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Eastern Spotted Skunk (Spilogale putorius) and Striped Skunk (Mephitis mephitis)
There are two types of skunks in Alabama. Neither are protected or endangered, though the spotted skunk is less common and normally found only inthe southwestern part of the state. Both species are mostly nocturnal, but you may see them forage for food during daylight hours on occasion. Both are den dwellers and may opt for a cozy spot under your porch or in the crawl space of your home in suburban areas.
Skunks can carry rabies, but most people chose to avoid them because of the defensive musk they spray when threatened. Skunks are not aggressive, but they can cause damage to lawns and gardens as they dig around hunting for grubs. Skunks leave a distinct cone shaped hole when they dig for insects. A skunk living on your property is an understandable cause for concern. Trying to remove the pungent smell of skunk musk from your family pet (or family member) is an arduous and unpleasant task.
To prevent skunks from moving in on your property:
- remove piles of wood or junk from the area
- seal garbage cans and secure pet food bins
- use insecticides to control grubs and lawn pests
- install fencing that extends below ground at least twelve inches around buildings and seal your foundation
If a skunk has already made a home under your house or in your garage, proceed with caution. The “effective casualty range” for skunk musk is twenty feet. It is best to leave a means of egress open for the skunk to leave on his own after dark. You may want to put flour or cornmeal on the ground so that you can see his tracks leaving the scene. Once the intruder and any young offspring are gone, you can seal the hole behind them.
Skunks are easily trapped or shot; however, alarming them in any way can cause them to release their musk. Shooting a skunk can be quite dangerous, as death may not occur instantly. Even after death, the musk may be released as a result of handling the body too roughly. Review the video link on this page for tips on trapping skunks.