Common Questions about Skunks

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What does a skunk look like?

  • 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.
  • The body of the striped skunk is about the size of an ordinary house cat up to 29 inches long and weighing about 8 pounds.
  • Skunks have the ability to discharge nauseating musk from the anal glands and are capable of several discharges, not just one.

How do you know if you have a skunk?

  • Holes in lawns or gardens, small, 3- to 4-inch cone-shaped holes or patches of upturned earth.
  • Tracks may be used to identify the animal causing damage. Both the hind and forefeet of skunks have five toes. In some cases, the fifth toe may not be obvious. Claw marks are usually visible, but the heels of the forefeet normally are not. The hindfeet tracks are approximately 2 1/2 inches long.
  • Skunk droppings can often be identified by the undigested insect parts they contain. Droppings are 1/4 to 1/2 inch in diameter and 1 to 2 inches long.
  • Skunk Odor is not always a reliable indicator of the presence or absence of skunks. Sometimes dogs, cats, or other animals that have been sprayed by skunks move under houses and make owners mistakenly think skunks are present.

Are skunks found in New York?

  • The striped skunk is common throughout the United States and Canada.
  • The normal home range of the skunk is l/2 to 2 miles in diameter.
  • During the breeding season, a male may travel 4 to 5 miles each night.
  • Skunks inhabit clearings, pastures, and open lands bordering forests.
  • On prairies, skunks seek cover in the thickets and timber fringes along streams.
  • They establish dens in hollow logs or may climb trees and use hollow limbs.

What type of food do skunks prefer?

  • Skunks eat plant and animal foods in about equal amounts during fall and winter.
  • Skunks eat considerably more animal matter during spring and summer when insects, their preferred food, are more available.
  • Grasshoppers, beetles, and crickets are the adult insects most often taken.
  • Field and house mice are regular and important items in the skunk diet, particularly in winter.

What is the behavior of a skunk?

  • Adult skunks begin breeding in late February.
  • 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 consisting 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.
  • The age potential for a skunk is about 10 years, but few live beyond 3 years in the wild.
  • 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.

What type of damage can a skunk cause?

  • Skunks become a nuisance when their burrowing and feeding habits conflict with humans.
  • Skunks 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.
  • Skunks dig holes in lawns, golf courses, and gardens to search for insect grubs found in the soil.
  • Rabies may be carried by skunks on occasion. 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.

How do you prevent skunks and other wildlife?

  • Keep skunks from denning under buildings by sealing off all foundation openings. Skunks, normally do not climb, but use tight-fit-ting lids to keep skunks out of garbage cans.
  • Properly dispose of garbage or other food sources that will attract skunks.
  • Skunks are often attracted to rodents living in barns, crawl spaces, sheds, and garages. Rodent control programs may be necessary to eliminate this attraction.
  • Debris such as lumber, fence posts, and junk cars provide shelter for skunks, and may encourage them to use an area. Clean up the area to discourage skunks.

Wildlife removal is not a “do it yourself” task. Getting rid of wildlife animals is dangerous. Wildlife can bite, carry and spread disease, so it best to contact a professional wildlife removal specialist to get rid of animals like skunks. Wildlife can quickly take over a structure to shelter themselves from the outdoor elements. Contact your Albany wildlife removal company to prevent any damages before they can begin. The Clifton Park wildlife removal experts at Thomas Pest Services can help you today with a free inspection to get rid of skunks!


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