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Skunks, Muskrats, and Other Random Critters

The Macon Area office of Rid-A-Critter handles calls for a lot of animals who aren't quite important enough to merit their own pages on our site, but who still make nuisances of themselves from time to time. This page discusses a few of the more common ones. For others, please visit our main company site, or just call us for more information.

Skunks

A striped skunk walking through a field

Skunks are common in the Macon area, but usually they don't bother anyone.

Skunks are small- to medium-sized animals with black and white coloration. They're mainly carnivorous and their diet includes insects, grubs, earthworms, and other small animals. They're also primarily nocturnal, usually appearing in the late afternoon and early evening; but younger skunks, skunks that have become semi-tame, and skunks that are ill often venture out during the day.

A lot of folks are afraid of skunks because of their ability to spray a foul-smelling liquid when they are threatened. And for sure, if you or an animal of yours get sprayed, getting the stink off of you may take weeks.

But skunks really don't like to spray. It takes them a while to regenerate the liquid after they spray, which leaves them temporarily vulnerable. They also seem not to like the smell very much (or possibly the liquid irritates them) because they try to remove the liquid from themselves after they spray. Finally, skunks are pretty peaceful animals by nature. They don't go around looking for trouble.

In fact, a mature skunk will seldom spray unless it thinks its life is in danger. (Younger skunks may be a bit quicker on the trigger.) Before they spray, skunks usually give warnings that may include arching their backs, stamping their feet, and sometimes growling or hissing. In almost all cases, it's only if you ignore those warnings that a skunk will spray you.

How Not to Get Sprayed by a Skunk

The reason behind most human victims of skunk spraying is that most humans don't know how to communicate with skunks. So here's some advice that will help you avoid getting sprayed in you do meet up with a skunk.

If you happen to startle a skunk and it starts giving you warnings, the best thing to do is lower your head, and slowly turn away and walk away. Those are submissive gestures and usually will prevent the skunk from spraying. In addition, don't smile at the skunk: Baring your teeth is an aggressive signal. Don't stare it in the eyes or raise your hands, either; and for the love of all that is good and holy, don't start screaming.

In short: The skunk is warning you to back down. So back down.

Another thing to be aware of is that skunks don't have very good vision, so they might not even notice you until they're only a few feet away -- especially if they've got their noses down looking for grubs. So if you see a skunk walking past you who doesn't seem bothered by your presence, you may be only partly right. Chances are that the skunk isn't bothered by your presence, but it's also possible that it just hasn't noticed you, and would be startled if you suddenly started moving around. So don't make any sudden moves until the skunk has passed by and some distance is between the two of you. If you startle the skunk, it may spray you.

Skunk Trapping and Removal

All the above being said, most of the time there's really no reason to bother trapping and removing skunks. They usually do no harm, and they actually do some good by eating destructive insects, grubs, and small rodents. So if you have a few skunks walking across your yard or garden at night, our advice is to consider just leaving them be.

There are some times when skunks need to be trapped an removed, however. One of the most important times is when the skunks appear to be ill. Skunks have a fairly high incidence of rabies, and the symptoms can take two different forms. One is commonly known as "furious" form, in which the animal acts very aggressively; and the other is the "dumb" form, in which the animals seems confused, unsteady, or even friendly. Another possible sign of rabies is a mature skunk being out and about in the middle of the day.

A much more common situation in which skunks have to be removed is if they're living in or under your home. Skunks often nest under porches or in crawl spaces, where they usually do no particular harm. The problem is that if they spray an animal while they're out and about, the stink will stay with them for a few days; and if by some chance they actually sprayed while they were under your porch or in your crawl space, you'd have a serious stink situation in your house.

So if you have skunks living in or under your home, give us a call. We can remove them and then animal-proof your home to keep skunks, along with other wild critters, from getting back in.

Muskrats

A muskrat swimming through the water

Muskrats occasionally make a nuisance of themselves in our area

Muskrats are semi-aquatic rodents that are somewhat bigger and stockier than a Norway rat, and have a distinctive, knife-shaped tail. They live along streams, ponds, and other bodies of water and build "lodges" out of mud, twigs, and grass. They're excellent swimmers and use their tails as rudders while swimming.

Most of the time, muskrats are harmless and can be left alone. Although some people are afraid of them, they're not aggressive animals. They can cause problems, however, when their lodges impede the flow of water in a stream or through a drainage ditch or culvert. This can cause localized flooding at and upstream of the blockage.

Muskrats can also be agricultural or garden pests because they like to nibble at vegetable crops. Typically they'll take a nibble or two from many different vegetables, thus destroying a great deal more of the crop than they actually eat. They'll eat almost anything, but they seem especially fond of squash, yams, and eggplants.

Muskrat Control

Muskrats aren't the kind of animal we can exclude from your property permanently. We can trap and remove them if they're causing a problem, but there's nothing we can do to prevent "new" muskrats from moving in to replace the ones we removed. The aim of muskrat control, therefore, is to remove the muskrats that are causing problems. We can't guarantee that new muskrats won't move in and taking their place.

Other Miscellaneous Animals

The Macon regional office of Rid-A-Critter occasionally comes across other animal problems that are uncommon enough that they don't rate their own section on this page, much less a page of their own. We've trapped and removed gophers, turkeys, chickens, and many other unusual animals. So whatever critter is causing you problems, please call us. Chances are that we can help.

you have a problem with any animal problem, and we'll let you know if we can help you out. Most likely, we can.

 

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The Macon, Georgia office of Rid-A-Critter provides animal control and animal proofing in Macon, Georgia and the surrounding area, including Barnesville, Byron, Centerville, Cordele, Culloden, Eastman, Forsyth, Fort Valley, Gray, Griffin, Hawkinsville, Juliette, Kathleen, Milledgeville, Perry, Roberta, Thomaston, Warner Robins, Yatesville, and Zebulon.

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