Skunk

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Famous for their foul-smelling spray and black-and-white color, skunks are one of the most common nuisance wildlife creatures for homeowners and businesses. The striped or spotted nocturnal animals are common in Wisconsin in both urban and suburban areas.

Fast Facts

Color Skunks have a black body with a narrow white stripe on the forehead and wider stripes that extend from the neck along each side of the back.
Size skunk-footprints

Adults are 21-26″ in length, including the 7-11″ tail, and weigh 2.4-12.1 pounds. Females are slightly smaller than males. All four feet of the skunk have five toes and are similar in size, but the front feet have noticeably longer nails, which are used for digging. Skunk tracks are often confused with domestic cats, which has four toes and retracted nails.

Appearance The striped skunk is stout-bodied with short legs and a long, bushy, coarsely-furred tail.

Diet

Skunks feed on small mammals, eggs, fruit, berries, insects, food scraps in trash, dog feces, farm poultry and eggs.

Habitat

Skunk habitats vary from pastures to open lands bordering forests. They will also live under decks, under sheds, or in burrows, hollow logs or wood or rock piles. Skunks do not hibernate but generally remain inactive during winter, surviving on their fat stores and only leaving their den for short periods during warm weather.

Life Cycle

One male may breed with several females during February and March. After mating, female skunks move to a maternal den using grass for bedding. Generally, four to seven young are born about nine weeks after mating in May or June. The young are blind and deaf at birth with short, fine fur. The young are nursed in the den for about six weeks before joining their mother on trips outside the den. By this time, they are miniature replicas of adults. The young are weaned by about two months of age.

Damage

Spray People and Pets

When feeling threatened, a skunk will spray people or pets with an oily liquid containing sulfur compounds which is produced by two glands at the base of the tail. Skunks are capable of spraying accurately up to 20 feet. The spray can be painful and blind pets and people temporarily.

Carry Rabies

Skunks are also a serious public health threat. In the U.S., they are second to the raccoon in the number of reported rabies cases among wildlife animals.

Inhabit Structures

Skunks will often dig along the edges of structures and take up residency beneath foundations, porches, decks, and sheds.

Damage Lawns

Skunks are known to tear up lawns and landscaping as they dig for insect larvae.

Raid Gardens

Unfenced gardens are commonly raided by skunks for fruits and vegetables.

Damage Beehives

Skunks will feed on both adult and larval bees.

Prevention & Control

Skunk Prevention

Like many pests, the most effective way to make your property less attractive to skunks is to reduce access to the food, water, and shelter that the animals need. Minimize sources of these close to your property by:

  • Removing brush piles, weed patches, stone piles and other debris.
  • Fallen fruit and spilled seed from bird feeders should be removed frequently.
  • Garbage cans should have tight-fitting lids.
  • Food placed outdoors for pets should be removed by nightfall.
  • Close off all potential entrances or openings under houses and decks, garden tool sheds, mobile homes, porches, and decks with 1/4″ mesh hardware cloth. The advantage of using the small mesh is that it will also exclude rats and house mice if installed correctly. Skunks will work hard to get into a desirable den space, so take care to make fittings good and tight. If there is soil underneath the potential entrances, bury the wire at least six inches to discourage skunks from digging under.
Skunk Control

Much of wildlife control is knowing and understanding the habitat and behavior of the animal. For skunks, Batzner uses live trapping and/or covered trapping baited with cat food, chicken entrails or sardines with brussel sprouts, carrots or lettuce.

If you’re having problems with skunks around your home or business, contact a pest control professional for expert removal services.