The Possum Pages: Frequently Asked Questions (2023)

In the years since this site started, I've received a large number of emails with various questions about Skunks. Many of them are the same, and to save time writing multiple answers, I've listed some of the most common questions below. Please read this page before emailing your request. If you have a question that isn't listed here, don't hesitate to write and ask. I'm not a zoologist or animal expert, but I'll do my best to respond to any serious inquiry. Please be patient as “Possum Pages is just one of my many projects. Thanks!

Are a skunk and a skunk the same?

Yes and no. Across America, the skunk is often colloquially referred to as aSkunk(like some people refer to a potato as onetateror a mosquito like aSkeeter), but his real name isSkunk.When we refer to him by his colloquial name on this site, we usually add an apostrophe at the beginning to indicate the omission of the first letter.Ö:'Skunk.But there really is an animal called a possum (no initialÖ), which differs significantly from the North American opossum. The true Skunk is native to Australia and closely resembles the American strain. You can see pictures of the Australian possumon here, and there are also links to other skunk sites on ourspage with links.

What do possums eat?

Possums are not picky eaters and will eat almost anything, including leftovers and carrion. However, they seem to have a particular fondness for cat food, especially canned food. Their normal diet consists of carrion, rodents, insects, frogs, and plants, including fruits and grains.

How big can a skunk get?

Most are about the size of a large house cat, 15 to 20 inches long. They typically weigh 10 to 13 pounds. However, this can vary, just as height and weight vary among people. Some well-fed skunks can appear huge, especially if they startle you on a night walk.

Are Possums Dangerous to Pets?

Possums will sometimes attempt to eat small creatures such as mice, reptiles, amphibians, and even young kittens when other food is scarce. They will leave most larger animals alone and are actually more likely to be injured by an adult dog or cat than inflict injury on them. They will rarely fight, although when threatened they will make a fearsome display and will likely just attempt to flee or play dead. The only animals that should avoid contact with skunks are birds, horses, and sea otters. Strange as it may seem, when these animals ingest skunk feces, they are at high risk of contracting a deadly disease known asSarcocistose🇧🇷 (If you suspect a skunk has entered a horse stable, look for signs of its droppings. You can find a photo of skunk droppings by clicking on iton here.)

Fish are disappearing from my pond. Is a skunk responsible?

It's unlikely. Possums are quite lazy and will always seek out readily available food whenever possible. It is usually not diligent enough to catch fish or attempt to attack an animal that might fight back. The disappearance of fish or chickens is most likely due to a raccoon, fox or badger. If you see a skunk eating your fish, it's likely found the remains left by another creature on the shore.

Recently I have seen several holes in my garden. Is this the work of skunks?


No, skunks don't dig. They often inhabit holes created by other animals, but they are not miners themselves. If you have holes in your yard, keep an eye out for armadillos, moles, marmots, or other burrowing creatures.

I live in a big city. Was that really a skunk I saw in my trash can?

It might as well have been a skunk. Possums have not restricted their range to rural areas and are increasingly found in densely populated urban settings. (I've even had reports of sightings from Brooklyn and Toronto.)

Last night I saw a skunk on a high fence. Can they jump or climb?

They can't jump, but they are excellent climbers. One should never expect to keep a skunk out of a yard with a bare fence. With their opposable thumbs and prehensile tail, they can overcome almost any obstacle.

Possums are nocturnal but I saw one during the day. That is normal?

Possums are generally nocturnal and forage during the night. But it's not uncommon to see a skunk during the day, especially in cold weather. They can also be seen during the day when food is scarce or when they are disturbed in their roosting quarters. During the winter months, many skunks change their overnight feeding habits to try to take advantage of the warmer weather during the hours of sunshine.

Do possums transmit rabies?

Unlike most wild animals, skunks are highly resistant to rabies. It is extremely rare to come across a rabid skunk, although it is advisable to seek immediate medical attention if you are bitten or scratched by one. Any skunk behaving in such an unusual manner should be considered rabid.

Are possums immune to rattlesnake and copperhead bites?

Yes, they are highly resistant to snakebite, likely due to their low body temperature and metabolic rate.

(Video) Sibling wars!

What are male and female opossums called?

Male possums are calledmonkeys,and the females are calledjils.(Sound familiar?) Young people are referred to asjoeys,as well as their Australian cousins. A group of possums is called aPassport.

What sounds does a skunk make?

Skunks are very calm creatures. You're much more likely to see one long before you hear any sounds from it. When threatened, they often hiss like a cat and may emit a low growl. Some have reported hearing skunks purr softly to their young, though I've never been so privileged. One person wrote to me that they once heard a young possum meowing like a kitten, but it is the only such report I have received.

How many babies does a possum have in each litter?

As with most mammals, numbers vary, but generally opossums give birth to between 6 and 25 pups one to three times a year, usually between January and July. Most litters consist of 6 to 9 puppies. Of these, no more than 13 survive as the mother only has 13 beaks to feed them. Each joey will latch on to a teat, and those that don't get a place in their mother's pouch will starve and die.

The Possum Pages: Frequently Asked Questions (1)
Photo courtesy of Berta & Alex Gilholm, St. Petersburg, FL. Used with permission.

Do skunks really mate through their noses?

This is a myth that has been around for a long time and is so widespread that I've actually seen quite a few websites about skunks claiming this as fact. The truth is, there's no truth to it. The crazy idea seems to have come about because the male skunk has a bipartite (forked) penis and the only corresponding parts in the female seem to be the nostrils. The myth goes that after mating, the female sneezes the tiny fetuses into her pouch through her nose. Rather than imply what a unique animal the skunk is, this story actually just reveals how bizarre some people are in what they can imagine! In reality, the male has a bipartite penis because the female has two wombs (wombs) and sperm is deposited in each womb during copulation. But mating takes place through the vagina, not the nose.

