First Baby Skunks at WildCare
Something must have happened to the mother of the baby Striped Skunk in the video above and his siblings. At this age, approximately 5 – 6 weeks old, baby skunks should stay mostly in their den, even when mom goes hunting. But when mom doesn’t come back, the young skunks will eventually reach a point of hunger and desperation that drives them out of their cozy den in search of food.
An Oakland, California homeowner found one such baby in the window well of his home. He rescued the little animal from the well, but didn’t realize that he was too young to be on his own. The homeowner let the young skunk go in the yard.
But then he saw another skunk on his property, and must have panicked a little bit. People are leery of skunks. Even young ones can spray (not much, but some), and that makes people nervous.
When the homeowner saw more than one of the small, black and white creatures in his yard, he called a trapper, just wanting to be rid of the problem. The trapper trapped and killed two little skunks before a neighbor spotted one and called WildCare for help. To date, two baby skunks have been rescued from the site, and the homeowner now knows about our Wildlife Hospital. He has also learned a lot about humane alternatives to trapping services.
WildCare wants everyone to know that humane alternatives to trapping exist, including our WildCare Solutions service!
These babies were almost old enough to leave their den with their mother and start to explore her territory. That is the first thing WildCare tells homeowners that find they have unwanted wildlife neighbors– they won’t stay long!
When the babies are old enough, the family will disperse and the young skunks will find their own territories. Once they have moved on, you can call in a professional humane wildlife exclusion service like WildCare Solutions to confirm that no animals remain in the den and to properly seal it up to prevent another skunk from finding it. Problem solved. (For more information and to set up an appointment with a WildCare Solutions specialist, call 415-453-1000 x23.)
Remember, the only way to permanently eliminate a nuisance animal problem is to get rid of what is attracting the animals! Wildlife is drawn to sources of food, water or shelter. If your property provides any of these things, animals will find them.
Skunk mating season was in late January and February, so pregnant mother skunks needing comfortable den sites may soon be moving in underneath porches or in spaces under outbuildings. Obviously some skunk mothers have already given birth.
If this happens on your property, WildCare asks you to keep a couple of things in mind. First, as discussed above, the situation is only temporary. Within two months, the skunk family will have moved on.
Second, give some thought to the benefits that a resident skunk provides!
Many people don’t realize that skunks actually make excellent neighbors (as long as you don’t startle them!) For one thing, skunks thrive on the slugs, snails, insects and grubs that plague your garden. Especially after a wet winter, gardens will be full of munching pests. Instead of using poisons that can harm the environment, allow your resident skunk to take care of the problem!
Skunks also devour lots of rats, mice and other small rodents, providing natural rodent control. These mid-size carnivores are called “beneficial predators” because they are such an integral part of nature’s pest control. Allowing skunks to do their job will maintain a natural balance of predators and prey in our neighborhoods.
Skunks will also eat species that can be dangerous to us, like Black Widow Spiders and scorpions. What great neighbors!
The only caveat to having skunks in the area, is not to startle them.
Skunks have few defense mechanisms– they’re not fast, they don’t climb well and, although they do have claws and teeth, they are not fighters. Skunks have developed their eye-watering spray as their primary defense mechanism, but they would prefer to avoid using that too. A skunk only has a limited amount of spray in his anal glands, and he uses it judiciously, lest he be left completely defenseless.
A skunk will give a lot of warning before spraying, stomping his feet, flashing his tail with its bold black and white stripes, and scooting backwards. He will use his spray if a predator continues to advance (the reason many dogs get sprayed— they simply don’t understand the skunk’s warning language!), but if given the opportunity, most skunks would prefer to flee the scene without spraying at all.
WildCare recommends you let skunks know you’re entering your yard, especially at dawn and dusk, and especially before letting pets out. Clapping your hands, stomping your feet, even calling out can tell a nearby skunk that he should move on. A quick walk around the perimeter of your yard before letting your dog out can give skunks enough warning to move on and prevent your dog from being sprayed.
(If the worst happens, a solution of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and a touch of dish soap is one of the most efficient ways to get rid of skunk scent on fur and hair.)
Support the skunk babies at WildCare
The two young skunks rescued from the Oakland yard will stay at WildCare for the next 8 – 10 weeks until they are old enough to return to the wild. The video at the top of the post shows one of the last times this baby wanted formula from a nipple– he graduated to custard very quickly and is now exploring small pieces of solid food like chopped fish, egg and other protein sources.
This baby and his sister will need a safe, warm indoor enclosure until they’re big enough to need more space. Then they’ll spend time in an outdoor pen to build strength and foraging skills before release.
Please consider becoming a monthly WildCare donor to help us provide this long-term care for these and the nearly 50 other orphaned baby skunks we’ll admit this spring and summer! Only with your support can we give these babies the care they deserve and the skills they’ll need to survive in the wild!
A monthly donation of any amount ($10, $15 or $20) can make a tremendous difference to our neediest of patients. Please become a monthly donor today!
WildCare Solutions humanely and non-lethally evicts unwanted animals from crawl spaces, attics, under decks and other places and prevents recurring problems by removing attractants.
- Has experience managing mothers with young
- Is committed to humane solutions– we never euthanize healthy animals
- Reduces stress on you AND the animals
- Educates to prevent future problems
Click here to learn more and call WildCare Solutions at 415-453-1000 x23