Husbandry, overwinter care, and reproduction of captive striped skunks

Source: Zoo Biology, Vol 24, issue 1, 2005
The striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis) is the focus of research interest for a variety of reasons, including its roles as a rabies reservoir, urban pest, predator of bird eggs, and parasite host.
Some research programmes may require husbandry and breeding of captive animals, and because skunks are inactive in the winter in northern environments, special methods are needed to maintain the animals over winter. We report on the establishment of a colony of striped skunks kept in captivity in the northern part of their range. Our goals were to develop simple and effective methods to keep skunks in captivity over winter, and successfully breed skunks in a manner that resembles conditions in the wild. In the spring of 2002, three wild-caught, pregnant females gave birth in captivity (mean litter size=7). During the first year, 11 of 12 females kept in captivity over winter reproduced successfully in the spring of 2003, with a mean litter size of 5.5 (range=4-8, n=11). In the summer of 2003, 91 of 93 juveniles (97.9%) survived >60 days past weaning. Our high survival and reproduction rates testify to the success of this program, and provide insights into the husbandry of a species that is inactive during winter.

Title: Husbandry, overwinter care, and reproduction of captive striped skunks (Mephitis mephitis)

Authors: Serge Larivière, Yeen Ten Hwang, Wanda A. Gorsuch, Sarah A. Medill