Jan 27, 2013

Skunk Season

Have you noticed the large number of skunks dead on roadways lately? Are you noticing the smell of skunk in your garden? Have you found signs of an animal digging in your yard, or trying to get under your home?

It's skunk mating season!

For those experiencing problems with skunks in or around the Bay Area, please call Humane Pest Control, WildCare Solutions, or A Wildlife Exclusion Service for help. 

Skunks are mostly nocturnal creatures, foraging a half a mile or so from their den site, except in breeding season, when males will travel far and wide in search of receptive females.

Skunks are classified as carnivores, but their diet is quite varied. Skunks eat insects, snails, assorted fruits and berries, nuts, even seeds. They also do humans a great service by predating on mice, rats, and gophers.

The earliest legislation to protect skunks in the United States passed in 1893. It was in response to appeals from hop growers in New York who recognized the benefits of wild skunks. A quote from the Farmer's Bulletin of 1914:

Skunks are among the most useful of the native mammals and are most efficient helps to the farmer and orchardist in their warfare against insect and rodent pests.

Once thought to be closely related to weasels and classified in the "weasel family", Mustelidae, skunks were reclassified in their own family, Mephitidae, in 1998.The definition of the word mephitis means noxious exhalation from the earth. The latin name for the striped skunk - the most common species, is Mephitis mephitis.

Striped skunks are slow movers and poor climbers, which can be real trouble for those living in an urban setting. We commonly get calls to help skunks that are entrapped in manmade structures, like catch basins.

A case in point, this week we had to come to the rescue of two skunks - probably a male and female, that had fallen down a storm drain and could not escape.

On scene, responders found two adult skunks, busily trying to dig out of a drain pipe.

The task was fairly simple - remove the grate and wait. One skunk came out quickly and waddled off nto the brushy hillside, but the other stayed huddled inside the pipe.

The team left the grate off overnight and replaced it the next day after the skunk had left. Check out the rescue video, below.

Love skunks? Don't miss the full episode of Is That Skunk, below.