Friday, September 22, 2017

A Stinky Situation?

What do you do when you have a colony of ground squirrels living on the backside of the property up on the hill away from the house, nowhere near anything you are using? You leave them alone.

Now what do you do when one comes down the hill and takes up residence underneath your shop? This is when you panic, ground squirrels are viscous little creatures and I really don't need one tearing up the foundation of my shop by building squirrel tunnels and inviting all of his friends. I have never heard of this before but I don't want to be the first guy to get the lower leg of his jeans ripped to shreds by a pesky squirrel that is squatting under his shop.

Wire live animal trap sitting on top of empty flower pots
My live animal trap
The solution is a live animal trap, this way if I catch the squirrel then I can deal with him, and if I catch one of Cindy's rabbits then I simply release it, no harm no foul.

The squirrel had been spotted running out from under my shop and munching on the little cottonwood tree saplings that are springing up in the garden area. My idea was to set the trap right in the middle of a batch of these trees; I also had some concrete hard dirt that I had dumped out of the pots from our failed tomato-growing excursion this summer. I placed the dirt shaped like a flower pot next to the trap to semi hide it, and then covered the top with some of the tree saplings that I had pulled up.

Perfect, now I have created a secluded dining place for the pesky squirrel. Within a couple of hours I had the varmint captured.

After "relocating the squirrel" I set the trap once again, the very next morning when I went to let the chickens out, the trap was sprung, inside was a half grown rabbit, I opened the door and watched him scamper to safety.

Yesterday morning our little dog Dixie and I went to let the chickens out and again the trap was sprung. Another half grown rabbit. I think it was either the first ones twin, or the same rabbit again. I opened the door and Dixie chased it all the way to the fence. The rabbit got to the fence long before Dixie did, with Dixie being fourteen years old, the rabbit had a good chance of out running her.

I decided if I had another rabbit this morning that I would just release him and put my trap away. As Dixie and I made our way to the Chicken pen I could see the door was once again slammed shut on the trap, I went by and opened the door to release the flock for their daily routine, then I looked into the trap. I slowly backed away...

Skunk caught in live animal trap sitting in between cottonwood saplings
Skunk in live animal trap, taken from a distance.
What do you do when all of a sudden you realize this is not Bugs Bunny but instead Pepe Le Pew?

The first thing you do is remain calm and slowly, I said slowly back away, I had to grab Dixie because she does have a history with skunks. We had to take her in for a de-skunking at the groomers after her last encounter.

I really didn't want she or I to be forced into a de-skunking this morning, so I took her back into the house. Cindy asked me, Did you catch anything this morning? I said, Yes I did. Another rabbit? Nope a skunk...

She had the nerve to laugh out loud, she laughed so hard that her face turned red, she was literally bent over and slapping her knee. I didn't think this was all that funny, not laughing out loud funny. One time my brother in law came up against a skunk, I wrote about it in Jest Shoot Em if you want to laugh at a skunk story, I thought this was funny even though my sister didn't.

I asked Cindy if she wanted to walk out with me to go and see the skunk. No way she said. I bet it really stinks. He didn't spray, I told her, we just have to remain calm and move slowly. What are you going to do with him? She asked. I'm just going to release him, you and I are going to place a tarp over the trap so he won't see us, and then I will open the door and let him go. Good luck with that, she said, because you are on your own Bud...

I gathered my shovels and rakes and implements of destruction, in preparation for dispatching Pepe back into the wild.

Red broom handle and green tarp lying on a concrete driveway
My red broom handle and trusty green tarp
Actually I grabbed a tarp and a handle that I had saved from an old push broom, the handle was to push the tarp down and around the trap, not to poke the skunk because I was really trying not to get myself sprayed.

I folded the tarp to the approximate size I needed and held it in front of me as I approached the trap, I was also holding the broom handle, which caused me to lose grip of the tarp and drop it from my right hand. I froze for just a minute while the tarp unfolded at my feet and watched the skunk, I'm looking at him and back to my tarp on the ground, he is basically ignoring me, so I re fold the tarp within a few feet of the skunk, he is busy digging up dirt and destroying the vegetation near his enclosure.

