Skunk Problems

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Skunks are a problem in the Greater Cincinnati area. Skunk Problems in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky

With its thick, glossy black fur and white stripes down the center of the face and body, the common Striped Skunk (Mephitis mephitis) is easy to spot. Skunks are frequent visitors in the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky area and can quickly become an unwelcome guest. Best known for spraying victims with a foul smelling fluid, the skunk rarely finds it necessary to attack and will often go about its business with little regard to your concerns. Its adaptability has allowed it to become an increasing sight in Cincinnati neighborhoods and can cause problems to property, pets and families. Because of their comfort level around humans, skunks can quickly become a nuisance animal.

Adult skunks are typically the size of a house cat ranging in length from 22 to 30 inches and in weight from 8 to 12 pounds. Using special glands below the tail, skunks can spray their noxious scent up to 15 feet. They are diggers with strong paws and large claws. They are active mostly at night and are seldom seen during the day. While not true hibernators, they will retreat to their den for weeks or months at a time during cold weather. Mating occurs from late February to March with the mother staying with her young until the following breeding season.

When Skunks find Food and Shelter on your property...

Skunks will eat most anything including insect larva (grubs) and rodents. In the wild, skunks are a benefit to the environment keeping rodent and damaging insect populations in check. But around human populations they will scrounge in your garbage taking advantage of any available food scraps. They will eat pet food, feed on corn, bother beehives and damage your lawn looking for insects.

In seeking shelter, skunks look for ground level spaces with a roof. In or around your home, they will seek out crawl spaces, sheds and areas under porches and decks. Skunks are digging animals and will often burrow under porches and buildings. In the winter, a warm dry spot under your porch provides perfect shelter.

With a reliable food source and safe shelter, your property can be a very attractive nesting and feeding site.

Skunks are the Primary Carriers of Rabies...

Although rarely aggressive, skunks can present a number of health and safety concerns. Like other wildlife, they can have parasites such as ticks, mites and fleas as well as diseases such as rabies. While not considered a frequent problem, skunks are the primary carrier of rabies in the Midwest. Overly aggressive skunks that approach without hesitation or show other unusual behaviors should be trapped and removed by a licensed and trained animal control expert.

When Skunks Feel Threatened...

Skunks rely on their scent glands for safety but they will usually spray only when cornered or defending their young. Skunks will also growl, spit, fluff their fur, shake their tail, and stamp the ground. They will sometimes walk a short distance on their front feet with their tail erect as a warning signal.

Take this opportunity to back away! If the situation does not resolve, a skunk will lift their tail and spray. Spraying is well aimed and can reach a target more than 15 feet away. The odor is powerful and can result in severe temporary pain to the eyes and lungs. The odor is also extremely difficult to eliminate.

Is It A Skunk?

If you suspect a skunk is causing a nuisance but haven't actually seen one, here are some ways to help determine if a skunk is causing damage to your property. Clues include:

  • How the animal gains access to your property - skunks are diggers and will search for ground-level shelter.
  • The size and shape of the opening - skunks will dig a small, half-moon shaped entrance.
  • Time when the damaged occurred - skunks are typically nocturnal.
  • Type of lawn damage - skunks create small, cone-shaped holes.

Since skunks rarely spray unless threatened, the absence of odor at a nesting site does not rule out a skunk. Garden damage can also give clues.

The Best Solution...

While prevention of a skunk problem is the first approach, once skunks have found a home on your property, trapping and removal may be the only effective solution. An effective and safe trapping plan will include:

  • Identifying points of access
  • Identifying nesting sites
  • Determining the number of animals using the site
  • Establishing whether offspring are present

Traps must be set so as not to endanger pets, and to securely and quickly trap the skunk. Care must be taken to capture and remove babies if necessary as well. Nesting sites must be safely cleaned, sanitized and deodorized. Once all problem skunks are removed, repair of property damage and improvements to prevent re-infestation must be conducted using professional-grade materials and workmanship.

Tips to Reduce Skunk Problems

Skunks are common in the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky area and can frequently become a nuisance. In addition to trapping and removal by an animal control expert, you can help manage problem skunks in a number of ways:

Secure property against use as nesting site - Skunks are not climbers and will look for ground-level spaces for nesting. These can include crawl spaces, space under porches and decks as well as brush, firewood and lumber piles. Skunks, unlike raccoons, can be easily discouraged from open areas with fencing or other suitable improvements or repairs. Removal of brush, lumber and firewood piles can remove available shelter as well.

Eliminate easy food sources - Garbage is the most obvious food source in residential areas. To reduce access, use metal trashcans with tight fitting lids. If possible, store trash containers inside secure buildings. Do not leave pet food or water outside. Skunks can cause considerable damage to lawns creating small cone-shaped holes throughout your lawn. Controlling this food source with the use of insecticides before it begins is the best defense.

Be thorough and diligent in your elimination of food and shelter!

If you live in the Cincinnati or Northern Kentucky area and a skunk is creating a nuisance, trapping and removal may be the only long-term cost-effective solution. Trapping should be conducted by a trained, licensed professional to protect your family, pets and property as well as to ensure humane removal of the animal. A professional animal control expert can fully assess and address your animal nuisance problem.

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