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Learn More About Skunks and How to get rid of them in Napa
Skunks in California
- There are 2 species of Skunks found in California, the Spotted Skunk (Spilodale gracilis) and the striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis). The Striped Skunk is the Most common skunk found in California and most likely the species of skunk you are having problems with. Skunks had been considered members of the weasel family but recently Zoologists have placed them in their own Family Mephitidae.
- Skunks have a triangular-shaped head and a moderately elongated body with short, muscular legs and long, sharp non-retractable claws. The striped skunk is about the size of an adult house cat, and its fur is mostly black with white on top of the head and neck. In most animals the white extends down the back, usually separating into two white stripes. Spotted skunks are black with white spots or short white streaks. They are smaller than the striped skunk, about half the size of a house cat.
- Striped skunks are primarily active at dawn, dusk, and at night but can be active during the daytime, particularly in human-use areas. Spotted skunks rarely venture out during the daytime. Both skunk species consume a highly-varied diet including insects, grubs, earthworms, small rodents, snakes, lizards, frogs, mushrooms, berries and fruit, pet food, and garbage. Skunks will also opportunistically feed on bird eggs, which can result in substantial losses to ground-nesting birds when skunk densities are high. Food items found in their diet will vary seasonally depending on availability.
- Breeding usually occurs during February and March for the striped skunk; gestation time is about 9 weeks and litters range from 4 to 6 kits. After 2 to 3 months, the kits can be seen following their mother as she makes her nightly rounds in search of food. Skunks are capable of breeding the spring following birth. The average life span of skunks is around 2 to 3.5 years, although they can occasionally live up to 7 years in the wild.
- Skunks often den in burrows. They will often use abandoned burrows dug by ground squirrels, foxes, or coyotes and will enlarge them if necessary. If dens are scarce, they will readily use brush piles, hollow logs, and culverts. In urban settings, they den under decks, porches, or beneath buildings. If other suitable dens are unavailable, skunks will dig their own dens. Skunks do not hibernate; but in regions with colder weather, they may congregate in communal dens during the winter.
- Skunks are attracted to residential areas by the availability of food, water, and shelter. They become a nuisance when they live under porches, decks, garden tool sheds, or homes. Their scent is usually not welcome around homes, and they often spray dogs that bark and approach rapidly. They like to feed on ripening berries and fallen fruit and cause other garden problems by digging while in search of grubs and other insects. They often search for food in lawns by digging small pits or cone-shaped depressions that range from 3 to 5 inches across. Like raccoons, they may also damage lawns by rolling back sections of sod in search of insects.
- Skunks have an excellent sense of smell and good hearing, but they have very poor vision. This poor vision explains why they are often hit by cars when crossing roads. A skunk may not react if a person more than 10 feet away is quiet and standing still or moving slowly. Healthy skunks are mild-tempered animals. They are not aggressive and, given the opportunity, prefer to flee rather than fight. They usually only defend themselves when suddenly frightened, cornered, or harmed. Skunks usually provide a warning before discharging their scent by stamping their forefeet rapidly, hissing, and arching their tail over their back. Skunks prefer not to spray given the time required to replenish their spray supply. Therefore, using caution around skunks should substantially reduce the possibility of being sprayed.
Skunks Can Be Vectors for Disease
Disease concerns occur when skunks take up residence in an urban or suburban setting. In California, skunks are one of the most common carriers of rabies, a viral disease transmitted by the bite of an infected animal. Skunks can also be carriers of other diseases including leptospirosis, listeriosis, canine distemper, canine hepatitis, Q-fever, and tularemiacan be active during the daytime, particularly in human-use areas. Spotted skunks rarely venture out during the daytime. Both skunk species consume a highly-varied diet including insects, grubs, earthworms, small rodents, snakes, lizards, frogs, mushrooms, berries and fruit, pet food, and garbage. Skunks will also opportunistically feed on bird eggs, which can result in substantial losses to ground-nesting birds when skunk densities are high. Food items found in their diet will vary seasonally depending on availability.
How To Get Rid of Skunks
I am a Professional Skunk Trapper and I have performed hundreds of skunk trapping and removal jobs in the Bay Area from San Mateo to Healdsburg. I have seen Skunks in all sorts of situations from under decks, under homes and sheds to Animals stuck behind retaining walls. Every situation presents a different problem. Sometimes the problems are solved as easily as setting a fence board into a Window Well to allow the Skunk to walk out on it’s own. Other times it calls for someone crawling under a deck and securing a barrier to ensure the skunk comes right to trap.
The best way to get rid of Skunks is By trapping and Removing them. There is No Magic Spray or Solution you can put out to get Rid of Skunks. Repellants do not work, you must trap and remove them if you want them gone.
