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March 04, 2014

Skunks

By Tucker Hogarth

skunks-650sfwSkunks are very common throughout Michigan and are known to cause damage to lawns due to their burrowing and digging for grubs. They can often be found under decks and on occasion, can get into homes and buildings without proper exclusion. Though most people think skunks spray anything they come in contact with, they typically only spray when they feel extremely threatened. To avoid the wrath of their spray, it is best to keep your distance to avoid making the animal feel like it’s in danger.

Preventing Skunks

Trapping skunks are one of the easiest ways to control. This prevents further lawn damage while relocating them to a different area. It’s best to cover the trap with a blanket or burlap; skunks tend to avoid spraying if they can’t see their target. However, it’s always best to call a professional when dealing with the trapping and relocation of skunks. This is mainly avoid being sprayed or bitten, as skunks can carry rabies. It’s also important to make sure your home has proper exclusion (fences and sealing under decks).

Skunks don’t have many predators; Great Horned Owls will kill and eat skunk. Younger skunks are occasionally taken on by foxes, coyotes, and large dogs. Male skunks are slightly larger than females. They are comparable in size to a domestic cat. Female skunks usually reproduce once a year, although males may reproduce with multiple females, and some will travel upwards of 2 to 10 miles to find a female to breed with. Breeding starts in February and March and usually produces a litter between 4 and 7 babies. Males become independent from their mother by July, while the females continue to follow their mother until the following spring. Both males and females become sexually mature around 10 months of age. Most skunks do not survive their first year due to harsh weather conditions or diseases. After their first year they can live up to seven years in the wild and up to ten years in captivity, considering they stay clear of predators, cars and hunters.

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