Rabid Skunk: What to Do if You See One

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Imagine relaxing in your backyard with your children and pets and seeing a black and white ball of fur wandering aimlessly alongside your fence. As your dogs begin to bark and engage the small creature, you follow closely eager to find out what the commotion is all about. As you get closer you realize that the ball of fur is a skunk. You stand there frozen in fear of being sprayed by its pungent spray. You scream at your dogs to back away from the animal but they ignore your warning and approach the skunk anyways. They sniff and poke at it, but to your surprise instead of being met with a spray, you notice that the animal seems disoriented and ignores the presence of your barking dogs’. This is not an invitation for you to come closer to the skunk, it is possible that this skunk is rabid.

If the threat of being drenched in a putrid mist doesn’t discourage you from approaching skunks, perhaps knowing that skunks have been increasingly testing positive for rabies and the risk of you or your pets becoming infected would. However, the majority of skunks sighted outside of the wild are not rabid.  Most skunks are simply feeding on critters in your yard or scavenging through your left-out pet food or trash.

In the event of an encounter with a rabid skunk you or your pets can become infected with rabies. This is why you should call your local animal control to remove the skunk from your yard.  In order to ensure your safety, these are a few actions you must take. Maintain a safe distance from the skunk at all times. Never touch or attempt to remove a skunk even if it appears dead or harmless. Alert animal control to remove the pest. It is always important to inform animal control of skunks exhibiting peculiar characteristics based on appearance and mannerism.

What does rabid skunk behaviour look like? Rabid animals typically experience three phases of their infection prior to death. In any of these stages, humans and animals are most vulnerable to the rabies virus.

Early symptoms or the prodromal phase of a rabies infection in skunks are characterized by changes in behaviour such as:

  • The skunk does not flee from humans or other animal advances
  • The skunk has fur that appears mangy and unkempt

The second stage or excitative stage includes skunks exhibiting the following signs:

  • Aggressive or violent behaviour
  • Disorientated

In the final stage or the paralytic stage skunks will:

  • Have impaired motor skills and coordination
  • Paralysis of the limbs

So what should you do? Unless you are trained in wildlife removal, back away from the skunk as you are putting yourself in serious danger! Rabid animals have been known to attack, both provoked and unprovoked. The virus is transmitted through wounds as a result of being bitten or scratched by these infected animals. In the event of a bite or scratch always seek medical attention immediately. If a pet has been bitten, take your pet to the veterinarian for immediate quarantine.

Attempting to remove or scare away this animal yourself can have serious adverse effects. Skedaddle Humane Wildlife Control professionals can help keep you and your family safe by removing the infected animal from your property. In addition, wildlife control can implement various strategies to prevent wildlife from coming back to your home. Make the right decision and allow the professionals to take care of the situation effectively and properly.

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