Skunks & Raccoons

Skunks

What do Skunks look like?

The skunk is a nocturnal mammal that has jet black hair with prominent, white stripes that run down its back. It has short, stocky legs and large feet equipped with well-developed claws. The body of the striped skunk is about the size of an ordinary house cat weighing about 8 pounds.

What do Skunks eat?

Skunks are omnivorous – eating both plant and animal foods. Grasshoppers, beetles, and crickets are the insects most often eaten. Field and house mice are regular and important items in the skunk diet, particularly in winter.

What about their babies?

Adult skunks breed in late February to late March. Gestation usually lasts 7 to 10 weeks. There is usually only 1 litter per year. Litters commonly consist of 4 to 6 young, but may have from 2 to 16. The kits will stay with the female until fall.

Do Skunks hibernate?

No they don’t hibernate, however skunks are dormant for about a month during the coldest part of winter. They may den together in winter for warmth, but generally are not sociable.

What makes a Skunk a pest?

Skunks dig holes in lawns, golf courses, and gardens to search for insect grubs. Digging normally appears as small holes or patches of upturned dirt. They may burrow under porches or buildings by entering foundation openings. Garbage left outdoors may be raided by skunks.
Skunks discharge musk from the anal gland, are capable of firing several shots, and can spray 10 – 15 feet with amazing accuracy. Prior to spraying they usually give a warning by stomping their feet. Odor is not always a reliable indicator of the presence of skunks. Sometimes dogs, cats, or other animals that have been sprayed by skunks move under houses and make owners mistakenly think skunks are present.
Skunks that become a regular danger or nuisance need to be carefully live-trapped and removed. This should be left to a professional to avoid being sprayed.
Here is a recipe you can make at home, which is very effective against skunk odors. Apply the mixture directly to the sprayed surface. DO NOT store the mixture in plastic bottles.

  • 1-quart of 3% Hydrogen Peroxide
  • 1/4 cup of Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon of Liquid Soap
  • Wash while it is bubbling…rinse off with tap water.

Raccoons

What does a Raccoon look like?

The raccoon is nocturnal stocky mammal about 2 to 3 feet, weighing 10 to 30 pounds. It is distinctively marked, with a prominent black “mask” over the eyes and a heavily furred, ringed tail. The “coon” is a grizzled salt-and-pepper gray and black, although some individuals are strongly washed with yellow.

What do Raccoons eat?

Raccoons are omnivorous, eating both plant and animal foods, such as fruits, nuts, berries, grain, bird eggs, insects, small rodents, etc. Contrary to popular myth, raccoons do not always wash their food before eating, although they frequently play with their food in water.

What about their babies?

Raccoons usually breed in February or March and have a 60 day gestation. A litter can be from 1- 8 pups, with 4 or 5 being the average. Young are born from March to June and open their eyes at about 3 weeks of age. The pups are usually weaned at 8 – 12 weeks. Raccoons nest in tree cavities, chimneys, ground burrows, sewers, attics, garages, etc.

Do Raccoons hibernate?

Raccoons do not truly hibernate in winter, but “hole up” for days, weeks, or even months, depending on the weather. Family groups of raccoons usually remain together for the first year and the young will often den for the winter with the adult female.

What makes a Raccoon a pest?

Raccoons enter homes for shelter in the winter. They often cause damage to vents and shingles when entering attics. They will enter chimneys and rest on the smoke-shelf behind the damper in the fireplace. Typical entries are roof vents, louver vents, soffit vents, construction gaps, rotten fascia boards, and chimneys. Raccoons may even rip through the roof if the wood is soft.
Garden crops are often raided (especially sweet corn), as are garbage cans. Raccoons will roll sod for worms, grubs, and insects.
Raccoons carry ecto-parasites such as fleas, mites, and ticks. They are also host to more serious diseases like raccoon roundworm and rabies. In addition, they can be very aggressive when trapped or threatened. Trapping and removal of raccoons should be left to a professional.

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