As the weather turns colder here in Ontario, you may begin to think about staying in more, slowing your pace of life, and eating foods that are comforting and warming. It isn’t all that different for many wildlife critters. Many animals cope with the changing temperatures and less-abundant food sources by fattening up in the fall and then hunkering down and sleeping the winter away. How do skunks handle the cold? If you see signs of a skunk in your yard, it may be preparing for winter. Skedaddle’s humane skunk removal in Ajax can ensure you don’t have an unwelcome winter guest.
Prepping for the Winter
Skunks are omnivores, meaning that they eat an assortment of meat and plant foods. They often dig for grubs and ground-dwelling insects, but they also consume frogs, snakes and birds’ eggs. If you leave your trash bin unsecured, they are happy to munch on the leftovers you just threw away. Skunks supplement animal sources with plants, grains, grasses and fruit.
As the temperatures begin to drop, skunks start eating more of everything they can get their paws on. They pack on the pounds, storing the extra calories to help get them through the lean winter months. This extra fat allows them to survive when food sources are scarce, but it isn’t enough unless they change their behaviours as well.
Hunkering Down in the Winter
Skunks do not hibernate. Hibernating animals are dormant for long periods throughout the winter. They may wake occasionally to seek out food, but they generally sleep for several days up to several months at a time. During this time, their metabolism slows way down, and their body temperatures drop. These biological changes dramatically reduce their caloric needs, allowing them to survive on the fat they’ve stored.
Torpor is similar to hibernation, but the periods of dormancy don’t last as long. Skunks enter into a state of torpor. They are dormant for extended periods in a day, but they may be active for a short time. Though skunks are inactive in the winter, they may rouse from their dens during warmer weather to seek food.
Nesting With Others for Warmth
Skunks are generally solitary creatures, except for females and their kits. However, when the temperatures turn south, they toss aside their preferences for living alone. Males frequently den together in groups. The extra bodies help them stay warm. In the fall, these animals begin their search for a place to hole up and nest for the winter. Your property may provide the perfect setting.
Though skunks have claws made for digging, they prefer dens that have been abandoned by other animals or ready-made hideouts under porches or decks. Though you won’t likely see much activity during the winter months from any resident skunks, once they do become active again, they may decide to stick around for a while, particularly if it’s a mother and her kits. Look for evidence of a den, such as:
- Pawprints leading up to a potential den site
- A pile of leaves and grasses placed over an opening
- A musty odour around your deck or porch
If you notice any of these signs, contact the experts for help.
Getting Help With Humane Skunk Removal in Ajax
At Skedaddle Humane Wildlife Control, we know how to manage skunk removal so that the animals, including any kits, remain safe. Skunks spray when they feel threatened, and a mother skunk may attempt to bite and claw anyone who seems like they are a danger to her little ones. You should not attempt to take care of the issue on your own. If you think you have skunks that are preparing to bed down for the winter on your property, get in touch with our office to schedule services.