Like you, a lot of people are interested in what skunks do during winter and whether they hibernate, migrate, or adapt to the ever-changing weather.
Well, we’re here to answer all of those questions. So, let’s get right to it for you, then we’ll dive into more details that might interest you.
Do Skunks hibernate, migrate, or adapt? Skunks do not completely hibernate; they undergo a dormant state known as “Torpor” by reducing their body temperature and metabolism rate. In other words, this is like a lethargic sleep for a short while but will come out at night in search of food. Females get together to spend the winter, and there can be as many as 12 of them in a single hole.
During the winter grubs lay dormant in the ground munching on roots getting ready for their spring and summer metamorphoses. So these provide a readymade food source for skunks.
Other than these skunks also eat, eggs, insects, worms, snakes and other tiny animals. They will also forage for frozen berries, nuts, roots, grass, and leaves.
Wild skunks are still able to spray during these periods but their diet definitely will change. Winter does change human and animal diet and it is interesting to watch animals switch their diet to survive during these times.
Skunks might even invade your yard during the cold months seeking warmer places for shelter. You definitely don’t want wild skunks in your home because of their spray; that nasty smell does not go away from homes, even after many months.
Do Skunks Hibernate, Migrate or Adapt to Winter?
No, skunks do not hibernate and will migrate to warmer places seeking food and shelter during the cold months. This is their way of adapting and surviving the cold months.
I once stumbled upon a den of skunks with lots of them huddled against each other. I had to admit, it was quite warm.
Remember, skunks mate during February and March, with most skunk babies (young or kits) being born anywhere between April and May.
During the cold months, skunks will seek out the most convenient locations for their dens. Places with security, warmth, and easy access to water and food is top of their priority.
Sadly, your property fits the description. Skunks are able to make their dens under decks, homes, basements, woodpiles, woodshed, or any other place that provides shelter from the elemental forces.
ALSO SEE: What Do Skunks Eat for Food?
Can Skunks Hibernate All Winter?
Skunks do not hibernate all winter. Most of the time skunks remain in their cozy dens and will step out when the temperature is above 30 degrees Fahrenheit.
At the start of winter, skunks enter dormant state scientists call “Torpor”.
Torpor is a state of both physical and mental inactivity. They enter this state when the temperature drops and food availability becomes low.
Once in this state, their temperature lowers, in turn, their breathing and metabolism is reduced.
Now, this doesn’t mean they become 100% inactive like most animals do when they hibernate. Skunks only remain inactive for only a short period of time, mostly during the day.
Skunks remain in their warm dens and will only re-awaken once the temperature hits 30+ degrees Fahrenheit.
They’re able to reduce their body temperature down to about 20 degrees for short periods. This gives them the strength required to go out and look for food they require.
Skunks go out and search for food in the night during winter. However, it is not uncommon to see them out during the day.
So now let’s go into how skunks prepare themselves to survive this cold weather.
How do they Prepare for The Winter?
Unlike squirrels, skunks do not stockpile food during cold months. They like to go outside and forage for food during winter.
However, once winter is approaching, skunks focus on gaining weight. They eat as much as they can before the cold month strikes.
The additional weight provides skunks with a layer of fat. This layer of fat provides skunks with enough warmth to survive the winter.
This also gives them enough energy to step out and resist the cold while foraging for food. Usually, during winter skunks keep foraging for food until they are snowed in.
Once the temperature further drops, a skunk will use leaves, grass, and other objects to block the entryway to its burrow/den. This helps keep them safe from elements outside.
Where do Skunks Live During the Winter?
Skunks live in abandoned dens created by other animals such as woodchucks, foxes, possums, etc.
Also, they wouldn’t mind setting base in your yard if it is close to a heated home, affords them an easy hide away from predators, and has easy access to food and water.
How to Prevent Skunks from Making a Den in your Yard
Here are some preventive measures you can take to secure your yard from visits from skunks:
- Use mothballs as a repellant to keep them away. Please only use this in areas where kids or pets can’t reach.
- Have clean garbage.
- Place all refuse in a solid, air-tight container.
- Block off all entry points under your barn, patio, or garden shed with wire netting.
- Pick up all the nuts, seeds, and fruits that may have fallen on the ground.
- During fall, ensure you rake and pick up dead leaves.
- Install a motion-sensing light outdoors.
- During summer, treat your lawn against white grubs.
How To Rid A Skunk Den From Your Yard
The best way to get rid of skunks in your yard is by setting a live trap. This lets the animal be humanely trapped and relocated elsewhere it can find a new den for winter, without being a nuisance to other homeowners.
Once you’ve rid your yard of your skunk roommate, be sure to take steps to make sure they won’t be interested in returning again.
Do Pet Skunks Hibernate?
No! Pet skunks do not hibernate since the heat in homes is regulated and there is enough supply of food and water.
Pet skunks are active all through the year.
What Temperature Do Skunks Hibernate?
Anything below 30 degrees Fahrenheit.
Will Skunks Hibernate This Year?
No! During winter in Canada, Alberta, California, Ontario, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Minnesota,
Illinois, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pa, Maine, Nh, and other parts of the US, UK, Australia, and Canada.
What Month Do Skunks Hibernate?
No month! Skunks do not hibernate but become fairly inactive during the months of May to January.