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Info- Skunk

The striped skunk is a small animal about the size of an average house cat. It has a distinctive white stripe that extends from its forehead, to the tip of its bushy tail, which serves as a warning to predators. While skunks are known for their sprays of musk, they give plenty of warning, stomping their feet and arching their tail before they spray. They can spray with amazing accuracy up to 13 ft.

While the disadvantage of having a skunk nearby is obvious to the nose, this creature is beneficial. It preys on small vermin such as mice and insects. Skunks can catch mice in very hard-to-access places. In addition, skunks are rather mellow. They do not usually spray unless really scared or cornered.

The striped skunk lives in a variety of semi-open country: mixed woods, brushland, and open prairie; especially in the vicinity of rivers and ponds. Skunks sometimes use abandoned burrows of other animals as a den, dig their own, or den in woodpiles or abandoned buildings. They may also seek shelter or temporary living quarters in the spaces under a house or deck. Rarely does a skunk family that has denned under someone’s house stay for very long.

Skunks are nocturnal animals, meaning they are active mainly at night, although they are sometimes seen during the day. Young skunks are more often seen foraging or playing during the day than are the adults, except during late winter when it is breeding time. They do not hibernate although they may be inactive for weeks during the winter. The males are solitary while the females may den together in the winter.

Skunks are also nomadic, and they do not take up permanent residence under buildings or in your shed. Given time they will move along all on their own.

"The Warning"
Folks living in the country may have noticed that dogs are sprayed by skunks much more often than humans. There is a good reason for this. If you do manage to get a skunk "ticked off" at you — it will stamp its front feet as a last warning. If you stop and back off, so will the skunk. Dogs do not understand the warning and charge ahead.

Skunks eat a variety of foods. They are very helpful animals in that they feed abundantly on insects. Their diets also include berries, mice, frogs, eggs and assorted vegetable matter. They are also known to eat yellow jackets and their nests, leaving large holes in the ground. The skunk itself is food for great horned owls.

Common Misconceptions — Rabies
It is not true that all skunks have rabies. Skunks are no more likely to contract rabies than other animals, wild or domestic. In fact, you are far more likely to be hit by lightning, or win the lottery, than contract rabies from a skunk. Since 1980, only one recorded death has been attributed to skunk-related rabies. A healthy skunk cannot “carry” rabies and pass it on. Only sick, rabid animals can transmit rabies and the transmission is through saliva. It is not an airborne virus. In saying this, we do NOT recommend you be careless handling skunks or any wild animal. Leave the hands-on work to the professionals.

For self-help information on skunks click on Self-Help- Skunks

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How to keep skunks away

Like any wild animal, the skunk is attracted to an area because of a food source. Cat/dog food left outside is a meal. If you have a skunk living under your house the first thing you can do is take away the food that drew them there to begin with. Scatter mothballs under the house and half way bury a bottle filled with bleach and a rag in the dirt. Skunks have very sensitive noses and the fumes from both of these should make it leave. Seal the area except for one entrance. Put flour around the entrance, check the direction of the paw prints and close up when the skunk is gone. Another skunk repellent is made up of:

  • 8 ounces of dish detergent
  • 8 ounces of castor oil
  • 1 gallon of water

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A Wildlife Exclusion Service • 403 Mecham Rd, Petaluma 94952 • (707) 992-0276
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