Late Feb. through
Young are born:
Late April through
Mid May-Late Jul.
Young skunks may remain in the den through early August (mine are still
here as of August 10).
Feature - Angie Brown
Just when I thought I'd photographed about everything I can in
the back yard (except for the camera-shy raccoons), I have new tenants
under the back deck. For now I've named them Pepe and Peter. They're
just babies right now, and we've been seeing them during the day
as early as 9 a.m. and as late as 7 p.m. Needless to say, we keep
our eyes wide open when we're outside now.
Although Doug (my husband) and I were somewhat upset when we first
noticed the skunks (he walked between them on the sidewalk to the
front door, and I just about ran into one on the doorstep after
getting the mail), we've done some homework and have learned a lot:
can carry rabies, but so can raccoons, oppossums, bats, dogs, cats,
etc. No, they're not born with it. Skunks get rabies by contact
with a rabid animal, just like everyone else. As with any wild animal,
enjoy them from a distance!
you have a skunk in your yard and call City of Arlington (for those
of you who aren't local it's in Texas), the recourse is to set a
live trap for it. When it is caught, they will kill it on the spot.
It might, however, sit there in the trap all day while you wait
for someone to come - this happened in my co-worker's yard last
summer, during the 100+ degree heat.
are born with the ability to spray. However, until they are several
months old they can neither aim very well nor spray very far. When
a skunk is about to spray, you will have some warning. First, she
will turn around and face her back end at the threat (hey, I'm outta
there by that point!), and stomp her feet. If you haven't got the
message by then, then heaven help you!
can only see a few feet in front of their faces - probably the reason
we see so many as roadkill. Try not to be too sneaky if you suspect
they're around but you can see that they're not near. They're probably
more afraid of you than you are of them! If you should suddenly
find yourself up close to one, though, then it's time to be very
quiet and move slowly. You don't want to appear threatening.
skunks are wanderers and normally don't stay in one place for more
than a few days.
addition to eating seeds, berries, etc. skunks eat mice, rats, moles,
snails, snakes, grubs, cockroaches and a host of other insects.
Seems to me that they earn their keep!
over 70 years, people have actually bred and raised skunks (de-scented,
of course) to keep as pets. They come in many different colors,
not just the black and white of the wild ones. In captivity, skunks
can live to be more than 20 years old. In the wild, however, two
to three years is about it.
Sources for this article include the following sites, which are
also recommended for further reading:
(Society of Kind Understanding for Not Killing Skunks)
A very informative site! Includes myths about skunks, how to discourage
them from being near your home, what to do if you or your pet gets
sprayed, and much more.
you find that you have a skunk living in a place he shouldn't be, check
with the S.K.U.N.K.S. site listed above for help on making the skunk's
hiding place less desireable: trap and kill is NOT your only option, nor
is it recommended at all unless it has bitten someone! My favorite tip
(and one that can be used with any unwanted critter) is to sprinkle
flour near the opening -- they'll leave footprints so you can tell if
they're in or out before blocking up the hole.
For the last five years, my husband and I have maintained our yard naturally.
We've provided plants with edible fruits and seeds, water, and a brush
pile for shelter. Those of us who have created backyard wildlife habitats
really have no right to expect that we'll get to pick and choose the creatures
that enjoy it.
So what am I going to do about my skunks? Watch, learn, take pictures,
try not to startle one, appreciate that they eat mice and rats, and wait
for these beautiful creatures to move on.