fluffy skunk

Fluffy skunk

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Do You Know What Type of Skunk That Is?

Despite their reputation, the skunks that live among us can be beneficial animals. They quietly provide some homeowners with a natural form of pest control, eating many of the rodents and insects that we otherwise would not care to have as houseguests.

Skunk activity can also get out of hand quickly. In their search for food, water and shelter, skunks can become pests that damage both your yard and home. Here are some quick tips for identifying the skunks in your area — and for helping keep their activity under control.

Types of Skunks

There are twelve species of skunks, four of which you’re most likely to encounter on your property.

Striped skunks

(Mephitis mephitis) are commonly found in suburban neighborhoods, among other habitats. They are black and usually about the size of a house cat. They also have prominent white stripes on their snout, as well as a white v-shaped marking on the back of their bodies. They are the largest of any skunk species and can weigh up to 14 pounds.

Hooded skunks

(Mephitis macroura) are sometimes mistaken for striped skunks, but their tails are longer and their fur is softer. Hooded skunks also sport distinctive tufts of fur around their necks. Some hooded skunks have two thin white stripes running down their backs and tails, while others have a single thick stripe and a solid white tail.

Hog-nosed skunks

(Conepatus mesoleucus) are large skunks (2.5 to 6 pounds) marked with a single broad white stripe that runs all the way from nose to tail. They inhabit rocky or sparsely timbered regions of North America. A large population can be found in Texas. Their long claws and snouts make them excellent diggers, and they will root through the soil for food.

Spotted skunks

1-4 are divided into eastern (Spilogale putorius) and western (Spilogale gracilis) varieties. If you see a skunk climbing a tree, then it is likely an eastern spotted skunk. Eastern spotted skunks have several broken white stripes along their backs and a black tip on its tail that’s generally shorter than the tail of other skunks. The western spotted skunk, instead has a white tip on its tail and broader white stripes on its back. These skunks are small, weighing anywhere from 14 ounces to 2 pounds.

Many animals will hide or camouflage themselves when a predator is near, but skunks give a warning instead. For instance, striped skunks and hooded skunks may stomp their feet, hiss, puff up their fur or raise their tails before finally using the stinky weapon for which they are most known.

Skunk Spray

Skunks are generally not aggressive, but like almost all animals, they will defend themselves when they feel threatened. Skunks are equipped with special glands located underneath their tails. These glands produce an oily liquid known as skunk musk. When skunks perceive a threat, they spray their attacker with this musk. The chemical makeup of skunk musk varies by species, but each version contains compounds called thiols that are responsible for the foul smell.

Skunk spray can travel up to 10 feet (though odor can be detected further away), and when striped skunks and hooded skunks take aim, they are amazingly accurate. Skunk musk is generally harmless. However, it can cause nausea in some people, and if it does come into contact with your eyes, it can cause temporary blindness. The foul odor is also temporary, but it still may linger for days and defy the most valiant attempts to wash it off or cover it up.

Skunk Habits

Skunks will dig their own burrows, but they often prefer occupying those constructed by other animals. Skunks also make dens in hollow logs, and you may even find them under your deck, shed or foundation.

Skunks are nocturnal creatures and prefer to forage for their food at night. They are also omnivorous and will consume everything from rodents and birds to insects, birdseed, pet food or household garbage.

Skunk Pros and Cons

Having skunks on your property can be a blessing or a curse, depending on your perspective. They do eat many kinds of harmful agricultural and garden pests, such as root-damaging grubs. Skunks can be especially beneficial in rural areas, where they also feed on grain-infesting and disease-transmitting rats and mice.

However, skunks are scavengers and will likely feed on whatever you have handy. On farms, skunks have been known to munch on corn stalks, take poultry or eggs and even damage bee hives. In urban areas, their digging can also be a nuisance, leaving holes in lawns, gardens and golf courses.

Skunk holes can be 1 to 3 inches in diameter and depth. And in their effort to find grubs and insects, the holes may move from section to section each night.

Skunk Control Measures

If you’re dealing with a skunk problem on your property, here are some tips for helping get these animals under control.

  1. Clean up your yard and dispose of debris, such as lumber, fence posts, rock piles and other things that may provide skunks a place to settle in.
  2. Clean up garbage, and if possible, don’t leave pet food outdoors if you live in an area with a known skunk population. Doing so will also help control rodents, a favorite skunk food source.

