Skunks

Striped and Spotted Skunks

Arguably the most recognized wildlife species in North America, which carries with it a truly unmistakable odor for defense. The skunk, once believed a member of the weasel family, is represented by four species in North America. The skunk has short, stocky legs and proportionately large feet equipped with well-developed claws that enable it to be very adept at digging. The striped skunk is characterized by prominent, lateral white stripes that run down its back. Its fur is otherwise jet black. Striped skunks are the most abundant of the four species. The body of the striped skunk is about the size of an ordinary house cat (up to 29 inches [74 cm] long and weighing about 8 pounds [3.6 kg] ). The spotted skunk is smaller (up to 21 inches [54 cm] long and weighing about 2.2 pounds [1 kg]), more weasel-like, and is readily distinguishable by white spots and short, broken white stripes in a dense jet-black coat.

The hooded skunk (Mephitis macroura) is identified by hair on the neck that is spread out into a ruff. It is 28 inches (71 cm) long and weighs the same as the striped skunk. It has an extremely long tail, as long as the head and body combined. The back and tail may be all white, or nearly all black, with two white side stripes. The hog-nosed skunk (Conepatus leucontus) has a long snout that is hairless for about 1 inch (2.5 cm) at the top. It is 26 inches (66 cm) long and weighs 4 pounds (1.8 kg). Its entire back and tail are white and the lower sides and belly are black. Skunks have the ability to discharge nauseating musk from the anal glands and are capable of several discharges, not just one.

Adult skunks normally begin breeding in late February. Yearling females (born in the preceding year) mate in late March. Gestation usually lasts 7 to 10 weeks. Older females bear young during the first part of May, while yearling females bear young in early June. There is usually only 1 litter annually. Litters commonly consist of 4 to 6 young, but may have from 2 to 16. Younger or smaller females have smaller litters than older or larger females. The young stay with the female until fall. Both sexes mature by the following spring. The age potential for a skunk is about 10 years, but few live beyond 3 years in the wild. The normal home range of the skunk is l/2 to 2 miles (2 to 5 km) in diameter. During the breeding season, a male may travel 4 to 5 miles (6.4 to 8 km) each night. Skunks are dormant for about a month during the coldest part of winter. They may den together in winter for warmth, but generally are not sociable. They are nocturnal in habit, rather slow-moving and deliberate, and have great confidence in defending themselves against other animals.


Damages


Skunks become a nuisance when their burrowing and feeding habits conflict with humans. They may burrow under porches or buildings by entering foundation openings. Garbage or refuse left outdoors may be disturbed by skunks. Skunks may damage beehives by attempting to feed on bees. Occasionally, they feed on corn, eating only the lower ears. If the cornstalk is knocked over, however, raccoons are more likely the cause of damage. Damage to the upper ears of corn is indicative of birds, deer, or squirrels. Skunks dig holes in lawns, golf courses, and gardens to search for insect grubs found in the soil. Digging normally appears as small, 3- to 4-inch (7- to 10-cm) cone-shaped holes or patches of upturned earth. Several other animals, including domestic dogs, also dig in lawns. Skunks occasionally kill poultry and eat eggs. They normally do not climb fences to get to poultry. By contrast, rats, weasels, mink, and raccoons regularly climb fences. If skunks gain access, they will normally feed on the eggs and occasionally kill one or two fowl. Eggs usually are opened on one end with the edges crushed inward. Weasels, mink, dogs and raccoons usually kill several chickens or ducks at a time. Dogs will often severely mutilate poultry. Skunk droppings can often be identified by the undigested insect parts they contain. Droppings are 1/4 to 1/2 inch (6 to 13 mm) in diameter and 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 cm) long. Odor is not always a reliable indicator of the presence or absence of skunks. Sometimes dogs, cats, raccoons or other animals that have been sprayed by skunks move under houses and make owners mistakenly think skunks are present.


Health Risks


Rabies may be carried by skunks on occasion. Skunks are the primary carriers of rabies in the Midwest. When rabies outbreaks occur, the ease with which rabid animals can be contacted increases. Therefore, rabid skunks are prime vectors for the spread of the virus. Avoid overly aggressive skunks that approach without hesitation. Any skunk showing abnormal behavior, such as daytime activity, may be rabid and should be treated with caution. Report suspicious behavior to local animal control authorities. There is cause for concern when skunks take up residence in an urban or suburban area because in California they are primary carriers of rabies, a viral disease transmitted by the bite of an infected animal. Skunks are also carriers of other diseases including leptospirosis, listeriosis, canine distemper, canine hepatitis, Q-fever, tularemia, and trypanosoma.


Odor Removal


There are several options for odor removal. The chemical neutroleum-alpha is one of the most useful neutralizers for removing the unpleasant skunk scent on furniture or in buildings, but this material and products containing it are not readily available. There are also other commercial products sold for neutralizing or masking skunk odor. If you cannot find such products easily, contact a
professional wildlife control operator, who may be able to provide neutroleum-alpha or can tell you where it can be purchased. Do not use neutroleum-alpha on pets or people. If your dog or cat has confronted a skunk, call your veterinarian to determine current recommendations for washing the animal to get rid of skunk odor.


A home remedy formulation reported by some to be effective is as follows:

  • 1 quart 3% hydrogen peroxide
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon liquid soap.

Once the hydrogen peroxide is mixed with the baking soda, the mixture is unstable and generates oxygen, and thus cannot be bottled or stored. Apparently, oxidation changes the chemical composition of skunk scent so that it no longer smells. When the fresh mixture is applied to items contaminated by skunk odor, the smell diminishes quickly. Any leftover mixture should be diluted several fold with water and poured down the drain. Hydrogen peroxide mixtures can be used safely on pets and people as well as on clothing and furniture. Rinse pets thoroughly with water after treatment.

 

Oklahoma Wildlife Control Tulsa Skunk Removal Verdegris Claremore Catoosa Capture

A Pair of skunks taken (removed) out from under the deck of a house in Verdigris, located between Catoosa and Claremore, Oklahoma.



Reginald Murray Oklahoma Wildlife Control Baby Skunks Removed From A Wall in Sand Springs For The City.

Reginald Murray of Oklahoma Wildlife Control with four baby skunks removed from a wall in Sand Springs, OK ... on one of the city properties.







Sand Springs Oklahoma Wildlife Control Skunks Removed Captured Trapper Trapping Trapped Trap Relocated Humane Unharmed

3 baby Skunks removed from a garage in Sand Springs. Once we get mom, they will be reunited, and relocated to our property, away from people or urban developments.




Sand Springs Oklahoma Wildlife Control Skunk Removal Remove Capture Trap Trapping Trapper Humane Proof Proofing

A Mother skunk, removed from a garage in Sand Springs, Oklahoma, is reunited with her three babies, just prior to releasing them on our own property.

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