The striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis) is a skunk of the genus Mephitis that occurs across much of North America, including southern Canada, the United States, and northern Mexico. It is currently listed as least concern by the IUCN on account of its wide range and ability to adapt to human-modified environments.
Striped skunks are polygamous omnivores with few natural predators, save for birds of prey. Like all skunks, they possess highly developed musk-filled scent glands to ward off predators. They have a long history of association with humans, having been trapped and captively bred for their fur and kept as pets. The striped skunk is one of the most recognizable of North America's animals, and is a popular figure in cartoons and children's books.
The earliest fossil finds attributable to Mephitis were found in the Broadwater site in Nebraska, dating back to the early Pleistocene less than 1.8 million years ago. By the late Pleistocene (70,000–14,500 years ago), the striped skunk was widely distributed throughout the southern United States, and it expanded northwards and westwards by the Holocene (10,000–4,500 years ago) following the retreat of the Wisconsin glacier.
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Striped Skunks are native to South America and live in a variety of habitats including woodlands, grasslands and agricultural land.
Omnivores by nature, Striped Skunks eat insects, rodents, nuts and grain.
The Striped Skunk is the heaviest of the skunk species and is the size of a house cat. They are characterized by their thick black fur and single white stripe running each side of the body, joining at the nape of the neck.