There are at least four species of skunk in the United States, all of which have glands that secrete those painfully pungent odors whenever they feel threatened or under attack. Skunks can thrive in rural and urban locations and can create rodent problems wherever they go.
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Skunks can create serious rodent control issues for businesses and homeowners alike. They can dig up parts of your foundation, destroy your lawn and garden and spray your property and pets with a stench that never seems to go away.
In order to rid yourself of an existing skunk problem, it may be necessary to contact a specialist in rodent control. Learn about the different species of skunks in the United States, find out about rodent problems unique to skunks and discover ways to keep your home or business rodent proof.
Facts and Information on Pack Rats
The most popular occurrences of pack rats are located in the regions of Southern and Western America. However, you may also find them in some regions of the eastern United States and Western Canada. Pack rats are a little smaller in size compared to typical rats and have long, sometimes bushy tails. Their entire body is well furred and has large protruding ears. If described physically, they may reach a length of 18 inches, including the tail.
These rats are pale buff, gray or reddish-brown, typically with white undersides and feet. Pack rats of the genus Neotoma of North and Central America are known for their tendency of collecting clear, shiny objects and leaving other objects, like nuts or pebbles, in their place. In fact, because of their ability, they are also called trade rats or wood rats. They also have an affinity towards new startling objects and do drop their bearings if they encounter anything more captivating and interesting.
Basically, these rats collect all such materials in order to decorate their nests. Pack rats come from the classification of phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, and class Mammalia, and order Rodentia, family Cricetidae. On talking about their habitat, it would be interesting to read that they prefer surrounding such as gravel desert lowlands, dry plains, brushlands and pinyon-juniper forests, from below sea level to 8,000 feet. In total, there are about 22 known species of Pack rats, 8 out of which are present in deserts of North America. These rats come from the family of Cricetidae (order Rodentia).
Rat Lifestyle and Behavior
The nests of desert-dwelling pack rats are often built-in or around cactus, specifically cholla and beavertail. Their nests provide complete shielding from extreme desert temperatures and protection from predators by making use of cactus pads and cactus spines in the structuring.
Such construction methods allow the nests to stay cooler than the surrounding desert floor in summer and in winters; it helps retain the animals’ body heat. The pack rats are pretty unassailable to predators, except for the badger. The pack rat is most susceptible when out foraging for food. In fact, rats mostly get trapped by coyotes, foxes, snakes or owls.
Mostly nocturnal and vegetarian, desert pack rats survive on foodstuffs comprising spiny cactus, yucca pods, bark, berries, pinyon nuts, seeds and any accessible green vegetation. For water requirements of the body, they totally rely on juicy plants since they do not have the developed metabolic and water conservation capabilities like Pocket Mice and Kangaroo Rats. Pack rats are counted among a few animals that can steer away with impunity between cactus spines to feed on the juicy pads.
Pack rats usually make their nest with stuff from plants such as branches, twigs, sticks and other debris. Those, who love to give them shelter in their homes, must have encountered their basic nature of creating a nuisance, hopping onto everything from attics to car machines, prowling their treasures, damaging electrical wiring and wreaking general, noisy havoc. However, if talked practically, pack rat is hoarding of items that no longer carry any value or are nothing more messy clutter.
Pack rats are relentless travelers. They habitually spend their nights bustling about on limbs of shrubs or taking probing excursions over trails they visited previously. During nights, they all pick up insects, seeds, and small berries either to eat immediately or store. It goes without saying that along with seeds, they also bring home a good number of sticks, cactus joints, and other objects for making or protecting their homes. Moreover, they are intelligent enough to daunt their predator’s curiosity by placing pieces of prickly pear or cholla in front of the entrance to the nest.
Rat Life Cycle
It may be interesting for many to know that the reproductive behavior of pack rats is exceptionally variable in the wild and significantly much more untamed when domesticated. A litter is born after a conception period of 33 to 39 days and holds from two to six young.
They are born with almost no hair on their bodies and remain helpless and cared for in nests. Amusingly, some desert female pack rats have been identified to deliver up to 5 litters per year with as many as five young per litter. It is believed that newborn babies open their eyes after 10-12 days and are normally weaned between 14 and 42 days.
