Animals -> Mammals -> Furbearers -> Skunk


Striped skunks were a supplemental animal food for the Southern Okanagan, Plains Ojibwa of the Mountain Turtle Band (Chippewa), Mistissini and Attawapiskat Cree and Sioux [1-5]. The animal was also reported to have been eaten by the Kalispel, Iroquois of Onondaga, Red Earth and Plains Cree and presumably the Algonquian, who hunted them [6-9]. The Micmac (Mi'kmaq) of Richibucto hunted striped skunk for its fur, and did not consume its flesh [10].

The Kalispel killed skunk by clubbing or shooting it with bow and arrow [6]. The Mistissini captured it in steel traps and shot it in the neck to cause immediate death. The scent glands were removed prior to preparation for consumption [11]. The Iroquois of Onondaga believed the flesh was beneficial for a variety of ailments; the Kalispel used the pelt to make robes [6, 9].


1.         Howard JH: The Plains Ojibwa or Bungi: Hunters and Warriors of the Northern Prairies with special reference to the Turtle Mountain Band, vol. Series: Anthropological papers (no.1). Vemilion, South Dakota: South Dakota Musem, University of South Dakota; 1965.

2.         Rogers ES: Subsistence. In: The Hunting Group-Hunting Territory Complex among the Mistassini Indians. edn. Ottawa: National Museum of Canada Bulletin No. 195; 1963: 32-53.

3.         Stene J: A nutrition study on an indian reservation. Journal of the American Dietetic Association 1928, 3(4):215-222.

4.         Rogers ES: Subsistence Areas of the Cree-Ojibwa of the Eastern Subarctic: A Preliminary Study. Contributions of Ethnology V 1967, No. 204:59-90.

5.         Post RH: The Subsistence Quest. In: The Sinkaietk or Southern Okanagan of Washington. edn. Edited by Spier L. Menasha, Wisconsin, U. S. A.: George Banta Publishing Company Agent; 1938: 11-33.

6.         Lahren SL, Jr.: Kalispel. In: Handbook of North American Indians, Volume 12: Plateau. edn. Edited by Walker DE, Jr. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution; 1998: 283-288.

7.         Meyer D: Appendix I: Plants, Animals and Climate; Appendix IV: Subsistence-Settlement Patterns. In: The Red Earth Crees, 1860-1960. Volume 1st edition, edn.: National Musem of Man Mercury Series; 1985: 175-185-200-223.

8.         Newcomb WW: North American Indians: An Anthropological Perspective. Pacific Palisades, California: Goodyear Publishing Company, Inc.; 1974.

9.         Waugh FW: Iroquois Foods and Food Preparation, vol. No. 12; Anthropological Series. Ottawa: Government Printing Bureau; 1916.

10.       Speck FG, Dexter RW: Utilization of animals and plants by the Micmac Indians of New Brunswick. Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences 1951, 41(8):250-259.

11.       Rogers ES: The Quest for Food and Furs: The Mistassini Cree, 1953-1954. Ottawa: Museums of Canada; 1973.


The striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis) is a medium-sized mammalian carnivore occurring across southern Canada, except for western British Columbia, and throughout United States up to Mexico. They are most common at the edge between open and forested habitats.

They are well-known for their bold black and white colours and for the unbearable odor they can spray when threatened. Adults typically weigh 2 kg, but striped skunks gain mass towards fall.

In the summer, they spend the day in aboveground nests, in logs or rock piles, while in the winter they den in underground burrows, sometimes with many individuals in the same refuge, but do not hibernate. During the night, they feed mostly on insects, but also on rodents, birds and their eggs, carrion, and fruits. They are generally solitary, except for mother and kits and breeding pairs. Striped skunks mate in late winter and produce one litter of up to 10 kits that are weaned after 2 months. They can live for up to 3 years and have been bred for the fur industry in the early 1900s.


Wilson DE, Ruff S: The Smithsonian book of North American mammals. Vancouver, BC: UBC Press; 1999.


Images provided below were obtained from the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History - North American Mammals. Available from
Striped skunk - typical pattern, lower left; white tail variant, upper right
Credit: painting by Consie Powell from Kays and Wilson's Mammals of North America, © Princeton University Press (2002)
Credit: Data provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Bruce Patterson, Wes Sechrest, Marcelo Tognelli, Gerardo Ceballos, The Nature Conservancy — Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International — CABS, World Wildlife Fund — US, and Environment Canada — WILDSPACE.