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Taylor's Trapping Service
Identifying Skunk Activity
- Digging Next to an outside wall of home. Skunks Like to Burrow under buildings, Sheds, Houses, Garages. If you notice Dirt dug out from under a structure and pushed into a pile at the base of a hole or opening that is usually 3” to 4” in diameter. they can be larger then that but for the most part they need to be that size for skunks to comfortably move through them. That being said I have seen on video Skunks Squeeze through openings significantly Smaller on a broken foundation vent.
- Small Holes in Yard or Landscape. Skunks like to dig for grubs and worms and insects in your yard and landscaping. In doing this they will leave small little holes in your yard. I have had clients in the past mistake these small holes for Squirrel activity. I put out cameras and showed him video of the skunks digging in his yard.
- Strong Smell. Skunks Produce a strong odor called Musk. They Produce this Musk in two glands located near the Skunks Rear end. They Spray this Musk When they feel threatened by another animal or person. I get a lot of call from clients who have strong Skunk Smell coming from there Crawl space. They are usually under the incorrect assumption that a skunk sprayed under their home just to spray or that the Skunk is always that smelly. I unfortunately have to inform them that what most likely happened was either the skunk had made a den under the home and another animal came into its space which caused the skunk to spray, or the Skunk was new to the space and encountered another animals den.
- Broken Foundation Vent. Skunks Along with other Wildlife like too den in crawl spaces of homes. As mentioned previously they dig under the outside walls of homes if the home is sitting on footings and not a poured foundation. They will also utilize broken foundation vent as access points to gain entry.
- Dirt on siding and corners of siding. Skunks and other animals leave dirty oil from their coats on things they brush up against.Skunks will a lot of times walk right up on buildings, following the contours of the buildings, leaving dirt brushed up on corners. Also when an animal is using a specific spot to gain access a lot of times the area around that spot will be dirty. It will look dirty in such a way that the rest of the surrounding areas don’t. It is an easily identifiable sign of Wildlife activity.
- Tracks. Skunk tracks show five toes on the front foot and five on the hind foot. The front tracks usually show claw marks farther ahead of the toe marks than the rear prints do. This is because the skunk has longer claws on the front feet to use in digging up roots and insects.
Removing Skunks From a Crawl Space
How to Remove Skunks from a Crawl Space
Most People Find out they have a Skunk inn their crawl space once they smell it. Typically this means that a skunk ran into another animal under the house which caused it to spray it’s musk. If you find yourself in this type of situation don’t fear, I am going to give you the step by step on how I get them out and keep them out.
- Find out where the Skunks are getting in. It could be a very obvious foundation vent out in the open in an easily accessible spot. Or it could be under a low rise deck where the only option to it is remove deck boards.
- Make sure there is only one access point, if there is a second access and it is all connected to the common crawl space you will want to seal it up before you do anything else. If the second access point is on an addition that doesn’t have the same access to the main crawl space, I.e. it has it’s own official crawl space entrance for maintenance then you will want to set traps at this point as well.
- Now you have the house inspected and all other access points sealed up you will want to put 2 traps at the access point weather it is a hole under the foundation or a broken foundation vent. If a foundation vent I like to set my traps up in such a way that the bottom of the trap is sitting level with the bottom of the vent. I use cinder blocks when possible set under a piece of plywood. I almost always set two traps splitting the vent, this allows the traps to but up against the house on either side of the vent and keeps the skunks from avoiding the trap and sneaking out the side.
- If the skunks have dug into the crawl space you can’t set the traps up against the house or you will block the hole with the bottom of the trap. You will want to set the traps back 10-12 inches from the hole on top of a piece of plywood. The plywood will help present your bait and will make cleaning up after you remove the skunk a whole lot easier. The plywood will also keep any animals on the outside of the trap from digging under the trap and stealing your bait from below.
- I put vinyl covers over my traps when Im after skunks. I would for sure have these traps covered with something. You will avoid a huge headache in the morning when it comes time to remove the skunks.
- You will want to cut some more plywood the height of your traps. My traps are 12” high by 10” wide. So I cut all my plywood 12”, this way I can set any piece under a trap or next to it which allows me to isolate a space coming out of a hole to funnel animals into my traps and keep them from sneaking out the side. At this point I also set a piece of plywood across the top of the opening resting on the tops of the traps and the 2 pieces of plywood along the sides.
- I set Anything heavy on the top piece of Plywood and next to the side pieces. This keeps skunks or Raccoons from pushing them out and sneaking out instead of into the traps.
- I place just a bit (a few pieces of kibble) of cat food just inside the opening of the foundation vent or hole. This way the Skunks will at least get some bait right infront of them right away and it may get there appetite fired up and make them more willing to venture into the back of the trap where the main bait pile is waiting for them.
- At this point your traps should be set, covered, baited, and secured with either Cinder blocks or some type of heavy object. You should be all set until morning when you will check the traps at first light and quietly and carefully remove the Skunks.
