Skunks are nocturnal animals that live about three years. They eat a varied diet and deter predators with a pungent spray. All skunks are black and white, and there are four species in North America: the striped, spotted, hooded and hog-nosed varieties.

When threatened, skunk sprays a pungent, oily liquid that originates in the glands under the tail. The spray reaches up to 10 feet away, but other than the noxious smell that lingers for days, it is not particularly harmful. However, it is enough to turn away all but the most determined predators.

Skunks eat insects and larvae, worms, fruit, mushrooms and small animals, such as mice and frogs. They live in burrows made and abandoned by other animals, hollowed tree trunks, brush piles and abandoned man-made structures. Skunks typically do not travel more than two miles from their dens.

Skunks are typically solitary animals, foraging and nesting alone. They do not hibernate in the winter but are very inactive during those months. The need for warmth sometimes overcomes the skunk's preference for privacy; it surrounds itself with other skunks during the coldest part of the year. During mating season, which lasts from late April until June, skunks are also social. They have litters that range from one to seven young, and females produce a total of up to ten young each year.