With my newly folded tarp I approach the trap, I slowly place the tarp against the side of the trap and this is when I hear a drumming sound, this is a warning that skunks give when they are getting ready to spray, I froze right there doing my best mannequin selling a tarp impersonation and allowed Pepe Le Pew time to settle down.

Green tarp covering live animal trap containing trapped skunk sitting next to a fence
Tarp actually covering live animal trap the skunk was caught in.
I gently laid the tarp over top of the trap and used the handle to press it into place all around while leaving the trap door accessible; I waited for a minute and then pulled the door open latching it into place. This is when I slowly backed away as quickly as I could, picture me now running backwards in slow motion.

The skunk emerged from his makeshift cave and looked out at the field and definite freedom, I was expecting him to scamper away in that direction, But No! He instead made a right hand turn and squeezed underneath my shop.

I did the only thing that made sense for me to do at the time, I picked up my green tarp, red broom handle, and live animal trap to put them all away, and then I went back to the house for a cup of coffee.

Cartoon character skunk Pepe Le Pew
Pepe Le Pew (Source)
What do you do when a skunk goes underneath your shop after being released and not spraying you? You leave him alone...

50 comments:

  1. He will eventually wander away, hopefully. We had one in the lean-too attached to the garage, there was a burrow in the dirt floor. Know that drumming sound, haha. It did leave and haven't seen it since. You may be as lucky as I.

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    1. Hey Sharon, That drumming sound doesn't mean he is playing with you either does it ha ha, I remained still until the drumming stopped, I was happy that the odor didn't follow up the warning. Yes I consider us both lucky.

      The skunk will wander away, I have had them stop by before but never set up household ;)

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  2. Yes, and you won't have any squirrels either. The skunk will see to that.

    What a fun post. I had a visual more than once.

    Have a fabulous day and weekend. ☺

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    1. Thank you Sandee, I am afraid that I had a couple of visuals while I was walking up to that trap also ha ha.

      You have a wonderful weekend my friend.

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  3. What's worse than squirrels under your garage? ... a family of skunks. Hopefully that does NOT happen! (happened to some people we know, though)

    Very funny post, for those of us who aren't you :)

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    1. Hello Jenny, I hope this skunk was just passing by, like you I have seen where they have moved in before.

      I can just see you and Cindy standing together laughing...from a distance that is ;)

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  4. That is exactly what you do. A few years back we had squirrels galore so we bought a live trap specifically for squirrels. This trap will release if it is turned over. So we put peanuts in the trap and we caught about 8 of them over time. We put the trap in the trunk braced with a couple of cement blocks so it wouldn't turn over en route and took the squirrels camping. Way out in the country. Set the trap in the ditch and with a broom handle rolled the trap over. Squirrel exited...no problem. On to the next. Investigate traps Jimmy...find one that releases when you roll it over. No more problems.

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    1. Hello Delores, I actually looked at one this past weekend specifically designed for squirrels, one that catches multiple squirrels at a time, I thought to myself, do I shell out fifty bucks for one squirrel or use the trap I have...my thinking got me into this situation ha ha.

      Your idea sounds exactly like what I should have done.

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  5. Well aren't you just the farmer in the dell? Definitely a stinky situation but aren't they they prettiest creatures?
    Lisa

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    1. Hey Lisa, Here in the dell they are pretty creatures unless you have them in a trap and need to open the door for them.

      I'd rather admire them from afar ;)

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  6. As Elmer Fudd would say, "Be vewwy, vewwy quiet, we are hunting skunks!!"

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    1. Oh my Fran, you don't know how quiet that I was being ha ha.

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    1. Yes Stephen, I have given him no reason to hang around, he can leave whenever he wants.

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  8. I would definitely leave it alone. And some days I would really, really like a skunks defence mechanism. It would keep the pesky door to door salespeople away. Permanently.

