• Size: About 40 to 80 cm long, including the tail
  • Color: Black with distinctive white stripes that vary in pattern
  • Appearance: Small stocky body, short legs, long bushy tail
  • Attraction: Available food such as insects, rodents, garbage, fallen fruits, shelters under buildings, woodpiles, or leaf piles

Appearance of Skunks

Skunks, recognizable by their black and white fur, are distinguished by a white stripe that extends from the head to the tail, crossing their back. However, this coloration can vary, with some skunks having more white than others. Of medium size, they typically measure between 40 and 80 centimeters long, including the tail. Their silhouette is stocky, with short legs and broad feet equipped with powerful claws, ideal for digging the ground in search of food.

Habitat in Quebec

In Quebec, skunks inhabit a variety of environments, from dense forests to suburban areas. They prefer locations offering easy access to food, such as gardens, parks, and areas bordering forests. Skunks are also known for their ability to adapt to urban environments, where they can be seen rummaging through trash cans for food. They generally build their burrows under porches, sheds, or in woodpiles, seeking shelter close to food sources.


Skunks are primarily nocturnal and solitary, except during the breeding season. They are omnivores, feeding on a wide variety of foods ranging from insects and small mammals to fruits and human waste. The most notorious behavior of skunks is their defense mechanism: when threatened, they spray a foul-smelling liquid from glands located under their tail. This substance, difficult to eliminate, serves as an effective warning against predators. Despite their reputation, skunks only spray when they feel threatened and after several warning signals, such as foot tapping and tail lifting.

Distinguishing Skunks from Other Animals



Skunks differ from raccoons in several characteristics. First, raccoons are generally larger and have a characteristic black facial mask, unlike skunks. The raccoon’s fur is also more grayish with more evident stripes on the tail. Regarding droppings, raccoon droppings are often larger and contain visible remains of food, such as pieces of fruit or insect remains, reflecting their varied omnivorous diet.



The groundhog, much larger than the skunk, is recognized by its robust build and brown fur. It has a shorter tail and different behavior, being diurnal and preferring rocky areas or open fields. Groundhog droppings are larger and more elongated compared to those of the skunk and can often be found near their burrow.

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