The Dangers of Having Skunks in your Home

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Skunks are mammals known for their repugnant odour so powerful that it can cause intense discomfort if it gets into a person’s eyes. They are nocturnal organisms and are mostly active during late evening hours. The skunk has short, stocky legs and proportionately large feet equipped with well developed claws which enables it to be very adept at digging. The most common types of problem skunks are the striped and the spotted.

The striped skunk is characterised by prominent, lateral white stripes that run down its back. However, its fur is jet black. They are the most abundant of all the species. The striped skunk is approximately the size of a house cat. It weighs about 8 pounds.

Spotted skunks are however smaller in size and weighs about 2-3 pounds. They are easily distinguishable because of their spots. Although the most common fur colour is black and white, some skunks are brown or grey and a few are cream coloured.

Skunks are commonly found in North America and Mexico. The striped skunk is common throughout the United States and Canada while spotted skunks can be seen in some parts of United States and Northern Mexico. Skunks inhabit clearings and open lands bordering forests and live in ground level den sites like hollow logs and rock piles.

Skunks become a nuisance when their burrowing and feeding habits conflict with humans. They may inhabit one’s house and it becomes more problematic when they grow their numbers through reproduction and the risk of spray increases. They start damaging the lawns and gardens which deteriorate the beauty of your landscaping. Moreover they dig holes in open grounds like golf courses or even inhabit garages. Skunks spread garbage left outdoors or in open bins. They are very much hazardous to physical as well as mental health of the people whose home they inhabit. As such, they must be removed, controlled, and future re-entry must be prevented and this can be best done by wildlife control experts.

Health and safety

Skunks are primary carriers of rabies. There have been cases across The United States of people suffering from rabies caused by skunk bites. There is no government approved rabies vaccine available in the U.S, however in Canada, Imrab 3 was used in a study for off-label use as a skunk rabies vaccine but to date it is not approved for skunk use.

Skunks also carry many pests such as ticks, fleas and mites, which themselves carry a number of diseases. One should be aware of the wildlife control measures and methods in order to prevent further spreading.

Moreover, skunks spread garbage left in bags unattended which in itself is an invitation to diseases such as cholera, diarrhoea, etc. If you are on a small farm although skunks normally do not climb fences, if they gain access into a chicken coup they will normally feed on the eggs and occasionally kill one or two fowl. In some cases, skunks are known for attacking or spraying pets such as dogs and cats when disturbed by them.

Property damage

Apart from damage caused by bad odour, which also carries both physical and mental health risks, skunks cause considerable property damage. They damage our gardens and lawns by digging, “grubbing” and burrowing. Moreover, they undermine sheds, decks or foundations through digging.

Skunks are also known for damaging ornamental plants in gardens and tearing up plants.  Occasionally, they feed on corn, eating only the lower ears and may also damage beehives in order to eat bees. Their strong odorous spray can damage carpet, furniture, draperies, and clothing for a very long time.

Control measures

The method of exclusion is the most effective way of animal control and avoiding them from entering the house. You can prevent skunks from digging under buildings by sealing off all the foundation openings. Seal all ground level openings into barns and close doors at night.

Never keep your garbage in bags or in gardens as garbage is the primary element that attract skunks. Debris such as lumber, fence posts, and junk cars provide shelter for skunks, and may encourage them to stay in the area.

There are no authorized repellants available in the market for skunk control. However, some DIY methods such as an ammonia soaked cloth may repel skunks but that won’t last long.

The trapping method can be used for trapping skunks as done in the case of rats. There are many box traps available on the market which can be used for this purpose. But, before trapping skunks you should be aware of the laws and regulations regarding wildlife control in your area. Or better yet, call a wildlife control service and let them handle the situation.

In general skunks should not be destroyed needlessly as another skunk will take it’s place. Removing food and shelter options is far more effective. It is also wrong to kill wildlife just because they are a nuisance therefore, humane methods should be used for controlling them. A good wildlife control company like Skedaddle offers skunk removal methods that are humane, safe, and reliable.


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