As far as their sexual activities are concerned, they get mature after 60 days. Moreover, in case of an exceptionally large litter, the mother packrat usually dies after weaning. Generally, all packrats are polygamous, and some mate for the time of a single breeding season.
How to protect and prevent against rats?
Pack rats can bring a great deal of trouble if allowed to make entries to your home, office, or other building. They are superb climbers and can willingly climb brick, stucco or wood-sided homes. Secondly, Pack Rats are allied with a number of diseases that infect humans counting plague and Lyme disease. Hence, prevention from their presence inside your house can be quite imperious for you and especially for your kids.
You can usually keep them away from your home by using traps, Rat snap traps, live traps, burrow-entrance traps, glue boards, or poison. Moreover, you can use enticing baits such as butter & oatmeal, nuts, bacon rind, raisins, or dried fruit.
Pack rats are not very scared of new objects or manmade things within their territory; it actually attracts them sometimes. Unfortunately, this makes them fairly easy to trap. Most rat poisons, while being effectual, are hazardous and unsafe and must be used only under professional regulation. Also, most “poisoned” pellet baits should be totally avoided as rats may carry the pellets to store in their nest.
Pack rat middens or mounds
No article about pack rats can come to an end without the discussion of pack rat middens. Vernacularly, the structures that pack rats build are called “Middens.” Fossil packrat (or woodrat) middens offer substantial information on precedent environments as they are a great source of debris collected by packrats in the past.
To preserve water in an arid environment, packrat produces sticky urine and often urinates on its garbage pile, blotting its territory and building the midden. Furthermore, when the urine crystallizes, it works like glue and composes the entire garbage pile together. This way, fossil debris held together within the midden shrinks, preserving it for an indefinite period. Till the time the midden is shielded from water, it will continue to persist by getting positioned as under a rock ledge.
Packrat middens are matured using radiocarbon dating. Ongoing researches and studies have shown fossils older than 50,000 years, which is basically the practical limit of radiocarbon dating.
In a residential setting, packrats have the tendency of collecting decomposing trash, pet waste, kid’s toys and landscaping trimmings. They are profoundly described as curious animals who like to collect shiny objects such as jewelry and eating utensils.
Types of Skunks in America
The most common species in the United States is the striped skunk, indicated by a thin white colored stripe along the face. The striped skunk is the largest of the skunk species and has a weight range from 2.5 up to 10 pounds.
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Among other species found are the hooded skunk, spotted skunk and hog-nosed skunk. The hooded skunk resembles the striped skunk, though slightly smaller and with a longer tail. Spotted skunks have white spot markings and fine hair. Hog-nosed skunks have long snouts, white backs and tails and no facial stripes.
Diseases Carried by Skunks
Skunks carry parasites, fleas and bacteria. Fleas need hosts, like skunks to live. The potential danger rodent problems create for you, your family and your pets is a telltale for the need to keep your property rodent-proof. Skunks are also highly susceptible to the rabies virus and tularemia.
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How to keep your home or business rodent-proof?
The best thing you can do to rodent-proof your home or business is to exercise prevention. Keep your food sources properly contained and remove any debris that might attract skunks to the property. Skunks are burrowing rodents that can stake a claim to the garage, shed and any opportunistic crawlspaces around your home or business. Contact a rodent control specialist near your home for more pointed advice on how to deal with skunks and other rodent problems.
Ethical Rodent Control
Ethical pest control practices have emerged as a concern among environmentalists and animal welfare advocates. Moral matters regarding rodent control address various subtopics, from green pest control methods to humane extermination practices. Learn more about how you can protect your home from rodent problems while upholding cruelty-free and environmentally safe standards.
Eco-friendly Pest Control
A number of pest control and wildlife management companies have incorporated green rodent control products and practices. With the variety of eco-friendly products on the market, this option is now environmentally safe and cost-effective.
Additionally, the global effort toward going green has bolstered the advancement of eco-friendly products in which a number of non-toxic, organic rodent control treatments exist that are safe to use around humans and pets and do not produce residual toxic fumes associated with chemical pesticides.
