The striped skunk is another common animal that can be seen and smelled everywhere from hardwood tree stands to wooded stream and river sides throughout the boreal forest. A nocturnal creature, the skunk hunts at night, looking for insects, fruits, berries, small mammals, and amphibians to satisfy its omnivorous cravings. While not a creature that hibernates in the winter, skunks tend to be less active in the winter months, and spend most of their time in underground dens. The most notable aspect of a skunk is its defensive spray, a sulphurous musk that if sprayed in the eyes can cause severe irritation.
Northwest Aboriginal Peoples applied skunks in a number of medicinal uses. Oil taken from a skunk’s scent glands could be mixed with water and applied to gums to relieve toothache. This same mixture could be applied to itchy skin as a relief, or rubbed on a person’s chest to soothe chest pain. Skunk musk mixed with water was used to relieve sore throats.
Skunk hide was believed by some Aboriginal People to ward off illness, and skunk hides were mounted on a house or on a nearby tree to act in this fashion.