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Skunksskunk

The Striped Skunk (Mephitis mephitis) weighs from 4-10 pounds and is 24-30 inches long. Skunks are easy to recognize with their distinct black and white coloring. The Striped Skunk has two white bands that run from the head and down each side of the back. They do not form long partnerships, and mate in late February, and young are born in May. A litter may be five or six young. They follow the mother around, and after they are a year old, they depart to live on their own. Most die during their first winter. They usually only live 2-4 years in the wild, but can live more than a dozen years in captivity.

There are other skunk species as well, such as the Eastern Spotted Skunk (Spilogale putorius) which is smaller but similar in behavior. These skunks will actually perform a handstand when spraying.

Skunk behavior

Skunks are mostly nocturnal, and forage at night for a variety of foods. The are omnivores, eating both plant and animal matter, but really seem to prefer insects. They sleep during the day, usually in underground dens often dug by other animals. They do not fully hibernate, but activity is very low during the winter. The often communicate via scent marking, and males will often discharge during mating season. Skunks are well-known for their defensive tactic - when threatened, they will arch their back, lift the tail, and discharge a highly odiferous liquid from special glands near the anus. This sulphurous compound is not only offensive to the nose, but it can cause temporary blindness in an attacker. Many animals avoid skunks due to this defensive tactic, and it's actually often birds like hawks and owls that prey on skunks, since these birds lack a sense of smell.

How do I get rid of skunk smell?

If you or your pet (usually a dog) is sprayed by a skunk, don't bother with the old tomato juice bath. It doesn't help. The best way to get rid of the smell is to combine hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and liquid dish soap, and immediately shampoo with that. If sprayed in the eyes, flush them with water.

Nuisance concerns

One of the largest concerns is the odor. Skunks very frequently inhabit human dwellings. They'll live under sheds, porches, decks, etc. They may discharge or scent mark these areas, creating an unpleasant odor. Many people don't like skunks on the property, because of fear of stumbling across one and getting sprayed. There's also the matter of pet/skunk conflict. Skunks often fall down basement window wells as well. In addition, they can actually do a lot of digging, and damage a lawn.

Skunk diseases

Skunks are frequent carriers of rabies.

How do I get rid of skunks?

The best method is to trap and remove the skunks from the area. Skunk trapping can be tricky, due to the animal's ability to spray. Some trappers use solid-walled traps for this reason. Others make sure to drape the trap with a sheet or towel prior to transportation.

Can't I just use a repellent?

There is no registered or effective skunk repellent available. You can find some products on the market, such as mothball-based or urine-based repellents, but they are bogus. Go ahead and try them. And those high-pitch noisemakers, also called ultrasonic sound emitters, do not work. There is no quick and easy fix when it comes to skunk removal and control. It's best to have a professional trap and remove the animals properly.
 
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