While a lot of ground has been covered in green pest control methods, there is still much work to be done in order to produce eco-friendly products that match the effectiveness and endurance of their environmentally unsafe counterparts. However, using environmentally safe pest control products can be effective and should be examined as a viable option.
Humane Rodent Control
Another concern that falls under the ethics of handling rodent problems targets the manner in which humans share the environment with other species. Numerous animal welfare advocates have pointed to an alarming discrepancy between the attention given to ethics in animal experimentation and traditional rodent control methods.
They argue that while concern for the welfare of experimental animals has been abundant, somehow, ethics have managed to escape the arena of pest control. In fact, many traditional techniques that may be safe for the environment are completely inhumane, such as glue traps and poison baits, leaving rats to endure a painful death that can last for several days.
Affordability, sanitation and efficacy have been the motivational factors behind traditional methods for handling rodent problems. However, animal welfare advocates contend that pest control practices should implement humane standards in effort to avert unnecessary pain and discomfort.
In some cases, however, rodent problems can lead to vermin infestation and threaten the spread of disease. Under such circumstances, many animal welfare advocates concede that efficacy may direct the best course of action.
The most ethical way to handle rodent problems is to avoid them in the first place with preventative pest control techniques, such as keeping the yard free from debris and sealing home entryways. Removing food and water sources, keeping garbage bins tightly sealed and trimming back hedges and other shrubbery are additional methods in rodent control.
Hire a qualified pest control company that advocates humane exclusion, trapping and prevention methods.
How to choose a rodent control company?
If you suspect that you have a rat infestation or other rodent control problem, then you will want to choose a professional in pest control that can provide the necessary expertise to properly handle removal. It can be difficult for homeowners and those who operate a business establishment to know which rodent exterminator can offer the best pest control services. Review the following guidelines for helping pinpoint the right pest control specialist in wildlife management services that can help permanently solve your existing rodent problems.
There are plenty of rodent exterminator businesses out there with several locations nationwide. Some of them may have offices in your area. However, while some nationally operating companies specializing in rodent control understand the protocol for wildlife management services, they lack a solid grasp on the unique needs of clientsyour area. Therefore, it is best to choose a local pest control company that thoroughly trains its employees to recognize unique rodent problems faced by residents of the Grand Canyon State.
Pack rats and roof rats account for much of the rodent problems faced by residents. It’s crucial to choose a rodent exterminator who understands the details about the different rat species in the state.
When you contact a pest control professional, request detailed information about common and uncommon rodent control problems in your region. Your prospective rodent exterminator should demonstrate a solid understanding of common rodent control issues such as rats and more unique problems, such aspions and bats. Demonstration of this type of knowledge can attest to a noteworthy level of expertise.
Ask prospective rodent exterminators which methods they use to eliminate rodents from your house. Your pest control company should also exercise proven strategies to prevent future rodent control problems in your home or business. Things like fixing holes in screens and blocking tiny entrances that you might not even notice will help keep rodents out for good.
Striped Skunk and Spotted Skunk
Scientific Name: Mephitis mephitis, Spilogale gracilis
Description of Skunks: Mephitis (the genus of the skunk) means bad odor in Latin — for a good reason. There are at least four different skunk species in AZ.
If their vivid colors don’t deter you or their natural predators, their scent sure will.
These animals can get into peoples’ property, especially crawl spaces, porch areas or sheds. If you try to get them out, you could easily be coated in a disgusting oily secretion that lasts for days. Further, skunks carry a wide range of diseases and parasites that affect humans. Without question, a pest control professional should be contacted to remedy this problem animal.
Skunks Range and Reproduction: The Skunk weighs about 1.5 – 2.75 pounds and has an approximately 10-18 inches long body. Males are larger than females. Some species exist all over the state. Others live in distinct regions of Arizona and the United States.
Skunks and Health Information: Skunks can carry rabies and cause distemper if they bite your pets, carry fleas, ticks, mites – all of which carry other diseases. Skunks are a serious risk to human and pet health.
Important Facts on Skunks:
- Skunks can deter even Mountain Lions with their spray
- Skunks don’t cause permanent damage with their spray
- The only way to get skunks out of a house is by trapping