Stinky critters help keep Mississauga’s rat and mice populations in check


Published March 15, 2023 at 10:00 am

Skunks have gotten a bit of a bad reputation for their sometimes stinky ways, but the quiet and often shy critters are a big help to homeowners, Animal Services workers in Mississauga say.

The black-and-white nocturnal animal benefits homeowners, landowners and, in more rural settings, farmers by eating many common pests like rats, field mice, moles, insects and grubs.

Their ability to create a stink is simply their defence system.

“Skunks are part of a healthy ecosystem. They keep our environment balanced by eating insects like wasps, hornets and grubs. Skunks are shy, nocturnal creatures that try to avoid confrontation,” City of Mississauga Animal Services staff says. “Skunks are expert diggers and may choose to burrow beneath a structure without a foundation, such as a shed, deck or front porch. To avoid conflicts, ensure your home is in good repair and remove food, such as bird seed, pet food and fallen fruit, from outside your property.”

Still, being sprayed by a skunk is an unpleasant experience, the City continues. And having your dog or cat sprayed during a confrontation causes problems, too.

Animal Services officers say that being sprayed can cause a burning sensation on the skin and if sprayed in the eyes, it could cause temporary blindness.

“If you’re sprayed in the eyes, make sure you flush the area immediately with clean water and seek medical assistance,” Animal Services staff says in an online information page.

“To protect pets from skunk encounters, keep a close eye on them while outside during spring and summer months, when skunks are actively seeking lawn grubs. Although skunk spray does not usually have lasting effects, it can make your pet ill if ingested.”

Residents are also reminded that if they spot a sick or distressed skunk, as with any critter, they should call Animal Services at 905-896-5858.

“If a skunk is staggering, falling over, approaching people or pets, moving in circles, or has paralyzed limbs, contact Animal Services,” the City says.

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