It's quite confusing when someone meets a Skunktaur in one form and another the next day. Some information has been given in former chapters but I'd like to delve deeper into this subject here.
Skunktaurs are in basis Hermaphrodites. Meaning they are fully male AND fully female. However, as stated, they are only in one form at a time.
When Skuntaur cubs are born, the child will always be in
male form. This, together with the initial population of Skunktaurs
rescued in the past being male, has lead to the use of a predominantly
male noun and the use of 'brother' by the Chakat.
Somehow the child is unaffected by the hormone in the mothers milk that Skunktaurs posess, it has the same effect as the Chakat-hormone; to induce Lactation in their partners, instead the child remains in male form untill their puberty.
To some this stage is reached earlier, others take longer.
When the child gains the ability to shift the parents usually host a 'coming fo age' party, something like a sweet-sixteen.
From this day on, the Skunktaur is affected by all the shifting stimuli a grown Skunktaur is affected by.
Also, though most skunktaurs a person might meet have a slight predisposition to their male forms and will spend most time in this form, the opposite is common as well. A Hermaphrodite species cannot survive if they are not comfortable with either sex they posess.
Some of the known methods by which Skunktaurs shift their gender..
The first is the easiest. Skunktaurs controll their shifting by will. It takes about 15 minutes for the transformation to complete and is completely a physical effect. Metabolism speeds up and their reserves are drastically depleted. This topic has been greatly discussed in former chapters.
Secondly a Skunktaur developes a natural rythm over time.
As hy ages, hys body will gradually settle into a cycle of genders most suited to the skunktaurs unique personality and needs. A Skunktaurs body and mind need the availability of both male and female hormones. Easiest is to illustrate with an example Zwokkie.
Zwokkie has a slight preference to hys male side. Therefore, hys body will have to change into hys female form for hym from time to time. Normally, hy will be male fo a complete hormonal cycle, reaching hys virility peak. This takes about 28-30 from hys shift into male form. During hys peak hy is 'locked' in gender. Afterwards hy automatically shifts into female (Usually within a day) and free shifting is restored soon thereafter.
In hys female form, hy will go through ovulation and come into heat in a similar timespan, again hy is 'locked' for the duration of the peak and will shift afterwards. Usually hy will shift hymself before reaching estrus, this to prevent hymself from going into heat.
If for any reason, a Skunktaur is forced to 'step out of rythm'. Not being able to shift for a long time (reasons why are legion), hys body will react. Hy will generally feel miserable and become grumpy, testy, moody or depressed. This is a reaction to hys body protesting, hy will shift involuntarily given the next oppurtunity.
Involuntary shifting is another way, albeit one that is usually irritating to skunktaurs themselves.
It is known that Chakat have a hormone in their mothers milk to stimulate their partners to lactate, this hormone is also posessed by Skunktaurs. Both species are enough physically alike to be affected by eachothers mothers milk.
To a skunktaur, however, this means hy will begin shifting to female form if hy is currently male.
A sidenote here is that a Skunktaur with child and weaning is 'locked' into female form, both for obvious reasons.
The same hormone that induces lactation suspends the need for their male side and as nursing itself stimulates further lactation, the mental and physical wellbeing of the mother is provided for.
The last form of involuntary shifting currently known is a result of a sort of 'Species Survival Instinct'.
It has occured on several occasions that a settlement of Skunktaur pioniers consisted of mostly, or all, male Skuntaurs. After a week or so, most woke up to discover themselves having shifted into female form overnight. Usually male:female ratio balanced out to 1:1.
It's quite logical for this to happen, as the species has been built for survival. You can't sirvive as a whole when there aren't enough males and females around.
The reason this happens at night has been guessed to be a precaution by their bodies; At night all physical functions are low, so there is a greater energy-buffer to employ when shifting.
A few exceptions on the rule of Skunktaur shifting have
been discovered lately, and more seem to be found every day. Since
their moving to Chakona, some Skunktaurs and Chakat have been starting
relationships. That would be no surprise. The surprise is that lately
the chidren more often than not posess signs from both species, instead
of the child conforming to the mothers.
Examples are Chakat with their Sires Mental Abilities, as well as the tell-tale pawprint in their chests.
And common with Skunktaur mothers, cubs who are fully herm at birth, but still seem to be able to change their outward appearance. Looking male or female, but haveing their gender from their Sire. ((Still, they look male untill puberty when their shifting abilities 'unlock'))