Eastern Spotted Skunk

provided by Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife

If you didn’t already know, there are two different species of skunk inhabiting Florida’s ecosystems- the familiar Striped Skunk and the more elusive Eastern Spotted Skunk! The Eastern Spotted Skunk (Spilogale putorius) is a small, slender skunk found in North America mostly along the eastern United States and in small areas of Canada and Mexico.

The Eastern Spotted Skunk sports four broken up stripes on the back giving a spotted appearance. These skunks also have a white spot on their forehead and average between 13 and 28 inches in length. The spotted skunk is a tiny skunk, no larger than a tree squirrel.

They are nocturnal and much more active than any other species of skunk. As a communal species, their underground dens host up to eight skunks at once in the wintertime. During warmer months, they will even climb trees for shelter. The spotted skunks prefer to inhabit the edges of the forest or prarie grasslands where rocks and shrubs are in abundance. Oddly enough, wood agriculture fencing and abandoned farm buildings serve as important habitat for Eastern Spotted Skunks.

The population of Eastern Spotted Skunks, especially in Midwest states, has seen sharp declines. Though these skunks are quick to adapt to human settlement, they were commonly trapped for their pelts. Before heavily trapping the population, these skunks were often seen on farmlands as a friend to farmers. The skunks would dig burrows under the sides of barns to prey on the miced attracted to stored grains. Overall, pesticide use, moderized farming techniques, over-trapping, and consolidation of barns/man-made buildings were believed to have a negative impact on the spotted skunk populations. The spotted skunk has been almost entirely eradicated from several midwestern states, but remains common in Southern Florida despite their elusive nature.

The spotted skunks are rather secretive and it is quite rare for a human to ‘spot’ one. Differing from their relative the Striped Skunk, the Eastern Spotted Skunk adds a level of acrobatic expertise to their defense mechanism. To warn approaching predators, the spotted skunk will stomp their feet which can be heard from several feet away. If the predator does not get the hint, they will be hit with a noxious odor. When the spotted skunk sprays, they perform an impressive handstand.

On Aug. 11, an infant male Eastern Spotted Skunk (22-4150) was admitted to CROW after he was found alone in Fort Myers. Upon examination, veterinarians noted he was slightly dehydrated but otherwise healthy. Based on his condition, hospital staff suspect he was likely orphaned. He was placed in rehab under supportive care where he is being closely monitored. Our rehabilitation team will continue to raise the skunk according to our protocols while looking for another wildlife center with conspecifics (animals of the same species) in care.

THIS WEEK AT CROW (8/11-8/18):
There were 124 new patients admitted to CROW’s Wildlife Hospital including 40 Loggerhead Sea Turtle hatchlings, 13 Eastern Gray Squirrels, seven Northern Raccoons, three Red-bellied Woodpeckers, two Ospreys, two Northern Cardinals, an Eastern Spotted Skunk, and an Eastern Meadowlark. Recent Releases include 40 Loggerhead Sea Turtle hatchlings, a Great Horned Owl, a Carolina Wren, a Red-shouldered Hawk, and a Yellow-crowned Night Heron. Check out a full list of CROW’s current patients and recent releases.

Wildlife doesn’t have health insurance. Your donations help cover the costs of medical and rehabilitative care for over 5,000 patients admitted to CROW’s Wildlife Hospital each year.

Want to learn more about wildlife rehabilitation? Stop by CROW’s Visitor Education Center at 3883 Sanibel Captiva Road.

About Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW)
Established in 1968, the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) is a teaching hospital saving the sick, injured and orphaned native and migratory wildlife of Southwest Florida and beyond.  Through state-of-the-art veterinary care, public education programs and an engaging visitor center, CROW works to improve the health of the environment, humans and our animals through wildlife medicine. For more information, or to plan your visit, go to www.crowclinic.org. If you find an animal that is in need of help, call (239) 472-3644 ext. #222.

Leave a Comment

We are interested in articulate, well-informed remarks that are relevant to the article. We welcome your advice, your criticism and your unique insights into the issues of the day. To be approved for publication, your comments should be civil and avoid name-calling. It may take up to 24 hours for your comment to appear, if it is approved.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.