Time To Be On The Lookout For Skunks in Illinois
It was around this time last year that my dog Lucy had her first encounter with a skunk during mating season--and it did not end well for Lucy. After 5 or so treatments with skunk smell removing solution, Lucy began to be a bit more tolerable to be around. She'll be delighted to know that the skunks are back and very active.
According to the University of Illinois Extension, we're just at the tail end of skunk mating season, which takes place from mid-February to mid-April, meaning that amorous skunks are out and about, and baby skunks (called "kits") will be coming along starting in early May. As to where in Illinois you can find them--try everywhere:
Skunks are habitat generalists. They are found along habitat edges near a source of water. Skunks may be found near woodlands, along fence rows, in agricultural areas, and in urban environments such as lawns, cemeteries, and golf courses. They use abandoned woodchuck, muskrat, fox, or badger burrows, but often rest above ground during the warmer months. They also will use stumps, buildings, or rock or brush piles as den sites. Summer home ranges of 83 to 1860 acres have been reported for skunks in Illinois. Winter home ranges tend to be smaller than summer home ranges since skunks typically stay close to their den. The size of a skunk's home range will vary based on the amount of food and shelter available in the area.
In the food department, skunks are pretty cool with just about everything:
Skunks are omnivores (eat plant and animal material). They prefer to eat insects, particularly grasshoppers, beetles, and crickets. They also eat grubs and other insect larvae, and bees and wasps. When the opportunity arises they will take mice, rats, moles, shrews, young ground squirrels and rabbits, nesting birds, nestlings, and bird or snake eggs. Skunks also eat corn, berries, and other vegetation. In an urban environment, they may eat garbage or pet food.
Or, as YouTuber Violetta Talley of South Elgin discovered, they seem to dig ice cream treats like McDonald's McFlurry:
Talley said she was worried about the creature's safety because the office complex in Kane County was opening for the day and cars were starting to come into the parking lot.
"Poor skunk got his head stuck in a McDonalds McFlurry cup and completely unaware of where he was going. I eventually found the courage to grab the cup off of his head and he ran away from me without spraying!" she wrote.
Skunks also seem to like yogurt, too:
And soft drinks:
Oh, and here's a dog getting the same treatment from a skunk that my dog Lucy got: