SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 14 (UPI) -- Experts in the San Francisco Bay Area say residents should watch out for skunks as they enter their mating season.
The skunks spray their foul odor more often around this time of year, and it can be smelled throughout the Bay Area, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
"Everybody is spraying everybody," said Kelle Kacmarcik, wild-animal solutions manager at WildCare rehabilitation hospital in San Rafael. "They are out there competing for females and competing for territory. The females spray the males when they don't want to mate. Then the males are competing, so they spray one another, and then, since they are so focused on breeding, they aren't paying attention to us and they get startled easily."
More dogs, cats and humans are sprayed by skunks in January and February than any other time of the year, said Kacmarcik, who has been sprayed in the face twice at the animal hospital.
"It is pretty horrible," she said. "It's very bad. You can't even imagine."
The stench, which is sprayed by skunks in an oily mixture out of two glands in their anuses, smells like a combination of garlic, rotten egg and burned rubber, the news report said.
Kacmarcik suggested people keep their cats and dogs inside or on a leash this time of year and try to be loud if they know they are in an area populated by skunks.
"If you know you have some on your property, make some noise when you go outside and let them know you are coming and they generally run away," she said. "They are very docile animals. You can't blame them for spraying every now and then. It is their only defense mechanism."