a tell-tale tail – SOLC 2017 #29

You must be from the wildlife control service. I am glad you could come today.

Yes ma’am. Hello. Where are your squirrels?

I guess they are in the trees. I don’t have a problem with squirrels. I called about a skunk odor in our house.

Oh, sure. We get lots of calls…. Well how long have you had the stink?

It actually isn’t smelling now. It lasted just a short time one day last week. That’s when I called you.

Yes, ma’am. We sure have been busy. So – it ain’t stinking no more?

No, but this happened around this same time last year, and that time it lasted for a couple of days. But it went away when I aired out the house. Recently our neighbors have seen skunks nearby, and since the smell returned last week, I’d like you to check things out.

Sure thing, ma’am. Happy to. How do I get into the crawl space under your house?

Well, I don’t think the skunk is actually under my house. I think maybe it just sprayed outside, over near the HVAC unit, and the HVAC fan brought the smell into the house.

That’s what everyone says, ma’am. Nobody wants to think a skunk’s under there. But there almost always is. Let’s go look at your AC unit. I can usually spot skunk hair on the entry points. If any skunk hair is caught on those, we will know you got a skunk underneath there.


Yes, ma’am, here it is. There is hair that got hung when the skunk crawled in and out. What we can do is close up all but one of these holes under the HVAC unit, and then set the trap on the one that’s still open.

You mean I have a skunk under my house??

Well, it may be under there now, or not. It may just use this as a vacation home to come and go from time to time. Or it may have made a nest. Might be getting ready to have babies. It is mating season you know. That’s why you see so many dead skunks on the road this time of year. They just go crazy. Either way it has definitely been here and it will come back.

So why are those holes there under the HVAC unit anyway?

They are basically for the arms on the skid steer (forklift) to get under them at the warehouse so these heavy units can be moved around. But the holes for that leave openings when the unit is set in place at your house. The skunk or whatever critter can scoot in here and then go into your crawl space. Unless that opening into your crawl space is closed up. Let’s just look (shines a flashlight). Nope, yours isn’t screened off so the animal can go in and out from this space under the HVAC unit back and forth and underneath your house, too.

Oh, dear. I guess we were lucky not to have more odor all the time?

Yes, ma’am. Coulda been worse. And sometimes they chew up the duct work and/or insulation. I’ll check out your crawl space under there after we catch the skunk. I can fix all that for you too.

So… you quoted me a price of $95?

Yes ma’am that is for us putting these panels on to cover the holes. The panels are made of sturdy metal – we screw them in place and they are guaranteed for as long as you own this home. Now, we also charge $175 to set the traps and $75 to remove each animal we catch.

I see.

Tell you what, we will only charge you for removal of one animal no matter how many we catch.

Oh, my. Well, I don’t want a skunk under my house and I sure don’t want my home to have that scent again.

All right, we’ll get right to work then.


Ma’am we decided to set three traps once we saw the skunk.

You SAW a skunk today?

Yes ma’am we musta scared her when we screwed in those panels. It makes a loud noise for sure. She tried to back out of this little slit on the side here but it was too small. We’ll catch her though.

You mean there’s a skunk under my house right now.

Yes ma’am. See here:

Well we can’t have that. No indeed. Oh my goodness.

(Are you wondering if they just stuck a skunk tail in there like that? Just to make me think there was a skunk? That’s what I was wondering, but then again, we had definitely had that smell…)

So, ma’am, we set two traps in case there’s more than one skunk but we know there’s one in there for sure. And we set a third trap to catch another one if it tries to get back in.

Oh my goodness, how many do you think there are??

Well, probably just the one, and we’ll catch it. But if there are more we’ll get them too.

Oh, dear. Well, thank you for your help.

We’ll come check on things but you can call us if you see a skunk in the trap.

You want me to go over there and look into those traps?

Yes ma’am if you would.

But what if, … I mean,… could I get sprayed?

The skunk can’t spray once it gets caught in there because the trap ain’t tall enough for the skunk to lift its tail. It has to lift its tail to spray. You can stand back away from the trap and you might not see the skunk real good but if there’s one in there the container of peanut butter will be moved.

You use peanut butter to lure them in the trap?

Well, you can use a lot of different things, but the peanut butter works real good.

OK. Well, I guess I’ll see you tomorrow then. And hopefully we will catch a skunk.


Afternoon, ma’am.  Did we catch anything?

No, I did check from time to time, and I would have called you, but there was nothing there as of the last time I checked.

That’s ok, it’ll get hungry before long. I’ll go take a quick look and I’ll check back tomorrow.


The next morning I checked the traps and sure enough there was a skunk in one of them. It was hard to see but definitely there. And not smelling – yet.

I called my new best friends, and they came by that afternoon and removed the trap and the skunk without incident. They left the traps for five more days but no other skunks came in or out. When they came the last time they removed all the trappings and closed up the last hole. They found no damage under the house either.

I am thankful for people who are willing to do this kind of work. A job well done. Money well spent.  Now to get that hanging limb out of the tree before it falls on our neighbor’s shed. That’s a tale for another time.

6 thoughts on “a tell-tale tail – SOLC 2017 #29

  1. Adrienne says:

    You really capture this process beautifully through dialogue. I felt anxious just reading it.

  2. I don’t know what I expected when you said wildlife, but it wasn’t a skunk! What a tale! Glad it wasn’t a lifted tail again!

  3. Great post. Very entertaining! I almost expected them to not find anything! Glad it all got resolved. Loved your use of dialog and how you set it off from the right side of the page.

  4. Fran Haley says:

    What a wonderful account! This flowed beautifully and the dialogue was so real. Well done!

  5. failingreatly says:

    Skunks are so common around where I live, my dog was sprayed three times in my own backyard last year. Luckily, I don’t have a spot they can get under to live. Glad your animal specialist was successful – I was doubting them for a minute, there, I must admit!

  6. Tim Gels says:

    Like Diane, I wasn’t thinking skunk–wow! You wove a great story that kept me engaged to the end. Thank you!

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