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With their distinctive coloration and powerful odor, skunks are truly a unique creature. They are distantly related to weasels and only in the last decade have they been classified as being in a different scientific family. Characteristics they share with weasels include a squat body, strong claws for digging, enlarged anal glands and musty secretions. But skunks have even larger anal glands, and instead of a duct that secretes scent markings, skunks can aim and control their spray with cone-shaped anal glands that can spray as far as 10ft.
Types Of Skunks
Striped and Hooded Skunks:
These types of skunks have a characteristic stripe that starts at the forehead and runs the length of the back, sometimes splitting into multiple lines along the way. Even though skunks are born hairless, their stripes are visible from birth. The size and length of their stripe varies with each individual. Though rare, there are even some skunks that are totally black or totally white. Striped and Hooded skunks will stamp their feet as a warning they are about to spray.
Spotted skunks are the smallest type of skunk. They have slender bodies and shorter fur than other skunks. Spotted skunks are good rodent hunters compared to the other types and they are the only skunks capable of climbing trees. When threatened, they have a unique defense mechanism in which they do a front handstand in order to appear larger.
As their name implies, Hog-nosed skunks have an elongated snout that is well equipped for extracting bugs and grubs from the ground.
Stink Badgers look quite different from other skunks and are only found in Indonesia and the Philippines.
Using their odoriferous spray is the most effective defense skunks have. In addition to its foul smell, the spray can also cause serious eye damage and temporary blindness. Skunks will usually signal that they are distressed and are preparing to spray. Skunks will also bite and scratch if cornered.
Skunks are typically most active during dawn and dusk hours. When they are not breeding, skunks are solitary animals. Skunks do not hibernate but they do den for long periods of time in which they are in a dormant state. Females will den together in winter months to share heat, whereas males remain alone. Females have litters of four to seven kits which remain under the mother's watch for up to a year. Males play no part in raising young.
Most predators seldom attack skunks due to their odor. Dogs will sometimes attack a skunk before learning from their mistake. The only true predator to skunks are owls which hunt and eat skunks regularly. Skunks have a great sense of hearing and smell but have poor eyesight and consequently, they are susceptible to death by road traffic.
Skunks are omnivorous and will eat opportunistically. They eat all types of insects as well as berries, foliage, fungi, and nuts. In areas of human inhabitance, skunks will eat garbage if they can gain access to bins left outside.
Impacts Of A Skunk
Skunks can cause many unpleasant impacts to a person's property. Most commonly property owners will notice damage to their lawn and garden caused by skunks digging for insects to eat. Their foul smell is also notorious for making an area extremely stinky for some time. Skunks also love to burrow and den underneath decks and foundations which can cause destabilization of important housing components. When a skunk has decided that it likes a place, it can be quite difficult to convince them to leave.
Taking measures to keep skunks out is the best option since once a skunk is established, they can be difficult to remove. Removing attractants around the house is the most effective way to discourage skunk residence. This can be done by securing trash, covering window wells, feeding pets indoors, and securing barn and out-building doors.
Skunk Removal Procedures
Once a skunk has become a nuisance the best approach is to trap the skunk and move it elsewhere. The animals must then be released to a suitable habitat where they will not be a problem to humans. Because of the high risk of being sprayed or bitten in the process, it's best to leave this to professionals.
Contact Wildlife X Team® New Hampshire for expert skunk removal.