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It's mating season, and you might notice the sudden emergence of skunks. They mate from February to March. The skunk’s Latin name “mephitis” translates to “noxious gas.” Skunks are mostly known for their foul, pungent smell. North American skunks usually have distinct black and white markings and long claws used for digging. Striped skunks display two outward-bowing, thick stripes along their backs, which join together near their tails, and white patches on their heads. Striped skunks weigh between 4 and 10 pounds and measure approximately 25 inches lengthwise.
Skunks are mostly nocturnal and prefer to live in open areas such as prairies, pastures, and forest edges. The animals are capable of surviving in most climates. During winter seasons, skunks rely on fat stores for continued nourishment and remain holed up in dens for several consecutive days or weeks.
Nourishment available in areas of human activity compels skunks to live under buildings, decks, and patios. The omnivorous mammals eat just about anything, including rodents, garden vegetation, grubs, and other insects, and venture into trash bins for leftover food. They may also break into chicken coops to steal eggs or hatchlings.
Do skunks harm people or property?
Sprayed from the anal glands, skunk secretions cause horrible odors and temporary blindness and can hit predators and people up to 10 feet away. Although skunks are mostly detested for their odor, they also damage landscapes, plants, and structures when they dig for food. One of the most common carriers of rabies, skunks are also known transmitters of canine distemper, hepatitis, tularemia, and Q-fever.
While control methods, like erecting fences, help keep skunks away, more effort is often necessary to seriously reduce the possibility of infestation. Ensure skunks cannot get under building foundations by sealing openings with mesh wire. Individuals can also attempt to limit food and water availability. To start, secure trash bins, limit rodent populations, and block entry to pet and livestock feeds. Keeping landscapes free of debris, such as overgrown shrubs and firewood piles, also deters skunk presence.
Homeowners risk the possibility of being sprayed when they approach skunks. Mishandling can also lead to bites, which require immediate professional medical attention. So, instead of attempting removal, property owners should call The Critter Chicks. We can safely and humanely remove the animals and relocate them to a new area free from the hustle and bustle of human life.