Damage Skunks Cause under a House
Skunks take up quarters under a house for one primary reason: shelter; and if it’s a female the opportunity to build a nest and have a litter of babies in a place that’s dry, quiet and protected. Usually, the skunk’s characteristic order is scarcely noticeable, if at all.
That can change rapidly, however, if the female skunk is not yet pregnant but is coming into estrus, which will attract males. If the female is not yet ready to breed, she may send the suitor packing with a healthy spray of her musk.
To the homeowner, that will result in odors that emanate upward through flooring and carpeting, and which can linger for six months or more. Even once the skunk leaves, the problem often persists, because the scent often persists in the soil and in the material the mother skunk has brought in to build her nest.
While the skunk’s characteristic odor is the primary source of damage from the occupation, it is not the only way that they can become a nuisance. If they identify a crawl space as an optimum home site, they may got to significant lengths to gain access. If need be, they may tear vent screens to get into the protected space and they have been known to chew through wood siding in order to gain a site for a nest or to dig a burrow.
On occasion their efforts can result in serious damage to a structure, beyond the simple need to replace screen or siding: skunks have been known to burrow under solid foundations, potentially causing thousands of dollars in damage if the foundation and the associated structural elements were to crack or shift.
While it is often the case that skunks will take up temporary residence, have a litter and move on, that is not always the case. If a skunk has established a comfortable situation under a house, it may continue to live there without disturbing the residents above for multiple seasons. Unless an odor problem emerges, it may never be noticed, since skunks normally only come out at night to feed.
Thus, given a skunk’s pattern of tenancy along with its penchant for discretion, it might be well to check for signs. A sniff test might tell you something, or you might be tipped off by some telltale signs in the garden. If this move arouses suspicion, have it confirmed by an animal control expert.
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