Skunks are armed with a potent defensive weapon: a pair of large scent glands found beneath the skin on either side of the rectum. These glands have nozzle-like ducts, which protrude through the anus. Skunks discharge their scent, or musk, through these nozzles, powering the stream with a strong hip muscle contraction.
Musk is an oily liquid, creamy or yellowish in color. Its active ingredient is a sulphide called mercaptan. Field guides refer to the musk as “highly repellent to all mammals.” In short, it stinks. Musk can make a predator sick or, if the skunk has been able to direct the substance into the animal’s eyes, temporarily blind.
A skunk can shoot musk about twelve feet, but will use it as only a last resort, preferring, instead, to bluff an enemy. If threatened, a skunk drums its forefeet on the ground, snarls, arches its back and raises its tail. It can spray in any direction by twisting its rump toward the target. And, contrary to popular opinion, it can discharge when hoisted by the tail.
Striped skunks are omnivorous. What they eat depends on where they live and what’s available. In summer, they feed heavily on insects — adult and larval forms — including grasshoppers, crickets, beetles and wasps. (Pest insects eaten: potato bugs, tobacco worms and Japanese beetles.)
Normally solitary, males and females get together for breeding in February and March. Males fight with each other, although they rarely discharge musk during these conflicts. They travel widely in search of mates and breed with several females if possible.
A mated female drives off males shortly after her three-day estrus period ends. After 60 days’ gestation, she bears 2-10 young (usually 5-7). Skunks are capable of breeding in their first year. Younger females may bear fewer young and give birth later in the year than older females.
At birth, striped skunks weigh less than an ounce. Although they’re blind and unfurred, the pattern of their future black-and-white pelage shows on their pinkish, wrinkled skin. They develop quickly. After three weeks, their scent glands become functional; at four weeks, their eyes open; and at about two months the young are weaned and ready to leave the den for nighttime hunting forays.
Skunks can have nesting sites, under buildings, in a crawlspace, or under a shed or deck. They will also cause a whole lot of damage to a lawn if grubs are present. Occasionally, they will wander into your garage if the door is left open. They do get rabies, distemper, and can have parasites and diseases. They will also dig under structures to live, or move into an existing woodchuck hole.
The removal all starts with an inspection. We will come out and access the damage to identify the species doing the damage. Then we will set the appropriate traps to remove the animals. We will also recommend habit modifications and exclusions available for your site. And give you a cost to repair the damage. If the skunk has sprayed we can deodorizes the area.
A more permanent solution to a skunk problem is to use an exclusion technique to permanently keep the skunks from burrowing under your deck, shed or other structure. For this we use hardware cloth buried into the ground and attached to the structure, this prevents future nuisance animals from burrowing under the structure.
We also provide a comprehensive one year warranty on most shed or deck seal out services.