The lifespan of a skunk in the wild is 2 to 4 years, although skunks in captivity have been recorded living up to 15 years. As many as 90 percent of all baby skunks die during their first winter.
The skunk's ability to admit a malodorous spray from its anal glands when threatened by predators or startled keeps it largely safe from predation. The musk it releases can be aimed with precision and distributed up to 15 feet. When it is eaten by predators, it is generally from large raptors, such as red-tailed hawks and great-horned owls. The striped skunk has the highest incidence of rabies among both wild and domestic mammals.