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    1. That is an idea EC, Somehow rig it to spray at the doorbell, the only drawback is that odor sure sticks around for a while.

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  9. Omg, that is some story! Is it skunk season or something? I've been smelling them for two weeks! Maybe Fall is mating time? They are definitely out and about. Good luck with evicting him from your shop.

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    1. Hey Bijoux, I couldn't believe it when I saw that I had trapped a skunk, I did learn that if I am trapping squirrels to not leave the trap set overnight, that is when the skunks are roaming around.

      I didn't see any sign of the skunk under my shop today so I think he has moved on already.

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  10. Well done, I am impressed. I wouldn't have had any idea what to do.

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    1. Thank you Joe, I sure don't want to try a repeat performance.

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  11. I can't believe you were able to walk slow enough to get the job done of covering the trap and letting the shrunk go without getting sprayed. I'm impressed. I'd leave him alone, too. I don't think we have ground squirrels here that live in the ground, chipmunks though. I'm dealing with moles right now burring all over my dog's pen.

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    1. Hello Jean, I think a lot of what helped me was he was pre occupied with the tree saplings around the cage and with trying to dig out of the bottom, which is all wire anyways, I just knew that it was all over when he stopped digging and began drumming his front paws, I didn't move a muscle until he had quieted down and started digging again.

      We have more problems with gophers than moles, but all in all they are both burrowing varmints that can sure mess up a lot of your property.

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  12. My coworker said he caught a possum with one of his friends. They didn't want to shoot it because it might damage the cage. So his friend drowned him in the pond. Apparently my coworker said the possum looked at them like "really dude?".

    I would just call animal control

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    1. Hey Adam, I sure wouldn't want to go up against a possum either, seeing the teeth alone is enough to keep me away from them, it was suggested that I drown this skunk in the horse though but I was thinking it was a whole lot easier to cover the trap and let him go than to try and carry that trap to the water, I would have been sprayed for sure.

      I can just see that possum looking at your coworker, they do have an attitude.

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  13. This is not something to read at bedtime. No one should laugh this hard at night. Yes, absolutely yes, put the trap away. LOL

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    1. Hello Annie, I am glad you got a good laugh even if it was a little too late in the evening ha ha

      I promise the trap has been put away ;)

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  14. The predicaments you get yourself into! I am impressed with your skills, both catching AND releasing! And writing that story, too. If I accidentally caught a skunk, it would just have to die of old age in that trap. I'd toss it some food, and maybe use a remote control car to drive some water to it.

    I found a dead ground squirrel on my porch a couple days ago, practically disemboweled (bowels nearby) by the dogs. I didn't shed a tear over him. One bit me one time, and I hold a grudge.

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    1. Hello Val, That was a predicament for sure, one that turned out much better than Cindy was expecting for me ha ha. I had to figure something out, you know just in case I needed the trap again, you never know Cindy's rabbit may have wanted to stop by for a third time's a charm snack or something.

      Dogs will drag critters like that in for you and even go so far as to rip them open like that, I guess they want you to see what they caught, I would have no pity on the ground squirrels either, to me they are just a rat with a furry tail.

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  15. You are a brave man Jimmy! I learned something today, if I ever come across a skunk and it starts drumming its feet, I will know to run backwards in slow motion ;) I'm going to be practising this skill immediately. We have a lot of skunks in the area.

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    1. I'm not as much sure about brave or just determined to get the trap back Denise. Yes if a skunk doesn't scamper off but instead faces you and gives that warning sign, whatever you do make sure to not make any quick moves, just slowly move away and get out of his line of sight, they say a skunk will only spray what he is looking at.

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  16. We don't have skunks here in Australia and I'm so glad. I can't imagine anything worse than being sprayed by one.
    I think you made the right decision to leave him alone.

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    1. Hello River, Most of the time I have seen a skunk under one of the buildings it has just been using it to sleep under for the day, by the next morning they are usually gone, you have so many different animals there in Australia than we do here, you are so right being sprayed by one is horrible, my little dog Dixie was sprayed once and just taking her in to be de-skunked left an odor in our car, and that was after throwing out the towel we had her wrapped in.

