Raccoons are at the very top of the list of critters out to destroy your vegetable garden. If you do not have a garden, then perhaps raccoons may find their way to your trash cans, curbside garbage or bird feeders. Found throughout North America, raccoons are a problem for home owners all over.
Highly intelligent and very curious, raccoons are somewhat sociable especially during mating season. They are nocturnal in nature and typically cause problems with homeowners May through September.
Raccoons average 12" high and weigh anywhere from 15-48 pounds. In the wild they have an average life span of 10 - 13 years. This small land mammal is extremely adaptable and has thrived in the suburban and urban areas.
While raccoons aren't true hibernators, they are considerably less active during cold months, sleeping for days or weeks at a time. During the month of January while females stay in their dens, males will travel looking for a mate.
Females usually give birth to 1 - 6 baby kits in April or May. These baby raccoons will stay with the mother until autumn and then go off on their own to find a hollow for winter. While the ideal den is a cavity in a large tree, raccoons will also use manmade structure such as attics, chimneys and outside of buildings.
Raccoons will typically eat anything. However, they primarily dine on insects, nuts, worms, frogs, shellfish, eggs, snakes and fruit.
Skunks provide more of a benefit than people realize. They eat many pest insects that cause damage to your lawn and garden. Problems typically arise when they spray or make a home in and around your home.Skunks do dig holes in lawns, golf courses and gardens in their search for grubs in the soil.
Members of the weasel family, there are four species of skunks in North America: striped, hooded, spotted and hog-nosed.
The most common are striped skunks, measuring 20 to 30 inches long (including the tail) and weigh approximately 6 to 10 pounds with two wide stripes on the back that meet on the head. Nocturnal by nature, skunks have a litter of 1-7 young in late April through early June.
They are slow-moving animals but have strong forefeet and long nails which make them excellent diggers.
Skunks will ususally only attack when cornered or defending their young. Spraying is not the first method of defense. They will growl, spit, fluff their fur, shake their tail, and stamp the ground. If the intruder does not leave, they will lift their tail and spray their famous skunk odor.
The spray is a sulfur compound that has a range of up to 15 feet. The glands that hold the spray hold enough for 5-6 sprays.
Skunks are found throughout the US, Canada and Mexico. Skunks like warm dry, dark defensible locations. They have adapted to building dens in decks, trash dumps and woodpiles. When foraging for food they will often travel 5-10 miles.
Skunks are omnivorous. Their diet typically consists or beetles, larvae and earthworms. They are also know to eat field mice, small rodents, lizards, garbage, eggs, and fallen fruit. Problems arise when they determine that your yard is the best place for their den..
When threatened or harmed, they will “play possum”, mimicking the appearance and smell of a sick or dead animal.
The opossum are a small to medium-sized marsupial, about the size of a large house cat (2-3' long and 4-15 lbs). Most members of the opossum family have long snouts, a narrow braincases. They can be traced back to the time of the dinosaur.
When threatened or harmed, they will “play possum”, mimicking the appearance and smell of a sick or dead animal. The lips are drawn back, teeth are bared, saliva foams around the mouth, and a foul-smelling fluid is secreted from the anal glands. This physiological response is completely involuntary, rather than a conscious act.
Their stiff, curled form can be prodded, turned over, and even carried away. Many injured opossums have been killed by well-meaning people who find a catatonic animal and assume the worst. The best thing to do upon finding an injured or apparently dead opossum is to leave it in a quiet place with a clear exit path. In minutes or hours, the animal will regain consciousness and escape quietly on its own.
Opossums are opportunistic omnivores with a very broad range of diet. Their unspecialized biology, flexible diet and reproductive strategy make them successful colonizers and survivors in unsettled times. They like to dine on roots, vegetables, fruit, corn, snails, beetles, ants, eggs, grasshoppers and garbage .