In colder climates the striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis) fattens up in the late summer and fall. Then during bitter weather it can remain in its den for weeks at a time without eating or drinking. It awakens easily and when the winter weather moderates and there is not snow on the ground, the striped skunk will break its “winter sleep”, a dormant condition, not a state of true hibernation.
For years striped skunks have lived and raised families under the bunk house right outside our front door. They wander about our yard during the night and at dusk and dawn. Leonard and I, our cats and the skunks have managed to peacefully co-exist without any odoriferous incidents.
I feed our outdoor cats twice a day and then bring the food inside so wild critters do not have a smorgasbord. Sometimes I do not bring the kitty bowls inside quickly enough and a skunk or skunks will help themselves. Since this has been a mild winter the skunks have not been dormant and are anxious for a handout.
These pictures of a skunk eating cat food were taken on our back porch with a point and shoot camera. Thus they are a bit fuzzy. I was standing on the porch about seven feet from the skunk and it was not at all concerned by my presence. (The upraised tail was not a warning because “our” skunks often walk around with their tails up.) After taking the picture I gently “shooed” the skunk away. It did not want to leave its free meal but did not protest either. Seeing our skunks is another benefit of a mild winter.