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Old 05-01-2012, 06:02 PM   #1
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There is at this very moment (not quite 7:00 pm and overcast) a skunk wandering down our backyard slope. I had known that we have skunks in the neighborhood and for some time have suspected a nearby den as some of the tunnels appearing in our yard seem too big for chipmunks.

Here is my concern: this skunk is moving slowly (as skunks do), but its gait seems rolling. Is this normal? Also, should a skunk be out at this time of day?

For obvious reasons, I'm not going to get near it, but if this skunk is just fat, lazy, and unmotivated, I don't want to call animal control. On the other hand, if it is diseased, the situation is different. And I'm wondering if there is a way to discourage skunks without discouraging other wildlife; in another neighborhood in which I once lived, skunks were regularly killed when found, which we obviously do not want. Do I need to get rid of my brushpile to encourage these furry folks to move a few blocks over to the wildlife refuge?
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Last edited by Rebek56; 05-01-2012 at 06:03 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 05-01-2012, 06:41 PM   #2
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I wouldn't be concerned it's not so long till dusk. I've personally seen a raccoon with rabies and there is no mistaking the extremely odd behavior (staggering, snarling. biting leaves and shrubs) I don't know other diseases may affect skunks though. I would just keep an eye on it you might not even see it again. I hope it all works out for you and your little friend.
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Old 05-01-2012, 06:45 PM   #3
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I also have skunks living in my yard. I don't think there is a reliable way to know of disease, but I am in general cautious about handling any mammal. I don't think the brush pile is the reason you're seeing them. As far as I can tell, they are able to find plenty of shelter in suburban and agricultural areas. If you wash your hands after working outside and avoid direct contact with them, I don't think there is any chance of disease transmission. Rabies specifically I know only survives for a few moments outside of their bodies, so you'd have to have a direct bite and not get treated within a short time span in order to develop the disease.
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Old 05-01-2012, 06:46 PM   #4
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When I looked up again a few minutes ago, the skunk had vanished, probably into one of the tunnels going who-knows-where. (One sometimes catches whiffs of skunk on the early morning air around here.)
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Old 05-02-2012, 05:32 AM   #5
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I did look up ways to discourage skunks. The recommendations included getting rid of brush piles and food sources, like insects, worms, and grubs. (Yeah, right.)
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Old 05-05-2012, 12:36 AM   #6
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They're not interested in brush piles. Maybe they check em out as they're strolling on by but that's about it. I've got 1 under my chicken coop right now. It's not my skunk though. Well.... I guess it's my skunk now since it's taken to living under my coop. With where you are.... you might not want to discourage your skunk. This is a little different than when Dappy saw his since you're farther south than he is. I'm thinking yours is a momma out during the day trying to feed her hungry young is all. In a month or so her babies will be eating on their own and if you're lucky.... you might even get to see her out with them during the day.
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Old 05-05-2012, 05:51 AM   #7
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It turns out that this particular skunk (identifiable because it has much more white than black) has been in the neighborhood for at least a couple of years. Several of the wildlife-appreciating neighbors have seen it and have no problem with it being here (even though it or a friend did spray Riley the shepherd mix when she went out to pee one night and got too close). I do wish it wouldn't dig quite so many holes in the yard, though--they are a hazard on the rare occasions when I decide to mow (as I did last evening, the back forty being too uncivilized even for me).
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Old 05-05-2012, 10:17 PM   #8
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To answer your original question, yes skunks do have kind of a wonky gait - they're related to weasels (assuming you know how weasels move- sort of hop/bounce - it's not as pronounced in skunks though, and they are slower than weasels also). And as far as being out at 7pm - that's definitely nothing to be concerned about.
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Old 05-09-2012, 02:01 PM   #9
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We have a couple of skunks in our yard - caught one in a live trap once by accident. We were trying for the groundhog living under the garage - oops! It was very easy going, though, and we released it without incident. I love them because they dig up and eat hornet nests.
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