Tendencies and Symptoms of a Skunk Problem
Often times, striped skunks tend to dig burrows or dens under low slung decks, porches, and even slab foundations found under garages and sheds. The most obvious sign that it is a skunk you are dealing with is the scent. Skunk dens generally emanate skunk odor into the surrounding area, and even into your home. Other characteristics of skunks you may find are damage to lattice or skirting under your deck, trails or footpaths, visible digging or tunneling, and evidence of “grubbing” in your lawn. Grubbing will appear as intermittent scraped or scratched patches throughout the feeding area (your lawn).
The skunk, generally solitary, in most cases will develop a den underneath your structure. They intend to use this den for many purposes including shelter from the elements, safe haven from predators, food cacheing, hibernation, mating, and rearing their young.
Skunks tend to be one of the most docile and harmless animals we deal with, however there are certainly many risks involved with having skunks around your home. Foremost of which, skunks are a vector for the rabies virus, and may be carrying it even if they do not show symptoms.
“…The striped skunk seems to be particularly vulnerable to rabies, and in New York, is second only to the red fox in the rate of infection with this disease. Rabid skunks tend to be diurnal in their habits, and can be very aggressive. They occasionally attack other animals such as livestock, pets, and man.” SUNY ESF
In addition to rabies, skunks bring an assortment of other negative consequences with them. Skunk spray is very powerful. Having skunks develop a community around you will generally increase the risk of you or your pet coming into contact with a skunk and potentially getting spayed. A conflict, however, is not necessary for skunk odor to be a problem. Skunk odor may emanate from around the den potentially contaminating the air quality around your property or even in your home. Presence of skunks could potentially cause attraction of other animals including more skunks, allies like Opossums, and even predators like Coyotes. Digging from skunks may also undermine foundations, or otherwise compromise the structural stability of footings on your building or porch.