About Nuisance Skunks
Most people know only two facts about skunks: that they are striped, with a black and white coat, and that they leave a stinky smell when defending themselves. However, there is much more to these wild animals.
The Skunk Family
Skunks are omnivores that can be found in North and South America. They are closely related to the weasel family, but their closest cousins are actually stink badgers. These two species create the family Mephitidae, which is recognized by their unique defense tactics of deterring predators with an unpleasant smell from the liquid in their scent glands. Their advantage lays in having excellent senses of smell and hearing, but unfortunately at the same time, they struggle with very poor vision.
Skunks are primarily nocturnal and can live in a variety of habitats – anywhere from mountains and forests to desert areas.
We usually come across striped, black and white skunks; however, they can also have brown or grey of cream-colored fur. Skunks are usually the size of a house cat, which means they are classified as small or medium-sized mammals.
Skunks spend a lot of their time digging, and therefore their body is adapted to this kind of lifestyle – they have a rather stout build with short, muscled legs and an elongated body. It is also worth noting that they have quite long and sharp claws, and five toes on their front paws and four on the back paws.
Problems Caused by Skunks
Skunks can be helpful in some ways, especially when it comes to getting rid of cutworms and other insects. However, most of the time when found in urban and suburban areas, they can cause a lot of trouble. Skunks are considered quite harmless animals in terms of a physical threat, so that’s certainly not the main issue with them. The problem appears when we try to keep our garden nice and tidy or our pets safe.
Some of the problems that skunks can cause are:
Structural & Garden Damage
Skunks are known for burrowing. Usually, these animals burrow underneath trees, but when they find themselves near property, they might burrow under home foundation. This can lead to serious structural damage. Moreover, skunks often dig in search of food, which definitely won’t help people who are trying to keep their garden nice and tidy.
Skunks use their anal scent glands as a defensive method. They spray attackers with a strong, unpleasant liquid containing sulfuric acid. This means that the liquid clings to objects and living creatures (for example your pets), and is extremely difficult to get rid of.
Like most wild animals, skunks can carry various diseases and transmit them to other animals or humans.
There are some steps homeowners can take to prevent skunks from coming around their property and destroying their surroundings.
Remove Lawn Grubs
Skunks often wander into lawns and gardens looking for food. They dig up the ground and leave cone-shaped holes when searching for insect larvae and grubs.
You can easily get lawn treatment advice and materials from any garden store and control what happens in the soil. This way you reduce the skunks wanting to come to your garden area.
Remove Food Sources
Leftover food and messy waste area are an invitation for hungry skunks. Keeping this place clean and tidy is the best way to prevent skunk damage.
- Always remember to take food inside and not leave it anywhere outside on a table or barbecue.
- Regularly get rid of waste.
- Ensure that your garbage cans have tightly-fitted lids.
Fix Your Fence
Another tactic is fixing your fence and ensuring there are no holes that animals can go through. You should also consider covering all foundation openings – the best material to use is a woven fire fencing. This should help with preventing skunks from burrowing underneath the foundation.
Professional Removal Tactics
In some cases, you may need to reach out for professional help when the skunks are becoming too comfortable near your property. When talking with wildlife removal professionals, you may hear about a couple of options. Depending on where the skunks are trapped – whether it’s under your porch or deck, or if they are just causing trouble in your garden area – professionals can use different tactics.