It's mid-February, and love is in the air...at least if one is a striped skunk. And, if the rest of us keep our proper distance, that will only be the only thing in the air. Think you have a nose for skunk facts? Earn your stripes with this quiz.
1. The striped skunk gets its common name from the Algonquian "seganku." Its Latin name is Mephitis mephitis. What does mephitis mean?
A. Black & white
B. Noxious stench
C. Odorous cat
D. Tail raiser
2. The skunk is related to which of these animals?
3. Striped skunks are active year-round in the South and go into semi-hibernation in the North, coming out on warm winter days. Which of these is not a winter den site?
A. Abandoned groundhog burrow
B. Below the deck of a home
C. Cavity up in a tree
D. Hollow log
4. As a rule, skunks are solitary creatures, except for when they hole up in the den for the winter, where up to up to 10 skunks may be found in one burrow. How many males are found in a group den?
A. None, males are always solitary
B. Never more than one
C. About 50 percent
D. It varies from den to den
5. Skunks occasionally share the same-but separate parts-of a burrow with other creatures. Which of these has not been found in the same burrow as a skunk?
6. Most predators steer clear of the striped skunk, except for one. Which predator is it?
C. Great horned owl
D. Peregrine falcon
7. The skunk's strong front feet and sharp front claws make the animal a good:
8. Depending on weather conditions, the scent of a skunk's spray can waft about a mile. What is the usual range of a "direct hit?" (Bystanders are advised to stay at least an additional 5 feet beyond this range.)
A. About 5 feet
B. About 10 feet
C. About 15 feet
D. About 20 feet
9. Spraying is a skunk's last line of defense. Which of these actions will the animal use to ward off what it perceives as a danger before using its spray?
A. Hunch its back
B. Shuffle backward while lifting its tail
C. Stamp its front feet
D. All of the above
10. A skunk is able to spray two to three times in succession. After this, how long will it take for the skunk to recharge its musk?
A. About 5 minutes
B. About half an hour
C. About 6 hours
D. About 24 hours
11. In the winter, the skunk, an omnivore, will eat whatever it can get: apples, berries, nuts, seeds carrion, garbage, mice, frogs. Spring through fall, its diet consists mainly of insects. What percentage of these insects are considered pests by humans?
A. 50 percent
B. 70 percent
C. 90 percent
D. 100 percent
12. Young skunks aren't able to spray until they are 25 days old. Why should they still be approached with caution.
A. They have unusually sharp baby teeth.
B. They don't leave the den until they are 2 months old.
C. Do you know how to accurately tell the age of a skunk?
D. Mama might be around.
1. B Noxious stench 2. C. Weasels 3. C. Cavity up in a tree 4. B. Never more than one 5. C. Raccoons 6. C. Great Horned Owl 7. B Digger 8. C. About 15 feet 9. D All of the above 10. B About half an hour 11. B 70 percent 10. B They don't leave the den until they are 2 months old. (Answers C& D display common sense; give yourself half credit.)