Skunks are mammals best known for their ability to secrete a liquid with a strong, foul odor. General appearance varies from species to species, from black-and-white to brown or cream colored. Skunks belong to the family Mephitidae and to the order Carnivora. There are twelve species of skunks, which are divided into four genera: Mephitis (hooded and striped skunks, two species), Spilogale (spotted skunks, four species), Mydaus (stink badgers, two species), and Conepatus (hog-nosed skunks, four species). The two skunk species in the Mydaus genus inhabit Indonesia and the Philippines; all other skunks inhabit the Americas from Canada to central South America.
Two species of skunk are found in California, the striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis), which is the most commonly found species, and the spotted skunk (Spilogale gracilis). Both are members of the weasel family and are equipped with a powerful and protective scent gland that can shoot a potent and pungent liquid as far as 6 to 10 feet. The secretion is acrid enough to cause nausea and can produce severe burning and temporary blindness if it strikes the eyes.
Skunks often den in burrows, but because they prefer to do as little digging as possible, they will use abandoned burrows dug by ground squirrels, fox, or coyotes, enlarging them only if necessary. If dens are scarce, they will readily use brush piles, hollow logs, and culverts. In urban settings, they den under decks, porches, or beneath buildings.
As with many other vertebrate pests, the best solution to skunk problems beneath porches or buildings is to screen or block them out. Close off all potential entrances or openings under houses, garden tool sheds, mobile homes, porches, and decks with 1/4-inch mesh hardware cloth. The advantage of using the small mesh is that it will also exclude rats and house mice if installed correctly. Skunks will work hard to get into a desirable denning space, so take care to make fittings good and tight. If there is soil underneath the potential entrances, bury the wire 6 inches to make a good seal.
For more information contact Berrett's Orange County Rodent Control Office at 888.250.5503
*Cited from UC Davis Integrated Pest Management Program & Wikipedia