If you need a Skunk Removed From a Crawl Space Call Ryan today and Schedule an Appointment.
Taylor’s Trapping Service
How to Perform Skunk Removal:
- First, you will need to know the laws in your city or state. California only allows Licensed professional trappers to perform the skunk removal.
- If you can remove the skunk you will need a cage with a trap-shutting door. Make sure the cage is large enough to contain the Skunk. You will also need a Cover for the cage. It should be made of Vinyl and large enough to cover the entire trap.
- Place a piece of plywood down where you have seen the Skunks and put the Trap onto of it.
- Bait the Trap by putting food at the end of it just past the trip pan. This way the Skunk will step on the trip pan when it goes for the food. I recommend The Smelliest Dry Cat Food you can find.
- You will most likely Catch the Skunk sometime during the night. You will want to check the trap early in the morning, as in when the sun is just rising early. When Checking the Trap unless you have a direct line of sight from a distance or a WiFi camera looking into the trap, always assume there is a Skunk in the trap. This means walk slow and quietly, open and shut doors of cars or homes slowly and shut them softly. Turn off Ringers to cell phones, and do not make any noise if possible, including talking to anyone. Often I am Walking up on a trap to check it or to cover a Skunk up and a Client will Open a door and Yell an untimely “Good Morning.” I try to give clients a heads up when I first meet with them that I will be back in the morning and I will be trying to be as quiet as possible. In addition, most important do not let the skunk see you. A skunk will not spray you if it cannot see where or what to spray. Approach the trap from the side if it is covered correctly. If it is not covered hold up a large moving blanket to hide yourself from the Skunk, Walk towards the trap in a straight line if possible and slowly set the blanket over the trap.
- From Time to Time you can do everything perfectly and the Skunk will still Spray.
- The Longer you let the Skunk get used to being in the covered trap that is completely void of light you will better your chances of not having a random skunk spraying event.
- Now You have the Skunk trapped and it must be taken off the property. Please know it is illegal to relocate wildlife in California.
- If you do no want to deal with skunk control, we highly recommend hiring Taylor’s Trapping Service to handle all of the for mentioned procedures Call us to schedule an appointment today.
If You are in the Solano, Napa, Sonoma Or Marin Counties Call Ryan Today. 707-761-3055
Nuisance concerns: Skunks are well known for their strong odor. People can often detect a single roadkilled skunk for miles. No homeowner appreciates this scent under their deck. Furthermore, a skunk in the area poses a constant threat to nosey pets. I've cleaned dogs that have been sprayed before, and believe me, the scent does not come off easily. Of course, no person wants to risk being sprayed by a startled skunk. Skunks frequently choose to live under human structures such as sheds, decks, or crawl spaces. They often discharge their scent in these places. Skunks are also common carriers of rabies.
How To Get Rid of Skunks: Two things need to take place to effectively get rid of Skunks. First the Skunk needs to be Trapped and removed from the property. Second the home or building needs to be sealed to prevent the Skunks or other animals from also gaining access, the term for this is Exclusion. If a skunk has made a Home in your crawl space or under your shed or deck, the Skunk needs be trapped and removed. You will want to use a trap large enough for the skunk to fit in. I recommend a trap that is 12 inches tall by 10 inches wide and 3 feet long. Most Traps have doors that when open extend past the front of the trap, which makes them ineffective when setting trap up against a home or open Foundation vent. You will want a Flush Mount Trap. This type of trap allows you to place them flush against a structure. When you are able to do this you eliminate the chance of a Skunk or Animal avoiding the trap and sneaking out to the side. The Skunks only way out will be into your trap. I recommend putting a cover over the trap at this point. I like to use a heavy vinyl cover. I cut the Vinyl in such a way that allows the 2 ends of the cover to be folded over leaving the 2 ends of trap open to give the feel of a corridor and not an enclosed space. This cover technique also allows you to sneak up on the trap with a Skunk in it without being seen. It also allows you to gently fold the 2 ends of the cover back over the ends of the trap to completely enclose the Skunk. It is Beneficial to set the bottom of the trap level with the bottom of the foundation vent if that is the opening where the skunks are getting in. I set Cinder blocks down to the height and then a 4’x2’ piece of plywood on the blocks. With this size of platform I can set 2 flush mount traps up on the opening. Setting 2 can help with the time it is going to take to clear the crawl space of all animals. Sometimes there are multiple Skunks in a Crawl space and all will need to be removed before it can be sealed up again. Once all of this is done you will need to bait the traps. I recommend a bit of Dry Cat Food right at the end of the trap just past the trip pan. Lastly if the opening the Skunks are using to gain access to your home is in the front of your house or in an area where people could possible walk by frequently you will want to put up another piece of plywood leaning against the ends of the traps. This will protect anyone who could Possibly pass by the traps and will help keep the Skunks calm and minimize the chance of them spraying while you are in the process of removing them from the property.