Should you discover any skunks living under your house or garage, you can always contact the pest professionals at Terminix®. We offer free inspections for wildlife removal services tailored to meet your needs.

The Time Length for Termite Damage

According to the National Pest Management Association, Termites cause over 5 billion dollars in damage per year in the United States.

Are Garter Snakes Poisonous? It’s Time to Shed the Falsehoods

Have you ever happened upon a small snake slithering through the grass? There are more than 50 species of snakes living in the United States, and while a number of dangerous snakes can be found sneaking around homes, many snakes found in backyards belong to the garter snake species, which don’t pose a threat. Garter snakes are one of the most common snakes found in North America and they appear throughout most regions of the United States and Canada. In fact, many are sold and kept as pets.

How to Identify a Fire Ant Mound

Fire ants are more than just annoying insects that may leave itchy stings—they can also be destructive. The red-imported fire ant, often referred to as RIFA, is an invasive species and has been known to prey on other native insect species as well as plants, with some fire ants even preying on small mammals many times their own size. Their invasive and destructive behaviors are why it’s important to know how to recognize both the ants themselves and where they reside.

Why Are Bees Important?

You’ve probably heard the phrase “Save the bees” in the last few years. But you might not know why it’s a detriment that our bee population is in danger—or why bees are so important in the first place. Bees are small after all, most around half an inch in size. How could one insect smaller than a quarter contribute so much to life on earth? But even if it seems improbable, bees are that important, and they are a valuable species in many different ecosystems. Keep reading to learn why.

The Ins and Outs of Fly Light Traps

Be it flies, moths and some beetles, a large number of pests are drawn toward lights. Though pests like some species of cockroaches, such as smoky-brown cockroaches, are highly attracted to light, most flying insects will surround a light source. While this can be a nuisance during a relaxing evening out on the porch, light can also be used to trap and kill these annoying pests.

Ticks vs. Bed Bugs: The Big Difference

You never want to see a tick on your body or a bed bug in your home. And especially when it comes to the latter, seeing one usually means there are others around. On the surface, ticks and bed bugs might seem similar: They are both pests that like to bite and feed on blood. But in fact, there’s more than one difference between these two creatures

Cleaning Tips to Help Prevent Pests in Your Home

A messy home can cause stress, health issues and, worst of all, bugs. Pests like to enter homes and cause chaos for the unsuspecting homeowners. The best way to prevent pests inside is to have a strong treatment plan and a spotless home.

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Squirrel Damage Control

With their big fluffy tails and perky ears, squirrels might seem like they’re too cute to be rodents. In fact, squirrels are part of the scientific order Rodentia, just as rats and mice are. And just like rats and mice, squirrels can cause plenty of damage and mess—especially since squirrels are particularly prone to chewing through things

Are Garter Snakes Poisonous? It’s Time to Shed the Falsehoods

Have you ever happened upon a small snake slithering through the grass? There are more than 50 species of snakes living in the United States, and while a number of dangerous snakes can be found sneaking around homes, many snakes found in backyards belong to the garter snake species, which don’t pose a threat. Garter snakes are one of the most common snakes found in North America and they appear throughout most regions of the United States and Canada. In fact, many are sold and kept as pets.

Bumble Bees vs. Honey Bees

Some people might use the names “bumble bee” and “honey bee” interchangeably, especially since both are flower-visiting insects, important for flower and crop pollination. But in fact, the two groups of bees are very different. At the species level, there are over 250 species of bumble bees while there are only a few different species of honey bees. Keep reading for an overview of bumble bees vs. honey bees to learn more about the differences and similarities between the two informal groups.

How to Help Get Rid of Sparrows Around Your Home

Getting rid of sparrows is a difficult task and may require a combination of methods to reduce their numbers. Sparrows are aggressive and social birds that are competitive by nature towards other native birds.

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Are all bats nocturnal? Learn about their nightly routine, including how long they stay out and what time bats return to roost, or contact Terminix for professional removal services.

What Does a Raccoon Sound Like?

Ring tailed bandit, night bandit, coon, night raider. Raccoons have many nicknames thanks to their obvious appearance, but what does a raccoon sound like?

Did you know there are 12 types of skunks? Some are hooded, spotted, striped and even hog-nosed. Learn what makes them different and which you’re likely to see.