I've heard skunks are deaf and/or blind. That's right?

Do not. Neither eyesight nor hearing are particularly keen, but they can see and hear.

(Video) All Things Possums! Stuart the Possum Ambassador.

What should I do with an injured skunk?

It's best to call a local veterinarian or animal inspector. Although skunks are rarely aggressive, any injured animal in pain can react unpredictably and should only be treated by an expert.

What should I do with an orphaned baby skunk?

Again, it's best to ask a local veterinarian or animal control officer for help. Also, try to find a rehabilitator in your area who has experience caring for orphaned animals. If you need to do the rehab yourself and aren't sure what to do, find a rehabilitator near you by accessing the following directories:

Wildlife Rehabilitation by State (Letters A-M)
Wildlife Rehabilitation by State (Letters N-W)
If you cannot find a rehabilitator in the directories above, please contact one of the following experienced rehabilitators who belong to the Imperial Order of the Possum:
    &bala;Lorna Buffum(Rode Island)
    &bala;Laura Burdet(Texas)
    &bala;Maria Kalford(You have)
Also, check with your local library to see if they have the book.I found a baby skunk, what should I do?by Dale Bick Carlson. If they don't have it, they can probably get it through interlibrary loan. You can also find copies by🇧🇷 Although it is out of print, it is an excellent resource for those wishing to rehabilitate an orphaned possum.

How do I get rid of a pesky skunk?

First it isoh noneeded to kill the animal. The gentlest way to remove a skunk is to set a Have-A-Heart trap with canned cat food bait. These are harmless traps that can be found at many hardware or land supply stores or some rental shops. Once caught, the opossum can be taken to a secluded area and released. But even that isn't usually necessary, as skunks are transient animals that typically only stay in a given area for a few days and then move on. The best way to avoid being bothered by a skunk is to simply make sure there is no food available for them. Don't leave pet food or leftover food behind and make sure your bins are completely closed. With no food available in their garden, they will simply look elsewhere.

A skunk came into my house through the back door. how to remove it

If you don't have time to call animal welfare, you can persuade them with a broom. Try not to hurt the animal, just try to goad it. Sometimes they can get quite stubborn and hide under a table or sofa, looking very creepy when they show their 50 teeth. I once removed a skunk from a neighbor's house by gently picking it up by the tail but wearing thick gloves. Possums don't usually bite, but they can if given the opportunity. It is difficult for them when held by the tail to curl up far enough to reach the owner's hand, but this is not a method I would recommend for a beginner. If possible, leave the door open for a while, maybe with some cat food on the doorstep, and see if he comes out on his own. If it's cold you may have to wait a long time. An animal control officer is your best bet if you're anxious for him to leave.

Are skunks good pets?

Generally no. But there are exceptions. Animals are like humans in the sense that no two are alike. Some people have kept skunks as pets and greatly enjoyed their company. Typically, the best pets are those that are rescued when they are very young. An adult opossum rarely adapts well to captivity. As a general rule, however, keeping skunks as pets is not recommended. You should also check local and state or provincial laws to make sure it's legal in your area before attempting this.

Where can I buy a skunk?

(Video) S3E71 “How do I prep for an airline interview?” Capt. Bill “Possum” Sims

The only place I know that sells pet skunks isIlluminated farmsby Marshall, Ind.*But remember that it is illegal in some states to buy, sell, or hold skunks. You should always check your local laws before purchasing a skunk. I don't know anyone who sells possum meat, but believe it or not, an eastern meat wholesaler once wrote to me asking where he could buy quantities of possum to import into his country! I couldn't find any legal source for skunk meat in the US.

How far north do possums occur?

The range of the opossum seems to be constantly expanding. They are found in almost every US state (except for some arid regions), parts of Mexico, and several Canadian provinces (including far north Toronto). They also inhabit urban and rural areas. It seems that its extensibility is almost unlimited.

What are skunks' natural enemies?

Many animals will happily ignore the gentle skunk, and there have been many reports of house cats befriending neighborhood skunks. However, their natural enemies include foxes, coyotes, dogs, lynx and owls. But even more than these natural predators, their number one enemy in the modern world is the automobile.

Do possums hibernate in winter?

Possums do not hibernate. Their biggest challenge in winter, especially in colder climates, is simply surviving. Opossums often change their feeding habits during the winter, going during the day when it's warmer, rather than at night. It is not uncommon for skunks to suffer frostbite in northern regions during extremely cold periods. Their tails are particularly vulnerable to frostbite as they lack a fur trim to protect them. Possums sometimes move into basements or garages to escape the cold. The only way to avoid this is to make sure all openings are completely covered.

Did possums really write the poems on your poem page?

Naturally. These poems are presented only as a form of light-hearted entertainment, although perhaps if they could actually write they would compose poems similar to those found there.

Do you have recipes for cooking possum?

If I had it, I wouldn't give it to you. Although some people eat skunk (they say it tastes a lot like pork), I just don't agree with the idea. A word of caution, however, for those who insist on making the animal a meal: opossums should not be simply killed and eaten, as they sometimes eat carrion. Instead, they should be captured and fed table scraps and other clean foods until the carrion is gone from their system. Also remember that a small group of renegade possums have been known to seek out humans who have eaten their compatriots and besieged their residence. Armed with rudimentary but efficient crossbows, they can shoot arrows through car tires or capture and hold criminals' pets hostage.

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* Please note that several complaints regarding Brighten Farms have been filed with the Indiana Attorney General's Office. I do not know the outcome of these complaints or whether they are justified. I'm just stressingcaveat emptor.

For questions not covered here, or for comments and corrections above,Contacti can burst

Copyright © 1998-2007 byJohn Kraton.


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