Skunks, Raccoons, and Opossums are Consistently Drawn to Human Refuse
If you live in the south or Midwest, you’re probably very familiar with skunks and the problems they cause. These small, cat-sized mammals are foragers and are often sighted during the same season as raccoons and opossums. The skunk, of course, is known for the terrible odor that it produces from glands beneath its tail, and as a result, a variety of urban legends surround the skunk and how to get rid of its pervasive stench.
Skunks can be easily spotted thanks to their characteristic black-and-white stripes, although they can sometimes have brown-and-grey coats. All skunks, regardless of color, have a prominent and unmistakable tail that serves as a visual indication of their uniquely odorous traits.
Skunks are omnivores, and much like opossums and raccoons, will eat almost anything. They’ve known to prefer insects and grubs, small rodents, lizards, frogs, snakes, and birds, though they’ll also eat berries, roots, leaves, grasses, fungi, and nuts if the opportunity to do so presents itself. In cosmopolitan areas, they have no qualms about overturning and rooting through garbage cans in search of discarded food.
Skunks will also occasionally act as scavengers, eating the carcasses of birds or rodents. Cat owners, especially, might have problems with them, as they’ve been known to find their way into garages or basements in search of cat food left out in the open. Likewise, skunks frequently dig holes in lawns in search of earthworms and grubs.
Skunks have excellent sense of hearing and smell, although they have quite poor eyesight which only extends to about 10 feet, making them vulnerable to death by road traffic. In the wild, these animals are fairly short-lived, often surviving for no more than a year.
As everyone knows, skunks are famous for the noxious odor they emit when threatened. A skunk’s scent glands produce of mixture of sulfur-containing chemicals such as thiols. This scent mixture is strong enough to ward off most predators, including bears, and can be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to remove from clothing. Aside from the stench, the liquid itself can be extremely physically irritating, and can even cause temporary blindness.
Although it is fairly rare for a skunk to bite a human, the most prevalent cause of same can be traced to the rabies virus. In fact, raccoons and skunks vie for the title of most prolific carrier of rabies throughout many regions of the United States. That said, it’s generally agreed upon that a skunk will use its spray only as a weapon of last resort. Their distinctive coloration is the first major deterrent, and many would-be predators know to flee the area when they spot the telltale black-and-white stripes. Otherwise, a skunk will usually attempt to ward off predators with threatening hisses, foot-stamping, and tail-raising.
If skunks have been causing problems around your home, it’s a good idea to call your local pest control professional. He of she will likely try to capture and remove the offending skunk in a non-lethal way, and then release the animal in an area where it’s unlikely to offend any other humans with its stench.
If skunks have made unsightly appearances around your home, call Cantu Pest Control at 972-885-3618 (Dallas and Fort Worth areas) or 713-999-3495 (Houston area) and schedule an appointment today with one of our friendly, experienced pest control experts.