The skunk belongs to the mustelid family, all of whose members have developed secretory glands that give off a musky odour. However, this characteristic is particularly marked in the skunk, which can eject a foul-smelling liquid to defend itself, hence its colloquial nickname "stinking beast". In fact, its scientific name, the Latin word mephitis, means "foul-smelling".
The skunk is undeniably omnivorous (it eats a wide variety of foods). It feeds on insects, mice, shrews, ground squirrels, baby rabbits, bird eggs and various plants. In autumn and winter, its diet is, in roughly equal proportions, meaty and vegetarian; in summer it is mostly made up of insects. Skunks are particularly fond of grasshoppers, crickets and insect larvae, such as grubs, legionnaires and cutworms. They even eat wasps and bees, which they kill with their front legs. Although they annoy farmers with their intrusions into chicken coops and hives, it is estimated that almost 70% of their diet is made up of organisms harmful to humans and only 5% of their food is taken from food useful to them.
The striped skunk is one of the most useful small mammals among those who inhabit regions of Canada where farms, meadows and forests alternate. , Unlike many other animals, it has adapted well to the presence of humans, and its range is much wider than it was originally.
Skunks mate in late February or March when they emerge from their burrow; pups are usually born in early May. The litter is generally four to six young, although it can vary from two to sixteen.