Humans have been scrunching their noses at the thought and smell of skunks since we’ve taken our first upright steps; they’ve been around for almost 2 million years in North America. Their genus, Mephitis, literally means noxious or foul-smelling. They are solitary creatures with poor eyesight but still manage to cause problems for residents of Bergen, Essex, and Passaic Counties. Milder winters have led to population increases, making human and pet interactions inevitable.
For the most part, they are a docile species, preferring flight over fight. Typically, when a skunk is threatened, they drop back into a defensive position, stomp their front paws, do a warning dance, and hiss at the threat. If that doesn’t work, they can charge at the presumed attack. If all else fails, they bring out the big guns, their horrible smelling spray. The oily substance is the last resort for a reason, one full blast can empty their glands, and it can take up to ten days to reload, leaving them defenseless. They try and control the amount released, giving them between five and eight smaller blasts. Hitting targets accurately ten to twelve feet away is normal, but they can reach up to 20 feet. However, the greater the distance, the more is expelled.
Skunk spray is an organic compound that has a sulfur base which gives it the rotten egg smell. It is so potent that the odor can be detected for up to a half-mile. That is, unless you are the one in a thousand people who can’t smell it. If it gets in your eyes, it can cause anywhere from a serious irritation to temporary blindness. Dogs in their inquisitive nature are often the victims. Even though there are home remedies, it is recommended to get your pet to a vet. There is a rare instance that the spray causes damage to red blood cells.
Unfortunately, there is more damage they can cause. Insects make up a large part of their diet, and to get their meal, they dig up three to four-inch holes in lawns and gardens. They generally stay in one small section until the food supply is exhausted, about three weeks, and then move to the next spot. Their powerful front paws and sharp claws are also used to create burrows under foundations, porches, and decks. They are also strong enough to tear away siding and wooden structures when searching for a new home. Even if you don’t see them, the strong smell is usually an indication of their presence. At that point, it is best to play it safe and call out New Day Pest Control for an inspection. It may just be that you have Great Horned Owls living nearby as they are the skunk’s top predator.
This mammal also poses a direct threat to our health in the form of transmissible diseases. A 2018 report by the CDC has skunks responsible for over 20% of reported rabies cases. They can also transmit tularemia and leptospirosis to people and, through contact with urine and feces, canine distemper, ringworm, and roundworm to our pets.
If skunks have invaded your property, contact the most trusted wildlife removal company in the area, New Day Pest Control. Our experts use the latest technology and training to get rid of the pest quickly and efficiently. At the first sign or smell of an issue, don’t hesitate; we are here to help.