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How Skunks Survive the Cold Milwaukee Winters

The only thing worse than a skunk in your backyard is a skunk in your Milwaukee house, and that is something you want to avoid at all costs. Don’t be fooled into thinking that skunks are only a problem in the summer. Contrary to popular opinion, they don’t hibernate and you need to be on the lookout for skunk activity all year round.

Hunkering Down for the Winter

When skunks become scarce in winter they are not hibernating, they are merely less active, eating little and sleeping a lot. During the coldest months, they enter a state of torpor – a deep sleep where their metabolism, body temperature and breathing drops, but it is not full hibernation and they will wake up from time to time.

Skunks don’t hoard food in their dens. They binge eat in the fall to create a thick layer of fat underneath their skin. This fat keeps them warm during the winter and is metabolized when the skunk is dormant. Since they don’t stockpile food, skunks will leave their dens occasionally for nighttime foraging. They generally eat berries, nuts, insects, earthworms, snakes, frogs, and other small animals. And of course, our garbage. While other food sources are scarce in winter, there is always a regular supply of garbage around people, and this makes nesting near houses a very attractive option for skunks.

Cozy Dens

Skunks do not limit themselves to a single, they will move to a number of different dens during the year. This means that just because you don’t have skunks on your property in summer, doesn’t mean they won’t move in for the winter. Skunks can dig their own dens, but they prefer to look for nice snug spaces that someone else has created. In the wild, this might be an abandoned fox den, but in urban areas, it could easily be under your porch, deck or garden shed.

Skunks will prepare their dens for the winter by blocking the entrance with leaves and grass to keep the cold air out. They are usually solitary animals but will share a den for extra warmth. Even males, that do not tolerate each other for most of the year, can den together in winter.

Bad Houseguests

Skunks may appear fluffy and cute but a having one on your property is no joke. They rummage through garbage and wreak havoc in your garden. They can also cause damage to your home. They will burrow under any structure without a foundation, like a deck or garden shed, causing it to become unstable or collapse. The noxious odor emitted by skunks can linger for weeks and can be so unpleasant that it causes nausea and vomiting. It is extremely hard to remove skunk spray from clothes, skin or pet hair and if it enters your ventilation system it can quickly spread throughout the building.

If you hear a skunk hiss or stomp, do not approach it.

Health Risk

Skunks also pose a health risk. The sulfuric acid in skunk spray can sting the eyes and cause temporary blindness in people and pets. It is difficult to differentiate between a healthy skunk and one with rabies, so even a small skunk bite can be serious. Skunks can be very aggressive, and when cornered they will spray or bite, so it is important to have them removed from your Milwaukee property by professional animal control services.

Skedaddle Humane Wildlife Control helps you solve your skunk problems. As part of our services we assess your Milwaukee property, identify skunk dens and humanely remove them from your property. We seal any entry points and deodorize the surrounding area to deter other skunks from making your home their home.

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About the author:Marcus is the owner and operator of Skedaddle Humane Wildlife Control – Milwaukee. Born and raised in Milwaukee, Marcus combines the academic training (M.S. Wildlife Biology, UW Madison) with the field training and skills to be successful in resolving wildlife conflict for home and business owners.

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