Virginia Professional Wildlife Removal Services, LLC
Telephone: (804) 457-2883
SKUNK TRAPPING AND REMOVAL
According to the Virginia Department of Health, skunks are the main carrier of rabies in the State of
Virginia. For this reason, skunk removal, skunk trapping, and skunk control in Virginia should be left
to a professional nuisance animal control company like Virginia Professional Wildlife Removal
Services. Our top-rated wildlife removal technicians provide the best nuisance skunk trapping,
removal, exclusion and clean-up in Virginia - including the cities of Richmond and Charlottesville; as
well as the counties of Albemarle, Goochland, Louisa, Fluvanna, Orange, Powhatan, Henrico and
Hanover County, and the towns of Mineral, Gordonsville, Earlysville, and Keswick.
The Striped Skunk (Mephitis Mephitis) is the skunk that causes the most problems throughout
Virginia, although the Eastern Spotted Skunk (Spilogale putorius) is also found in the State. Skunks
are members of the weasel family (Mustelidae).
Striped skunks are short, stocky mammals about the size of a domestic house cat. They typically
have a triangular-shaped head tapering to a blunt nose, a large bushy tail, and large feet equipped
with well-developed claws. Their color pattern is typically characterized by two prominent white
stripes down the back in a coat of jet black fur. The amount of white on the back varies
tremendously, from just a patch on the head to stripes covering the entire back.
Spotted skunks are about one-half the size of striped skunks and are much more weasel-like. They
are readily distinguishable by white spots in front of each ear and on the forehead and four to six
broken white stripes on the back. These animals are much more nervous than striped skunks and
are better climbers. Spotted Skunks are protected in Virginia.
Skunks are nocturnal, becoming active from sunset to slightly after sunrise. Female skunks are not
great travelers, whereas male skunks may travel up to four or five miles a night during breeding
season. Skunk home ranges normally vary from one to one and a half miles in diameter.
Skunks mate in February and the young are born in May and June. Usually five to nine young kits
are born in a litter, but there can be as many as 18 or as few as two. Young skunks are weaned
when they are about two months old. Families break up during August and September when the
young leave to find their own homes.
Skunks become a problem when they dig under foundations; take up residence under a house,
porch, or building; dig in lawns, golf courses, and gardens for insect larvae or roots; disturb refuse
and garbage cans; or kill and eat poultry eggs or fowl. Skunk diggings normally appear as 3- to
4-inch cone-shaped holes or patches of upturned earth. Be cautious, as many other animals,
including domestic dogs, also dig in lawns. Skunks can also damage beehives as they feed on
adult and larval bees. Another problem that Virginia Professional Wildlife Removal Services
sometimes encounters is when a skunk inadvertently falls into an open window well.
Skunks are prone to distemper and rabies and therefore can pose a health risk to the community. If
you notice a skunk acting strangely (aggressive or nervous, wandering in the daytime, or tame and
listless), do not approach it. Parents should warn children never to approach or pet a skunk or any
other wild animal.
Virginia Professional Wildlife Removal Services specializes in odor-free skunk removal.
Description of Damage
Skunks become a nuisance when their burrowing and feeding habits conflict with humans. They
may burrow under porches or buildings by entering foundation openings. Garbage or refuse left
outdoors may be disturbed by skunks. Skunks may damage beehives by attempting to feed on
bees. Occasionally, they feed on corn, eating only the lower ears. If the cornstalk is knocked over,
however, raccoons are more likely the cause of damage. Damage to the upper ears of corn is
indicative of birds, deer, or squirrels. Skunks dig holes in lawns, golf courses, and gardens to
search for insect grubs found in the soil. Digging normally appears as small, 3- to 4-inch (7- to
10-cm) cone-shaped holes or patches of upturned earth. Several other animals, including domestic
dogs, also dig in lawns.
Skunks occasionally kill poultry and eat eggs. They normally do not climb fences to get to poultry.
By contrast, rats, weasels, mink, and raccoons regularly climb fences. If skunks gain access, they
will normally feed on the eggs and occasionally kill one or two fowl. Eggs usually are opened on
one end with the edges crushed inward. Weasels, mink, dogs and raccoons usually kill several
chickens or ducks at a time. Dogs will often severely mutilate poultry. Tracks may be used to
identify the animal causing damage. Both the hind and forefeet of skunks have five toes. In some
cases, the fifth toe may not be obvious. Claw marks are usually visible, but the heels of the
forefeet normally are not. The hindfeet tracks are approximately 2 1/2 inches long (6.3 cm). Skunk
droppings can often be identified by the undigested insect parts they contain. Droppings are 1/4 to
1/2 inch (6 to 13 mm) in diameter and 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 cm) long.
Odor is not always a reliable indicator of the presence or absence of skunks. Sometimes dogs,
cats, or other animals that have been sprayed by skunks move under houses and make owners
mistakenly think skunks are present. (Source: James E. Knight, Extension Wildlife Specialist,
Animal and Range Sciences, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT)
Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system. Animals most often
infected include raccoons, skunks, foxes, and bats. The virus is present in the saliva and nervous
tissue of a rabid animal. Be particularly wary of animals that act strangely, especially those that are
unusually tame, aggressive, or appear to be paralyzed. Be suspicious of daytime activity of skunks,
which are usually most active at night.
Wild animals as well as cats, dogs, ferrets, and livestock may contract rabies. Thus it is important to
have all dogs and cats regularly vaccinated for rabies. If your pet has been in a fight with another
animal, wear gloves to handle it. Isolate it from other animals and people, and telephone your local
health department or animal control officer for instructions.
If you or someone you know is bitten or scratched by a skunk, wash the wound thoroughly with soap
and water and contact your physician immediately. Rabies post-exposure vaccinations may be
necessary. Consult with your local health department or physician for additional information.
(Source: Kristi L. Sullivan and Paul D. Curtis, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Wildlife Damage