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  17. Squirrels I can cope with (or can I?) but a skunk would frighten me to death.Thank goodness we don't have any where I live. Have to say your story had me laughing.

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    1. Good morning Valerie, I wonder if a live animal trap would help with your squirrel situation? but then you would have to relocate or dispose of them somehow.

      I am glad you got a laugh out of this one Valerie.

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  18. OMG - I would have definitely panicked Jimmy, but you handled it so well. I bet not many people know of the warning signs of a squirrel who is getting read to spray that smelly goodness. Ironically, I just read an article about getting the scent of a skunk off tennis shoes. Yikes!

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    1. Hello RO, If you have any skunks around it is good to know how to avoid them, they dig in your yard and leave holes behind but they are just searching for grubs, and they only smell (contrary to popular belief) when they spray which is only when they feel threatened and to protect themselves.

      That smell is horrible and will stick with you, I know when my dog got sprayed it was from under my shop, I thought she was chasing rabbits back and forth, the sudden smell told me different, and that smell was in my shop for over a week.

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  19. I'm delighted to say we don't have skunks in the UK, because I'd rather not have one hanging around here. I love Cindy's reaction, my partner always leaves me to sort out dead or trapped animals, and it's not my favourite job.

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    1. Hello Joey, It appears that both your partner and Cindy would be laughing while you and I attend to the critters ha ha.

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  20. Glad you were spared being skunked. There is a possibility that the rest of the family is living under there. I had such a family of the smaller, spotted skunks which really are pretty, under my barn in Fl. They eventually moved on. Good luck.

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    1. Hey Patti, That is one good thing about the skunks they do eventually move on, I haven't seen him anymore since the trap incident.

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  21. OMG, Jimmy! We have plenty of varmints around, but skunks and raccoons, for some reason, freak me out. You handled the situation much better than I would have. I'm imagining that "mannequin selling a tarp impersonation". Hopefully, Pepe will get bored and leave?

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    1. Hey Abby, I guess that impersonating a mannequin may have saved me from getting a dose of a perfume that I would not appreciate. I'm hoping this will be the last time I am in that situation.

      I haven't seen any raccoons here I guess it's too far from water, we do have a few possums and a little bit of everything else.

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  22. ...picture me now running backwards in slow motion... Ahem...it's a good thing you can't see me typing a comment here. *hides red face* *shakes with laughter*

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    1. I wouldn't expect anything less my dear friend ha ha.

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  23. Our big dogs keep most small critters out of our yard. But one we did have a dog a few years ago that had a skunkish encounter. It was not a pleasant time in our lives. Good luck with your new friend.

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    1. Hey Rick, Those skunk encounters with the dogs are not pleasant at all, if your dog is anything like ours the spraying just made her more determined to go after them...go figure.

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  24. We've caught raccoons and a possum in one of those live traps, but never a skunk. (Thank goodness!) You are one lucky dude. If that fella would've sprayed you, your bride might have made you sleep out in your shop for next month or so. If Mr. Skunk sets up his new household under your shop, maybe you should build yourself a NEW one on the opposite side of your property and let him and his family have the old.

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    1. Hey Susan, as long as he stays underneath and doesn't spray me I promise not to trap him again.

      Oh lordy if I had gotten sprayed you are right that I would have been banned from the house until it wore off, and we all know it would have been longer than overnight.

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  25. haha....that is so funny. I have a low opinion for squirrels. I had them chew a hole in my wood on the house and move into my attic area over the eve of the house. Cost me close to a thousand bucks to have it all taken care of. Company with live traps carried off 9, then the repair of my house, and trees cut away from the house....yep, costly! Thank goodness I have had no encounters with skunks.

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    1. Hey Pam, I have heard of squirrels doing exactly what you described, they can sure do a lot of damage getting into your attic like that, a thousand dollars is costly but I am sure it is so worth it to get rid of them.

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