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What to Do if a Skunk Walks Up to You in Chicago, IL; Do They Give a Warning Before Spraying?

Skunks are most known for the foul-smelling spray they produce. The most common and recognized skunk species found in North America is the striped skunk. They can be beneficial as they are predators of rodents, insects that can be pests as well as scorpions. But you don’t want them on your property, lest they get startled, which is when they will spray.

Skunk Identification

Skunks are usually black and white but can be gray, cream and even brown. All skunks are striped, even babies. Most skunks are about the size of a cat, measuring 8 to 10 inches with a tail that adds another 5 to 15 inches. Skunks prefer to live in open woodlands and dense shrubs. They also like to take over burrows that once belonged to other animals and will live in hollow logs and abandoned buildings. They can hear and smell very well but they have poor vision. They will eat almost anything they can find and will even eat wasps and honeybees too. They are also immune to snake venom and can eat poisonous snakes, like rattlesnakes, without any issues. As long as food and water are available, skunks are very good at adapting to new surroundings. They are nocturnal which means they are most active at night and they don’t hibernate but will be less active during the colder months. Skunks are mostly solitary and will live and forage alone.

What to Do if a Skunk Walks Up to You

If you encounter a skunk they will first hiss, fluff their tail, lunge forward and stomp their feet. If you slowly back away, you won’t get sprayed. The spray is very stinky. It’s an oily and sticky sulfur compound that is formed in their anal glands. Skunks are accurate sprayers and can spray up to 10 feet or more. This smell can last for days but is fortunately harmless. Skunks have very strong forefeet with long nails, making them excellent diggers. They will dig holes in lawns, gardens and golf courses when they look for grubs and worms. If they are having a hard time finding shelter they will burrow beneath buildings and through foundation openings.

Signs of Skunks; Burrows, Holes in Lawn & More

• Small cone-shaped holes in your lawn that are 3-4 inches in diameter
• Tracks that have five toes on each foot with visible claws
• Trash cans that have been pilfered
• Skunk odor

What Kind of Diseases Do Skunks Carry?

The Humane Society states that skunks are one of four wild animals that are considered carriers of the rabies virus. Rabies is usually fatal to humans and pets if it’s not treated right away. Signs that a skunk might have rabies are if you see them during the day, if they appear unsteady or disorientated, and if they are drooling and/or foaming at the mouth. Do not approach but rather call for help. Skunks can also carry contagious diseases, viruses and parasites that can be transmitted to humans and pets. These include leptospirosis, canine distemper, canine hepatitis and intestinal roundworms.

Skunk Wildlife Control & Removal

Most skunks are not aggressive and won’t harm you unless they are threatened. However, if you don’t want skunks or other wildlife around your home and property due to health risks to your loved ones as well as potential lawn and property damage, contact Pest Management Services for help.

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