Spilogale putorius- the Eastern Spotted Skunk



Reproduction and Life History


The main forms of reproduction of every organism are that of sexual or asexual reproduction. Spilogale putorius, also known more commonly as the spotted skunk, reproduces entirely by modes of sexual reproduction. There are male and female organisms in the population, both are required, they must come together, and from fertilization, can produce offspring. In the gametic life cycle, meiosis is always present and the formation of gametes takes place. From there, those gametes fuse together to create a diploid zygote, which then grows on its own through mitosis and the creation of two identical daughter cells, thus maturing the organism. This is the life cycle of the Spilogale putorius. life cycle

Seasons can have a very large effect on the reproducibility of the organism, this seasonal pattern was observed very clearly in the spotted skunks (Greensid and Mead 1973).  The spotted skunk was found to ovulate spontaneously. There are cycles in the seasons that favor ovulation and include a time when most skunks are in heat, but the release of eggs from the ovaries is spontaneous during this time frame.

Most cycles for females begin in early September and can continue on through the middle of January (Greensid and Mead 1973). The cycle time and the duration between cycles was found to be variable as well. The majority of the mating occurs during the month of October. Males of this species tend to limit the reproduction mechanisms as it was found that males were almost completely void of any sperm during the months of February through August, drastically decreasing any chance that an abnormal female still in an ovulation cycle would be fertilized. This, however, is a very rare case and would include a female having a second litter (Greensid and Mead 1973, Bradley 1997). baby

Delayed implantation is seen in most spotted skunks, in which a fertilized egg does not imbed into the uterus wall for a period of time, making this a notable characteristic of the Spilogale putorius reproduction cycle (Bradley 1997).

Litter sizes can range from 2- 9 offspring; however, one study found that the average number of offspring was a little over 3, with a ratio of approximately 2 males to every 1 female offspring (Foresman and Mead 1973). Sexual reproduction gives the great advantage of the possibility of gene recombination. The very noticeable black and white markings of the spunk is visible upon birth, though the kit is blind and must rely heavily on its mother to care for it. Offspring reach adult maturity between the ages of 9 months to a year, and then can begin to mate and reproduce on their own (Greensid and Mead 1973). The size of the litter, being that it is usually more then one, is very helpful in the survival of the species. sp     

These high reproductive rates help counteract the sometimes low rate of survival among the Spilogale putorius (Lesmeister et al. 2010). Skunks reproduce very similarly to animals that one may come into contact frequently, making the life history just a little easier to grasp.

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