Do skunks hibernate in the winter?
Skunks are rather unusual animals. They are friendly, amazing and funny but they also have a pretty bad reputation. The main complaint you find about skunks is the pungent weapon that they use whenever they are provoked. Skunks are quick learners and they have a sharp memory especially with issues pertaining food. This leads to more offenses and the bad reputation continues.
What happens in winter?
During summer, it is easy to know when the skunk is around but during the winter months, the animals are hard to see. They hunker down so as to wait out the snow and ice onslaught. Most birds and rodents usually hoard food so as to store for the cold months. However, the skunk spends the fall eating away as much as it possibly can. This is aimed at keeping it warm once the winter dormancy starts. The binge eating allows the creation of thick fat layers just below the skin. This is a kind of winter jacket for the skunk. It is this fat that is metabolized during the dormant rests but at a much slower rate than in the summer months.
Usually, a skunk will used different dens for the different seasons of the year. This means that the place they choose to stay in the winter isn’t the very same place used to raise the young.
Skunks are capable of creating their own burrows doe winter but they feel inclined to gain residences in the spaces that already have an owner. This means that they can find the porch or deck a very comfortable place foe winter. This is something that many humans can actually agree about.
If a skunk decides to stay away from residential spaces, they usually commandeer burrows that are dug and then deserted by other animals like foxes and woodchucks.
When it becomes colder, the skunk then prepares the den and it blocks off the entrance using grass and leaves so as to make sure that the air stays out. The skunks can burrow together so as to gain the extra warmth. Cohabiting skunks have an advantage in that they can take advantage of thermoregulation using one another to remain warm. Males also den communally at times but they don’t tolerate one another in the other seasons.
Denning happens during winter but skunks aren’t inactive. The skunk will fall dormant in the winter home that they make, but a state of hibernation isn’t achieved. Skunks don’t hibernate but are rather in a torpor state which is a deep sleep that they can awake from time to time.
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