (S5), South Carolina (SNR), South Dakota (S5), Tennessee (S5), Texas (S5), Utah (S5), Vermont (S5), Virginia (S5), Washington (S5), West Virginia (S5), Wisconsin (S5), Wyoming (S5)
Canada Alberta (S5), British Columbia (S5), Manitoba (S5), New Brunswick (S5), Northwest Territories (SU), Nova Scotia (S5), Ontario (S5), Prince Edward Island (SNA), Quebec (S5), Saskatchewan (S5)

Other Statuses

IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: Throughout much of North America, from northern Baja California, northern Durango, northern Tamaulipas, and Florida to central Canada (southwestern Northwest Territories, Hudson Bay, southern Quebec).

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: Throughout much of North America, from northern Baja California, northern Durango, northern Tamaulipas, and Florida to central Canada (southwestern Northwest Territories, Hudson Bay, southern Quebec).

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NN, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV, WY
Canada AB, BC, MB, NB, NS, NT, ON, PEexotic, QC, SK

Range Map
Note: Range depicted for New World only. The scale of the maps may cause narrow coastal ranges or ranges on small islands not to appear. Not all vagrant or small disjunct occurrences are depicted. For migratory birds, some individuals occur outside of the passage migrant range depicted. For information on how to obtain shapefiles of species ranges see our Species Mapping pages at www.natureserve.org/conservation-tools/data-maps-tools.

Range Map Compilers: NatureServe, 2005; Sechrest, 2002

Ecology & Life History
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Reproduction Comments: Breeds February-late March, peak in mid-February. Reported pregnancy rate is 78-96%. Gestation lasts 62-68 days. Litter of 2-10 (average 6-8) is born from late April to early June; one litter per year. Young are weaned and begin to follow female at 6-7 weeks; some on their own by fall. Sexually mature in first spring.
Ecology Comments: Home range up to several hundred ha; males tend to wander more than do females. Population density may fluctuate greatly. Several individuals, mainly females, may share winter den
Non-Migrant: Y
Locally Migrant: Y
Long Distance Migrant: N
Palustrine Habitat(s): FORESTED WETLAND, HERBACEOUS WETLAND, Riparian
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Bare rock/talus/scree, Cropland/hedgerow, Desert, Forest - Conifer, Forest - Hardwood, Forest - Mixed, Grassland/herbaceous, Old field, Savanna, Suburban/orchard, Woodland - Conifer, Woodland - Hardwood, Woodland - Mixed
Special Habitat Factors: Burrowing in or using soil, Fallen log/debris, Standing snag/hollow tree
Habitat Comments: Prefers semi-open country with woodland and meadows interspersed, brushy areas, bottomland woods. Frequently found in suburban areas. Dens often under rocks, log, or building. May excavate burrow or use burrow abandoned by other mammal.
Adult Food Habits: Carnivore, Frugivore, Invertivore
Immature Food Habits: Carnivore, Frugivore, Invertivore
Food Comments: Varied diet of plant/animal foods (insects, small mammals, eggs, carrion, fruit, etc.) Opportunistic. Half of summer diet is insects (Banfield 1974). Excellent digger.
Adult Phenology: Crepuscular, Nocturnal
Immature Phenology: Crepuscular, Nocturnal
Phenology Comments: Mostly crepuscular or nocturnal, sometimes active during daytime. May be dormant during extended periods of cold snowy weather; males more likely to be active in winter.
Length: 80 centimeters
Weight: 6300 grams
Economic Attributes
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Economic Comments: Large numbers of pelts taken in some areas, but value relatively low (pelt yielded average of about $1.60 in Ok in early 1980s (Caire et al. 1989). Can do considerable damage to poultry. Major carrier and reservoir of rabies (though most skunks are not rabid).
Management Summary
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Management Requirements: See Conover (1990) for information on the use of emetine dihydrochloride to reduce predation on chicken eggs. See Bickle et al. (1991) for information on the use of hormone implants to limit populations through control fertility; this method could be useful in urban/suburban situations.
Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Group Name: Skunks

Use Class: Not applicable
Subtype(s): Winter Den
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of historical presence, or current and likely recurring presence, at a given location. Such evidence minimally includes collection or reliable observation and documentation of one or more individuals in appropriate habitat where the species is presumed to be established and breeding.
Separation Barriers: Large rivers and long lakes, arbitrarily set at greater than 200 meters across.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Justification: Home range size of skunks can be quite large: SPILOGALE PUTORIUS, 518-1036 hectares in Iowa (Crabb 1948); MEPHITIS MEPHITIS, 34-753 ha in Illinois (Storm 1972). Skunks may move from one area to another, depending on available food resources, and they commonly traverse all kinds of habitats. Thus a large separation distance is appropriate (roughly three times the diameter of a large home range), and the separation distance is the same for both suitable and unsuitable habitat.
Inferred Minimum Extent of Habitat Use (when actual extent is unknown): 2.5 km
Inferred Minimum Extent Justification: Based on a home range of 500 hectares (see Separation Justification).
Date: 24Mar2004
Author: Cannings, S., and G. Hammerson
Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 20Apr1993
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Hammerson, G.

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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"Data provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Bruce Patterson, Wes Sechrest, Marcelo Tognelli, Gerardo Ceballos, The Nature Conservancy-Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International-CABS, World Wildlife Fund-US, and Environment Canada-WILDSPACE."

Citation for Amphibian Range Maps of the Western Hemisphere:
IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe. 2004. Global Amphibian Assessment. IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe, Washington, DC and Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Acknowledgement Statement for Amphibian Range Maps of the Western Hemisphere:
"Data developed as part of the Global Amphibian Assessment and provided by IUCN-World Conservation Union, Conservation International and NatureServe."

NOTE: Full metadata for the Bird Range Maps of North America is available at:
http://www.natureserve.org/library/birdDistributionmapsmetadatav1.pdf.

Full metadata for the Mammal Range Maps of North America is available at:
http://www.natureserve.org/library/mammalsDistributionmetadatav1.pdf.

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