We examined den-site selection patterns for western spotted skunks (Spilogale gracilis) and striped skunks (Mephitis mephitis) co-occurring in mesquite brushland of Tom Green County, Texas. Sixteen S. gracilis and 14 M. mephitis were radiocollared to locate den sites from October 2001 through June 2003. Characteristics of dens were assessed using 23 habitat variables. S. gracilis favored den sites with dense mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa), shrubs, and cacti (Opuntia), whereas M. mephitis used these areas but also more open habitats. Den habitats of S. gracilis were more uniform than were those of M. mephitis, implying that S. gracilis is more specialized in den-site selection. Both species used multiple den sites, both above and below ground, rather than a primary den. Aboveground denning occurred year-round for both species. For S. gracilis, 56% (n = 60) of dens were above ground, but denning was more common above ground in the spring and summer. Aboveground denning was more common than belowground denning for M. mephitis in all seasons, representing 64% (n = 50) of all dens. Den habitat analysis suggests that S. gracilis, unlike M. mephitis, may be limited to areas with sufficient cover, including prickly pear cactus, for denning.
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