What's a Skunk Baby's Name + 4 More Amazing Facts!
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Baby skunks are known for their stinky spray, but that's not what's fun about them! Did you know they belong to their own scientific family? How about the fact that their spray is not in unlimited supply?
Read on to learn about baby skunk names and four more fun facts!
#1: The little skunk is called a toolkit!
The little skunk is called a kit! Just like human babies are called babies and puppies are called puppies, baby skunks have a special name. The little skunk is called a kit! But they're not the only animals on Earth to use that name. Here are some other critters known as kits:
#2: Skunk Pups Born Blind and Toothless
Newborn skunk babies are completely dependent on their mother for survival. Because they are mammals, they must be breastfed for one to two months. Since they have no teeth, they cannot eat any other type of food.
Baby skunks are born with their eyes closed and don't open them until they are about 3 weeks old. Fortunately, they have an excellent sense of smell, which is exactly what they use to find their mother. Female skunks are very protective of their young. Whenever there is a threat near her young, the mother skunk stomps and hisses to warn them.
While female skunks can use the stinky spray to scare away predators, newborn skunk kits cannot. The scent glands that release the defensive spray are not fully developed until the pups are about three months old. Even once they can use them, skunk babies choose not to, unless they are in serious danger.
Skunks use spray exclusively to protect themselves from danger. Some of the most common predators of skunks are owls, foxes, hawks and coyotes.
#3: Skunk babies are independent at one year old!
It's crazy to imagine a one-year-old baby being able to survive on his own. However, this is a reality for the skunk kit. Once they are weaned, able to forage for themselves and learn how to protect themselves, they can become independent.
Most skunk pups are successfully separated from their mothers when they are 10 to 12 months old. At this age, they're also fully sexually mature, so they're even ready to have babies! Female skunks give birth to an average of about one litter per year.
But how many babies can a skunk have at one time? Typically, there are four to seven baby skunks in the den.
The skunk gestation period is about 60 days, and almost all skunk pups are born between April and May in the spring. Although this is less common, there are still some stragglers born in early June. As older females prepare to mate earlier in the season, they often give birth. Older females were also more likely to produce large litters than younger skunks.
Skunks are polygamous, which means that a single male is likely to have many litters. Occasionally, female skunks will reject male mating offers. When this happens, she develops a foul odor that emanates from her body. This tells the male skunk to find another mate. While the smell of skunk spray can linger for weeks, the smell from refusal to mate usually lasts only a few days and is less offensive.
#4: Skunk kits are in a scientific family of their own!
Scientists once believed that skunk kits belonged to the weasel family. This means they are thought to be related to badgers, otters and weasels. However, in the 1990s, scientists analyzed the skunk molecule and found that the skunk's classification was incorrect.
Molecular analysis indicated that the skunks should be placed in their own family. They were renamed Mephitidae, a family that includes only four species of skunks and stinky badgers. This unique family consists of hog-nosed skunks, spotted skunks, hooded/striped skunks and stinky badgers. Now, that's one stinky family!
#5: The skunk baby spray is in limited supply
Skunks are arguably best known for their greasy, smelly spray when threatened. To protect themselves from predators, they can spray this spray up to 10 feet away.
When ready to squirt, baby skunks will stand upside down with their tails facing the predator. While the spray is harmless, the stench can linger for days. However, this is not an unlimited supply.
You might be surprised to learn that baby skunks use as little spray as possible. This is because they can only store the material needed for five or six sprays at a time. After that, they have to wait a long time before using the spray again. Typically, it takes at least ten days to regenerate the material that needs to be sprayed.
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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
What's the name of the little skunk?
Small skunks are called kits. A group of baby skunks is called a litter. Skunks share their namesake kit with many other critters, such as foxes and chinchillas.
How much does a baby skunk weigh?
When baby skunks are born, they weigh just one ounce! They are also hairless, with closed eyes and no teeth.
What do baby skunks eat?
Skunk kits are mammals, which means they can give birth live and survive on breast milk as babies. For the first two months, skunk pups drink only their mother's milk. Once weaned, they transition to an omnivorous diet. Some of the skunk's favorite foods are bees,
Where do baby skunks live?
Baby skunks live in South America and North America.
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