Man, it just doesn’t get much worse than this. Four skunks dug their winter burrow under Karen McCullough’s house in Sheffield Lake, Ohio. Last November, McCullough and her family started hearing scratching noises under the kitchen and living room floors. The scratching set off the family’s dogs and cats that would bark and hiss and paw the carpeting. The skunks responded in the manner of their tribe — they sprayed, and sprayed, and sprayed.

The over-powering stench caused the McCulloughs to spend most of the freezing winter with their windows wide open. Their clothing, couch, chairs — everything! — still smell of skunk half a year later. McCullough said it’s been embarrassing to have to apologize to friends for the way she smells. “I’ve cried a few times. Inside, I’m having a nervous breakdown,” she confided.

Trappers finally lured the skunks from their den and the family is now living in a cramped hotel room while workers replace all their flooring. They’re also pouring a concrete slab to replace the original crawl space under their home. McCullough isn’t taking any chances on a repeat.

Skunks, groundhogs, raccoons, mice and possums can create some serious problems for homeowners. Particularly in newly developed areas, loss of habitat can force these wild animals to seek a substitute in your warm, cozy home. These animals can bring rabies, mites, ticks and fleas with them. For your safety, trapping and removal should only be performed by experienced wildlife control professionals.