The fur of the striped skunk is coal black with a white stripe from its forehead down to its nose. A broad white stripe beginning at the base of its head forms a "V" down the sides of its back and terminates near the tail. Its bushy tail is variously white. Males are considerably larger than females. A striped skunk is about the size of a domestic cat. Total length is 21 to 30 inches (520-770 mm), tail length is 6.8 to 14 inches (170-350 mm), weight is 4 to 9 pounds (1.8-4 kg).
The striped skunk is more common throughout its range than the spotted skunk. It ranges from central Canada down through the United State to northern Mexico.
Striped skunks are found in a variety of habitat wherever there is adequate food and shelter. But, it prefers semi-open country with interspersed woodlands and meadows, brushy areas, and bottomland woods. It is frequently found in suburban areas. In Idaho, it prefers marshes, farmlands, and riparian areas in dry country. It usually is not found in dense forests nor in extremely dry areas.
Their omnivorous diet includes a variety of plant and animal foods such as insects, small mammals, eggs, carrion, fruits, etc. Half of summer diet is insects including grasshoppers, beetles and moth larvae. They sometimes eat domestic poultry and fruit in orchards. They are known to prey on bees and have been observed actually scratching on beehives and capturing bees as they leave the hive.
Striped skunks are mostly crepuscular or nocturnal, but are sometimes active during daytime. They may be dormant during extended periods of cold, snowy weather; but they do not hibernate. Several individuals, mainly females, may share a winter den. Males seem to be more active in winter. When inactive, they occupy dens under rocks, logs, or buildings; they may excavate burrows or use burrows abandoned by other mammals. Their dens are usually somewhat close to water, but always on a dry site. Home range is variable, from 0.5 to 1.5 square miles (1.3-6.5 square km); males tend to wander more than females. Population density may fluctuate greatly, occasionally reaching high densities. The species is preyed on by humans, canids, felids, mustelids and raptors. This species, like the spotted skunk, is a rabies vector. When rabid, a skunk is often out and about during the day, and unusually aggressive. If a skunk such as this is encountered, it should be avoided for obvious reasons.
Breeding occurs in mid-February through late March, with the peak occurring in mid-February. One researcher reported a pregnancy rate of 78-96%. Delayed implantation occurs as in all "weasels", total Gestation lasts 62-68 days. litter size varies from 2 to 10 young (average 6-8), and they are born in late April to early June. Females produce 1 litter per year. Young are weaned and begin to follow their mother at 6 to 7 weeks; some young are independent by fall. Individuals reach sexual maturity in their first spring.