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AGFC Seeking Information on Spotted Skunks

What type of skunks do we have in Arkansas?
Striped and spotted skunk. The striped skunk is the most common and seen statewide from urban to rural areas. Spotted skunks (sometimes called civet or civet cats) are smaller and less is known about them. We’re looking for volunteers to help us learn more about their population in Arkansas.

How can volunteers help learn more about spotted skunks?
We are looking for people interested in using their own game cameras as part of a study to determine where spotted skunk live in Arkansas. Participants will be given directions on how to place the cameras and the best bait to use to attract spotted skunks. The cameras should be out for at least 21 nights with the volunteer checking the site and downloading photos on a weekly basis. Participants will need to have permission of the landowner to place game cameras, own at least one game camera and preferably possess a GPS unit or other method with which the geographic coordinates of the camera sites can be obtained. Participants will need to complete application that will be sent to them after submission of contact information using this link: survey.agfc.com

How do I identify a spotted skunk?
A striped skunk is the size of an average house cat, while the smaller spotted skunk is squirrel-sized. Spotted skunk are black with a white patch on their forehead, a white patch in front of each ear, and blotches of white on their body. It has a long bushy tail tipped in white. When agitated, they do a rapid series of handstands and flair out the fur on their tail as a warning.

Where do they live?
This little carnivore is found in the Great Plains and the southeastern United States ranging up the Appalachian Mountains to Pennsylvania. While never abundant in Arkansas, it was once found across the state but is now observed primarily in the Ozarks and Ouachitas. They were common up until the 1940s, but their population crashed. The cause of the decline hasn’t been determined, but possible explanations include loss of farm and fencerow habitat that had been commonly utilized by this species, pesticides, and disease.

What is their preferred habitat?
They live in open fields, prairies, croplands, farmyards, forest edges and woodlands. They prefer rocky outcrops and ledges where natural rock cavities and crevices provide shelter and den sites.
Mainly nocturnal, it feeds upon small mammals, insects, birds, fruits, nuts and small lizards and snakes. They are agile climbers and can run up and down trees like a squirrel, which enable them to eat fruits and songbird nestlings and eggs. Their main diet of mice shifts to insects and grubs in the summer, making them beneficial creatures to have around. They help limit populations of rabbits and other rapidly reproducing small mammals.