SKUNK BIOLOGY: The Striped Skunk (Mephitis mephitis) weighs from 4-10 pounds and is 24-30 inches long. Skunks are easy to recognize with their distinct black and white coloring. The Striped Skunk has two white bands that run from the head and down each side of the back. They do not form long partnerships, and mate in late February, and young are born in May. A litter may be five or six young. They follow the mother around, and after they are a year old, they depart to live on their own. Most die during their first winter. They usually only live 2-4 years in the wild, but can live more than a dozen years in captivity.
There are other skunk species as well, such as the Eastern Spotted Skunk (Spilogale putorius) which is smaller but similar in behavior. These skunks will actually perform a handstand when spraying.
SKUNK BEHAVIOR: Skunks are mostly nocturnal, and forage at night for a variety of foods. The are omnivores, eating both plant and animal matter, but really seem to prefer insects. They sleep during the day, usually in underground dens often dug by other animals. They do not fully hibernate, but activity is very low during the winter. The often communicate via scent marking, and males will often discharge during mating season. Skunks are well-known for their defensive tactic – when threatened, they will arch their back, lift the tail, and discharge a highly odiferous liquid from special glands near the anus. This sulphurous compound is not only offensive to the nose, but it can cause temporary blindness in an attacker. Many animals avoid skunks due to this defensive tactic, and it’s actually often birds like hawks and owls that prey on skunks, since these birds lack a sense of smell.
Skunks are usually classified as a pest species due to their odor, and occasionally, digging. The most common complaints include the following:
Skunk is living under deck or porch
Skunk has sprayed in the vicinity
Skunk has sprayed a pet dog
Skunks are digging holes in yard
Skunks fell down window well/basement
For these reasons, many people wish to have this nuisance animal trapped and removed. However, trappers must take care to avoid being sprayed.
Skunks have been known to carry a variety of diseases such as:
Leptospirosis- Bacteria spread to humans and pets from contact with urine or feces
Rabies- Virus spread by biting or scratching
Intestinal Roundworm- Parasite creating intestinal issues in humans and dogs.
Distemper- Virus that can affect dogs
Canine Hepatitis- Virus that can affect dogs.
Fleas- Insects infesting cats and dogs
Give us a call today if you are dealing with nuisance Skunks. We offer Free Home Evaluations to determine the best course of action for your specific situation. Call Pest Pros at 269-993-0051