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How to Tell the Difference Between Male & Female Skunks

| Updated November 01, 2017


  • You cannot tell the difference between male and female skunks from their stripe patterns.

People usually stay away from skunks or fear them because of the association with smelly spray. However, skunks can make great pets once their scent glands have been removed. Male and female skunks are easy to tell apart, because there are clear anatomical and behavioral differences. Before you start handling a skunk, make sure it cannot spray and that it has been vaccinated against rabies to avoid unpleasant aromas or a trip to the hospital.

Observe the skunk's behavior. Male skunks tend to spend their time alone and avoid groups except during mating season in early spring. Females will travel with kittens and other females.

Compare sizes. Males can be several inches and pounds larger than female skunks.

Pay attention to the skunk's behavior. Female skunks, if not spayed, have cycles of heat or gestation in which they will eat less, lose weight, become aggressive and pace frequently.

Turn the skunk over while wearing gloves to identify its genitalia. Similar to cats and dogs, skunks have partially exposed genitals. Before being fixed, male skunks have a partially exposed red, pink or black penis between its back legs. The female's vagina may be slightly covered with fur but can be exposed by brushing the fur between the back legs aside with gloved hands.