Skunks provide more of a benefit than some people realize; they eat many pest insects that cause damage to your lawn and garden. However skunk problems typically arise when they spray in defense, dig holes in search of food, or burrow in and around your home for shelter.
Members of the weasel family, there are four species of skunks in North America: striped, hooded, spotted and hog-nosed.
The most common are striped skunks, measuring 20 to 30 inches long (including the tail) and weigh approximately 6 to 10 pounds with two wide stripes on the back that meet on the head. Nocturnal by nature, skunks have a litter of 1-7 young in late April through early June.
Skunks are slow-moving animals but have strong forefeet and long nails which make them excellent diggers.
Skunks will usually only attack when cornered or defending their young. Spraying is not the first method of defense. Skunks will growl, spit, fluff their fur, shake their tail, and stamp the ground. If the intruder does not leave, they will lift their tail and spray their famous skunk odor.
The spray is a sulfur compound that has a range of up to 15 feet. The glands that hold the spray hold enough for 5-6 sprays. Skunk control can be tricky since you want to avoid getting sprayed.
Skunks are found throughout the US, Canada and Mexico. Skunks like warm dry, dark defensible locations. They have adapted to building dens in decks, trash dumps and woodpiles. When foraging for food, skunks will often travel 5-10 miles.
Skunks are omnivorous. Their diet typically consists of beetles, larvae and earthworms. Skunks are also know to eat field mice, small rodents, lizards, garbage, eggs, and fallen fruit.
Problems arise with skunks when they determine that your yard is the best place for their den and that your garbage cans hold a delicious and accessible smorgasbord!