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Control of Miscellaneous Nuisance Animals

Athens-Clarke County, Georgia Regional Office of Rid-A-Critter

The Athens, Georgia office of Rid-A-Critter provides control for many animals that aren't significant enough as nuisance animals in our area to warrant their own pages. Most of these animals are common enough throughout Georgia, but don't generally cause problems and therefore don't come to our attention very often.

If you have a problem with a critter that's not on this page or the other pages on the site, chances are that we can take care of it. Just give a call and we'd be happy to talk about it. You can also visit Rid-A-Critter's main site, which has more animal-specific pages.

In the meantime, here are a few of the less-common critter problems that we encounter in the Athens, Georgia area.

Skunks

A striped skunk walking through a field

Skunks are common in Georgia, but usually don't create a nuisance.

Skunks are small- to medium-sized animals who are usually black and white in color, although other variations are possible. They're mainly carnivorous animals who feed primarily on insects, slugs, earthworms, and small mammals. They'll also eat food left over by humans if they happen to come across it. They're most active at night and are considered mainly beneficial because they help keep rodent populations down. Organic farmers also tend to like having skunks around because they eat destructive insects and small rodents, but leave most crops alone.

Although passive by nature, skunks are well-known for their ability to spray a foul-smelling liquid with impressive accuracy at would-be attackers. They generate this liquid in special glands on their rear ends. Because it takes a skunk quite a while to "refill" after spraying, during which time they're vulnerable to predators, they are reluctant to spray and do so only as a last resort. They typically warn their perceived attacker by stamping their feet, arching their backs, snarling, and hissing before deciding to go nuclear and spray.

If you happen to come across a skunk, the best thing you can do is act in a nonchalant and non-intimidating a manner. Hang your head down a bit and slouch slightly, keep your hands at your sides, don't stare at the skunk, don't scream, and don't smile. (Smiling bares the teeth, which animals interpret as a challenge or threat.) Then calmly turn and walk away. This will almost always defuse the situation. The skunk really doesn't want to spray you, anyway.

Be extra careful if the skunk you come across is very young. Juvenile skunks are more likely to spray than are mature skunks, and it's not always easy to distinguish excited playfulness from fear. A juvenile skunk that you think is just being friendly may in fact be afraid of you (or vice-versa). It's also important to teach children (human ones, that is) to keep their distance from skunks and all woodland animals.

Skunks outside a home usually aren't a problem. They go about their business at night and are generally laid-back by nature. Unless you act in a threatening manner, they're usually quite content to peacefully coexist, especially once they get to recognize you and are comfortable that you mean no harm to them. But they're also extremely nearsighted and may not see or recognize you if you're more than 10 feet or so away, especially if the breeze is blowing toward you so they don't pick up your scent. So avoid any movements that may seem threatening when there's a skunk in the area. Even a skunk that has gotten to know you may become startled if you suddenly pop into its field of vision.

Generally speaking, skunk trapping and removal is only necessary when a skunk is living in or under your home (for example, in a crawl space or under the porch), when you have a pet like a dog or cat that harasses or tries to befriend the skunks, or when you have reason to believe that a skunk may be rabid (for example, if it's walking around during the day, seems unusually passive or friendly, or is staggering). Otherwise, there's usually no reason to trap them. If they're healthy, keeping their distance, and causing no problems, they're doing more good than harm.

If they do create a problem, however, then call us. Rid-A-Critter offers skunk trapping and removal services throughout the Athens, Georgia area. We also provide animal-proofing services that will keep skunks and many other animals out of your home.

Muskrats

A muskrat swimming through the water

Muskrats occasionally make a nuisance of themselves throughout Georgia.

Muskrats are medium-sized rodents, slightly larger and stockier than a Norway rat. They're semi-aquatic by nature and can be found along the edges of bodies of water where they build nests called "lodges" out of twigs, small branches, and mud. Their tails have a distinctive shape like a knife standing on its edge. They use their tails like rudders when swimming. They also slap them against the water to warn each other when there are predators in the area.

Muskrats are disliked for two reasons. The first is that their lodges can cause localized flooding when they block the flow of water. The second is that they are serious garden and agricultural pests. They also have this infuriating habit of taking just a bite or two from every vegetable in a garden that they like, thus destroying far more of the crop than they actually eat.

Muskrat control is achieved by trapping and removal on an as-needed basis. Gardens can also be fenced off to try to keep muskrats out, but the fence needs to be sturdy, at least 12 to 18 inches high, have openings of no more than two inches at the very most, and extend a few inches into the soil to prevent muskrats from burrowing under it.

Other than that, there is little that can be done to prevent "new" muskrats from moving in after we remove the "old" ones. But neither is there any need to control muskrats at all unless they are causing a flooding situation or are damaging crops. Other than in those two scenarios, muskrats are harmless.

Other Miscellaneous Animals

The Athens-Clarke County Regional Office of Rid-A-Critter provides control of a great many animals not listed here. Over the years we've done work removing or excluding rabbits, chipmunks, turtles, and even turkeys. These animals rarely cause problems for homeowners, but when they do, we can help. So if you have a problem with any nuisance animal, please contact us and we'll talk about it. Chances are that we can help.

 

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The Athens, Georgia office of Rid-A-Critter provides animal control and animal-proofing in Athens-Clarke, Greene, and parts of Barrow, Gwinnett, Hall, Banks, Jackson, and Oconee Counties in Georgia, including Athens, Auburn, Bogart, Commerce, Good Hope, Greensboro, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Watkinsville, and Winder. Your town not listed? Contact us.

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