Some find them disgusting. Others think they’re cute enough to be pets! These black and white striped animals are distantly related to weasels, badgers, and otters, but are unique enough to be in their own family scientifically speaking. So long as they’re not dealing with a nosy dog, these critters mind their own business.
They’re omnivores and will eat almost anything available to them. They prefer to eat snails, slugs, beetles and other common pests. This makes them a great, if somewhat smelly, form of pest control for your gardens.
They will spray if they are threatened, but only as a last resort. Their sulfur-based spray is limited to about six shots before they are completely out for the next several days. As such, they often resort of stomping their feet and charging threats before they turn and lift their tails.
Which Ones Are Local to Humboldt & Del Norte County?
In northern California, there are two main skunk species running around. The one most people are familiar with is the striped skunk, a mostly black animal with two distinct white stripes racing down its back. These are about the size of your average cat and more prevalent in most neighborhoods.
The other and less common species is the western spotted skunk which looks like a black and white tie-dyed skunk. These guys are smaller than their striped cousins, but their spray is just as potent, lasting for days if not taken care of. You’ll know these guys are about to spray when they stand on their front legs and wave their tail in the air.
While incredibly cool, we don’t recommend sticking around to take a video of this little dance. You and the skunk will be happier if you walk away.
When Should I Worry about Them?
Skunks may decide to burrow under your house or deck any time of the year, but you should on the lookout for them during the winter and spring. While winters in northern California are fairly mild, skunks do not hibernate. They’ll be looking for a dark and warm place to nest and eventually raise their litter (typically in late spring).
To a cold or expecting skunk mother, your porch might be the perfect place to burrow.
How Do I Know if I Have an Infestation?
There are several signs of a skunk family having moved in underneath your house or deck. Some are obvious while others can be a little ambiguous unless you’re looking out for them.
The Smell – If you step outside and smell that pungent scent, a skunk has definitely been nearby. However, they are known to wander throughout neighborhoods, so it may have already passed through. If you keep consistently experiencing this awful smell though, it may be time to call and have a professional inspection done.
Holes/Burrows – While skunks prefer to use abandoned burrows and holes made by other animals, they are powerful diggers and can easily make their own accommodations. If you notice a large hole leading underneath your house, shed, porch, or any other structure on your property, you may have a new tenant and need a professional immediately.
What Can I Do to Prevent This?
Checking your property on a regular basis, especially around the foundation of your home and deck is a good place to start preventing skunks from stinking up the place. You can also put up wire meshes like chicken wire around decks and porches to discourage them from moving in. Make sure the mesh is at least six inches into the ground. Otherwise it will only stop the lazy skunk.
Remember that this is only useful if a skunk hasn’t already moved in. You don’t want to trap these guys under your home without having a plan ready.
Can I Treat This Myself?
While you can buy a trap yourself, you actually need a permit if you want to relocate and release the skunk due to the risk of spreading rabies to other populations. Not to mention there’s the serious chance of being sprayed. For those of you wondering at home, tomato juice only covers the smell. It does nothing to break down the potent sulfur compound.
Furthermore, skunks are often carriers of diseases such as rabies. The fleas, ticks and other parasites hiding in their fur also come with their own hazards. Most of these can be transmitted either to you and your loved one or your family pet.
On a final note, if you have been bit or scratched recently by a skunk, please seek medical treatment immediately. Even if you do smell like the rear end of a - well, you know – skunk.
Do I Really Need to Call Someone?
If a skunk of family of skunks has moved into your home, please call a pest control company like us immediately. Our team is trained to handle situations like this, has all the proper equipment and are much less likely to stink up the place in the process. It will save you and your nose later.
What Do You Do?
At Humboldt Termite & Pest, we know more than just bugs.
Step 1: Identification – Our technicians have the experience under their belts to know the signs of a skunk threatening your home. When one of our team is at your home, they will work quickly to identify the problem and minimize any disruption to your life.
Step 2: Treatment – Once we know the problem, we will offer you a variety of solutions to meet all your needs and concerns. We’ll proceed with your decision and make sure that you’re happy with the results.
Step 3: Ongoing Prevention – After the skunk(s) have been safely removed from the property, our technicians will work with you to identify potential risk factors and how to prevent future skunks from invading your home.
We are committed to providing the best solutions and service we possibly can. So rest easy. Don’t worry. We’re on the job.