Smell of the Wild – Skunk Control in Lake of the Ozarks
The skunk is one of several animals in North America whose name has Native American origins. Skunks feature in quite a few tales across several tribes, and often take the role of monsters. Some southeastern tribes admired skunks for their stalwart self-defense, and showcased them in a more positive light, as innocent defenders of self and family. The Cherokee nation actually believed skunks had powerful medicine in their scent that could ward off disease, so they would sometimes hang dead skunks over doorways during times of plague.
Skunks in Missouri
There are 13 species in the skunk family, with all but one found in the Americas. The exception to this rule is the Stink Badger, which is found in Indonesia. Missouri is home to two species of skunks – the Eastern Spotted Skunk, and the more common Striped Skunk.
Physical Features of Skunks
The smaller eastern spotted skunk (also known as a civit cat) has white splotches on it’s back and sides, and weighs less than 3 pounds, while the larger striped skunk (also known as the prairie polecat) has a black body with white stripes running from the top of the head through the length or it’s body, and can weigh up to 10-12 pounds. Eastern spotted skunks are a fully protected threatened species in Missouri.
Skunks are opportunistic feeders. They eat a mixture of plant and animal material. Their favorite foods include white grubs and several varieties of insects, but they have been known to feed on a variety of foods, including small mammals, fish, poultry, eggs, and garbage.
Skunks like to live in holes. They will use existing spaces, such as the space under decks, or dig their own. Their digging can undermine building foundations and cause property damage. Crawl spaces, woodpiles, automobiles, and scrap heaps also make favored homes for skunks.
Breeding and Social Structure
Skunks have a single annual litter, usually at the beginning of May. Juvenile males will leave the mother in July or August, but juvenile females will remain with the mother until the following spring. Early fall is a time when a lot of immature animals are active, which can cause some conflict with humans. Also, skunks are actively searching for food and looking for winter dens during this time. This is called the “fall shuffle”, and during this time adults and juveniles alike may settle under your house or business, or in other unwanted areas on your Lake of the Ozarks property in preparation for the cold months ahead.
Risks Associated with Skunks
Skunks in Missouri can carry a variety of parasites, including fleas, ticks, and mites. They are also a primary carrier of rabies, and can be the leading carrier of rabies in some areas. Seeing a skunk in the daytime is not a sure sign of rabies, as hungry skunks may forage at any time of day or night. However, if you see a skunk that is moving in an uncoordinated way or is having seizures, use extreme caution and do not attempt to engage the animal yourself, as this may be signs of an infected animal.
If you need skunk removal or control in your Lake of the Ozarks area home or business, call the professionals at Adair’s Animal Nuisance Trapping. Our experienced team of trained trappers will make sure the skunks are safely handled and removed from your buildings. We even repair the damage these smelly critters leave behind.