In this article, I would like to proportion what I learned about a polecat that took up residency under my house and I did not already know it was there.
My wife and I were surprised to find out that we had one or more polecats living under our house already though the signs were there. For several years off and on whenever we had been out and arrived back home, there was the fowl-smelling odor of a polecat at the door to the house from inside the garage. You may know a polecat. The other name it goes by is skunk.
It was always in the same area. The door was 20 feet from the closest outside wall, so the smell made no sense. I would look around and then the aroma would dissipate before I found anything. It was never the complete smell, just a whiff every so often.
The way we found the true problem was when our HVAC unit needed some work. While our HVAC repairman was working on our unit, he said he thought there is a cat living under our house. My attitude was that if the cat was not paying rent, he was out. So, I went looking as to how the cat got under our house.
We live in a brick home with a concrete foundation and no discernible access points. It turns out that on the inside wall of the crawl space, there was a hole about two feet long and six inches wide going down then turning to the outside. The hole came up under our deck, close to the house under some torn plastic ground cover sheeting behind the deck’s lattice.
The hole, on the outside, was two feet by two feet tapering down to approximately ten inches around. We could not see under the deck and, consequently, did not see the hole. The hole went down two feet and under the house footer then up and into the crawl space.
The plastic ground cover under the house had been pulled around and was no longer providing good moisture obstacle protection. So, I pulled it tight and stapled it to the ground with scenery staples.
In the time of action of stapling, I found the skunk’s home. It was directly under the steps from the garage. There were a few black and white hairs in a corner next to some concrete blocks. All of a sudden, it all made sense. That was what we smelled on and off when we arrived home.
With all the evidence of the skunk removed and with the help of my son, we proceeded to pour 640 pounds of concrete in the hole to keep the skunk OUT. New dirt was brought in to finish filling the hole and new plastic ground cover was stapled down. A new one-inch opening plastic lattice was installed around the deck.
We believe the skunk got in by going behind the steps of the deck and crawling past the sustain boards. We also additional 1/4 inch mesh galvanized wire behind the lattice to keep all but the smallest critters out. This year there have been no aromatic smells.
It turns out that skunks are really good at digging. They have large front claws, but they can not climb. Can you imagine yourself under a house in a three foot high space, confront to confront with a skunk? Well, I am happy to report that the skunk was not home when we went looking for the cat under the house.
If you think an occupant is home when you have to go into your crawl space, call animal control and have them verify the pest is gone. Better them than you!