Skunks are generally 20-32 inches long with short legs and an unusual gait. They are known for their bushy tails and black and white stripes although species differ in their markings. Here are a few other ways skunks make their presence known.
Canada has two skunk species — the striped skunk and the western spotted skunk. The striped skunk ranges across the entire country. You will only find the western spotted skunk in southwestern British Columbia.
Skunks are not aggressive towards people and are beneficial. Skunks are omnivores. It has been estimated 70% of a skunk’s diet is beneficial to people. In the summer insects like grasshoppers, crickets, and grubs make up most of their diet.
Skunks become a problem on your property when their dens undermine the structure of your property or if you, your family, or your property is getting sprayed.
There are several ways to identify the presence of a skunk on your property. The most obvious way to identify a skunk is by seeing it. The skunk odor is another obvious sign. Our inspectors also look for skunk burrows, dens, and tracks.
Skunk Trapping and Removal
We use live traps to catch skunks. We avoid using leg hold traps or conibear traps. Generally, skunk repellents are ineffective at long-term skunk control.
Exclusion and Repair
The best way to reduce the chances of incurring a skunk infestation is to modify your home and yard. Secure trash cans, remove pet food from outdoor areas and carefully monitor the amount of moisture around the home, as skunks eat insects and grubs that thrive in moist settings. Homeowners should also attempt to close off possible denning sites, such as under porches or sheds. Keeping pets indoors at night helps prevent accidental spraying.
Signs of Skunks
There are several ways to identify the presence of a skunk on your property. The most obvious way to identify a skunk is by seeing it. The second most obvious sign is the odor from its spray. Skunks are most active at night so you will probably notice other evidence of skunks on your property. You could hear a skunk that has made a den under your porch. You might notice skunk feces or tracks. Finally, skunk burrows and holes are a clear sign of skunks.
Skunk Sounds & Noises
Skunks are generally quiet, but they do growl, squeal, hiss, and stomp. Skunks typically use these sounds to signal distress. A pregnant skunk will use these sounds to warn approaching males. Homeowners might hear the tapping or scratching of skunk claws at night because the animals are nocturnal.
They can squeal, hiss, screech, whimper, grumble, smack their lips, and stomp loudly. These noises are used to communicate fear, pain, contentedness, or to intimidate predators. Skunks hiss as a warning before they spray.
Skunks are most active at night. Skunks have long claws so you may hear tapping, scratching, tearing, or rustling.
Another sign is a skunk burrow. Their burrows are often found under buildings, sheds, porches, decks, and even concrete foundations. Dens and tunnels built by skunks are marked by freshly excavated dirt and a strong odor. Holes dug by skunks for food are shallower and just a couple of inches in diameter.
Skunks leave distinct tracks in dirt, mud, and snow. Skunks have five toes on each foot and claws that extend from each toe. The claws make deep tracks on the forefeet and differentiate skunk tracks from that of the common house cat, which can retract their claws. The hindfoot leaves the mark of a heel pad that is usually between two and two-and-a-half inches.
Skunk feces typically measures around half an inch in diameter and between one and two inches in length. Often compared to cat feces, skunk droppings can take on slightly different colors and shapes depending on the weather, the contents of their meals, and the length of time from the initial deposit. Skunk feces generally contains bits of undigested insects, berry seeds, fur, or feathers. Skunk feces can appear similar to raccoon feces but is typically smaller.
Skunks can damage your property by digging and burrowing under structures. They are vectors of diseases like rabies.
The skunk spray is the most well-known skunk danger. The odor left from a skunk’s spray is extremely difficult to get rid of and can damage furniture, flooring, and paint. Skunks use their spray as a last line of defense against predators. The spray’s intensely pungent odor comes from thiol, a chemical compound mainly composed of sulfur and hydrogen.
Skunks are capable of accurately spraying up to 12 feet. The spray is intended to give a skunk cover to escape, but it is not lethal unless ingested in abnormally high doses. If you or your pet is sprayed, it may cause eye irritation, nausea, or vomiting.
Skunk Property Damage
Skunks can damage your property by digging. Skunks will build burrows and tunnels under buildings, sheds, decks, and concrete foundations. These burrows can threaten the structural integrity of homes and businesses, but they also can provide access inside.
Skunk holes differ from skunk burrows. Skunk holes are shallower than burrows and have loosened dirt.
Do Skunks Carry Diseases?
Skunks are particularly susceptible to the rabies virus, which they are then able to transmit to humans or pets. It is important to note that skunks do not transmit rabies through their spray. They are able to transmit the dangerous disease through saliva, most commonly through biting.
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