Unlike many wild mammals in our area, the skunk does not enter hibernation. Instead, they enter a torpor, a type of deep slumber to which they awaken from time to time. These periods of activity include foraging when possible, and fortifying the burrow to keep it warm. Skunks will try to reduce the amount of energy usage during this time to keep warm.
While skunks tend to hide out and sleep more during the winter, they are much more active than raccoons or squirrels. Instead of hiding or hoarding food, skunks bulk up in the months before the cold, building up a layer of thick fat. This fat will keep them warm for the winter. If food is scarce, or the snow piles up, they metabolize the fat and forgo eating. Skunks may still be active around your home if it becomes warm enough, or if there is little to no snow. While they are out, a skunk will continue to eat and bulk up through the winter when the chance to feast arises. Trash can be a steady source of food for the omnivorous skunks, who are not very picky.
While male skunks are generally solitary creatures, many female skunks will often make a den together during torpor for warmth. Occasionally males will also join these burrows in especially cold winters.
Some skunks will attempt to spend their torpor inside a man-made structure. Sheds, crawl spaces, and basements can be common hideouts for skunks, who may try to take advantage of the windproof structures. They can also burrow under decks, patios, and even the foundation of the house if needed.
We specialize in the humane removal of raccoons, rats, squirrels, and other pests in the New York/New Jersey area. For a complete inspection and evaluation please contact us or call us at 718-227-7227 and we will be happy to make an appointment at your convenience.