Skunks are misunderstood. As unpleasant as a skunk encounter can be, they are beneficial in specific ways. Skunks play an essential role in Texas ecosystems. Their diet includes insects, small rodents, and agricultural pests like grubs, beetles, and mice.

Unfortunately, skunks can also be deadly.

Last Thursday, a skunk in the Mission Oaks neighborhood in Victoria County tested positive for rabies. Mission Oaks is in northwest Victoria County, off Upper Mission Valley Road.

In a press release, Victoria County officials ask people to contact Victoria County Animal Services department if they see skunks acting "weird." Unfortunately, many of us think skunks act weird naturally. Precisely,  what is weird in skunk behavior?

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The skunk that tested positive for rabies in the Mission Oaks neighborhood was out in the daytime, and it was chasing dogs.  Experts say that is weird for a skunk. Aggression is one of the main symptoms of rabid skunks. Look for a skunk that shows aggressive behavior. Usually, skunks will go to great lengths to avoid aggression.

Photo: karlumbriaco Source Getty Stock / ThinkStock
Getty Stock / ThinkStock

Rabid skunks may also make strange sounds like aggressive growling, snarling, or high-pitched squealing. Rabid skunks also have difficulty swallowing and may have excessive drooling and frothing at the mouth.

A rabid skunk may be more inclined to spray you. Fortunately, you will not become infected by a skunk's spray. You may make yourself and others sick from the smell, but skunk spray will not give you rabies.

Rabies is transmitted by being bitten or scratched by a rabid skunk.

Skunk encounters are normally bad enough, but they are even worse when they carry the risk of rabies.

Experts say you should also watch out for foxes, coyotes, raccoons, and bats in Victoria County. In addition, pet owners should make sure their dogs, cats, and ferrets have legally required rabies vaccines. Sadly, even if vaccinated, your pet can develop rabies.

Livestock can also contract the disease.

In humans, it is important to get shots if a rabid animal bites you. The shots are quite painful and must be administered before the virus enters the nervous system.

It is important to be alert for strange animal behavior, particularly if you live in the Mission Oaks neighborhood in Victoria County, but rabies can spread rapidly.

Spotting rabid behavior in animals is the key to staying healthy. Unfortunately, spotting rabid behavior in commuters is a little more difficult. It is important to note that road rage is not necessarily a symptom of rabies. Maybe people with it should have to take the painful rabies shots just to be sure.

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