Skunks have two characteristics that set them apart from other wildlife. They emit an unmistakable odor, not to mention foul, but we also recognize the animal immediately from the distinct white stripes running down its back. If you have one or more of these rather harmless, but smelly, animals living on your property and you’d prefer it lives elsewhere, it’s best to call in the experts in skunk removal Madison to avoid a spraying.
A Skunk of a Different Stripe
There are several different species of skunks that come in different shapes and sizes. The variations between these animals are not dramatic, but, in some species, they are enough that you might not recognize the creature for what it is. The spotted skunk is perhaps the one that has the most unique appearance of them all, followed by the hognose skunk or stink badger.
Even the striped skunk we are all familiar with does not always fit the image we have fixed in our minds! The two stripes down the back can vary in width from what you’re used to seeing, and sometimes there is only a single, white strip running from head to tail. To make matters more confusing, the striped skunk is occasionally not striped at all! Some individuals are born solid black or solid white. You might mistake a solid white skunk as an albino, but if its eyes are black and not red, it isn’t lacking color pigmentation and is truly white.
A Mark of Danger
When we see the black-and-white color pattern on an animal moseying across our yard, we immediately steer clear. This may be the point. It seems other creatures that would typically prey on similar animals, like bears and bobcats, are just as keen on avoiding the stinky creatures as we are. When one of them spots stripes, it turns in the opposite direction, leaving the animal alone and alive.
The interesting thing is that the color pattern isn’t the only way predators know to keep their distance. A skunk’s body shape is another indicator, so a solid white or black striped variety is just as safe as its normally patterned sibling. Predators do seem to learn to avoid skunks, though, rather than having an instinct that tells them to turn away. In areas where skunks are rarer, the appearance of one doesn’t seem to elicit the same response as it does where they are prevalent. This may indicate the reason why our pets don’t know to leave well enough alone!
A Perfect Aim
The color pattern on a skunk likely becomes associated with their one major defense mechanism after the animals in a region learn what happens when they get too close, and it may only need to occur once for an individual predator to learn its lesson! Skunks have surprisingly good aim, especially given that they have poor eyesight and that they are shooting from their backsides.
The pungent, oily substance is stored in glands underneath the skunk’s tail. When it takes aim, the glands shoot out a stream of the stinky stuff, rotating as they do so. They can reliably hit a target located 10 feet away! They don’t really want to spray, though, because, once they deplete their stash of stink, it takes up to 10 days to replenish it. Skunks usually give a warning that they are ready to take aim. They stomp their front feet, raise their tails, and bend into a “U-shape.” If you see these warning signs, it’s time to back away, slowly and calmly.
A Humane Response
Skunks are not a real danger to people or animals. They do carry rabies, but the risk of a bite is nominal. Even so, you might not want one living on your property! If you need help with humane skunk removal in Madison, contact us and we will remove the unwelcome guest to a more suitable environment.