Skunks can be beautiful creatures that are an important part of the ecosystem. But as wonderful as they can be for other wildlife, no one wants a skunk wandering around their yard. They stink, they pester, and they scare pets and children.
So what do we do about that? There are plenty of ways to get rid of skunks, but it’s not as simple as putting skunk repellant out and forgetting about you. It’s important to learn why you do what you do, rather than just do it.
How To Recognize A Skunk
You may think skunks are easy to spot, but many people confuse raccoons, opossums, and other animals with skunks. Just like on Looney Tunes, some people even swear that they saw a skunk when what they really saw was a cat.
So how can you be sure?
The White Stripe
If you think you spot a skunk, try to look at their forehead. There will be a thin white stripe running down it that runs all the way down its back and tail as well. What you need to look at though is the thinness of the stripe on its head.
The head stripe is very thin but it’s always easy to spot. The stripe is bright white, never grey like other animals. Other things to look out for are the bushy tail, badger-like face, and low-to-the-ground body.
Skunks don’t burrow to find a place to live, not out in the open. Skunks burrow in order to look for food. They love bugs and will dig holes all over your hard looking for them. The holes won’t be deep, but rather shallow.
Under Porches And Decks
The only time skunks burrow to find a home is when there is already a place waiting for them underneath. Check the edge of your deck or porch for burrows which is a sign that a skunk could be nearby.
This one is obvious. Skunks don’t necessarily stink naturally. But their spray is horrendous. If you smell it, it’s unmistakable. Or so you thought. Other animals, like wild hogs, have a natural skunky smell too.
Hogs are much more dangerous than skunks, so be on the lookout for them as well if you smell a skunky smell in your yard.
Where Do Skunks Come From
Skunks typically live in forests near the edge, but they can also make their home in grasslands and deserts. They are quite lazy when it comes to homemaking and can be found in abandoned burrows or hollowed logs.
If they do build their own homes, they create small dens for themselves in the dirt, grass, or brush. If you live outside of the Americas, chances are you won’t see a skunk because they are not native to other continents.
What Attracts Skunks
What’s so annoying about skunks is that they are omnivores and will eat just about anything that won’t harm them. This makes keeping attractants away nearly impossible. But you can always try!
If you leave pet food out on your porch or in a shed, skunks will sniff it out. They aren’t above eating your pet’s food for nourishment and will keep coming back if they find out that the food will always be there.
Insects are generally a skunk’s number one food source. While you can’t, and don’t want to, keep all insects away, you can spray for bugs. Hire a professional or get bug repellant that is made for yards.
As with most wild herbivores and omnivores, a garden will attract skunks. They are in search of food and fruits and veggies will do just fine. Not to mention, insects are also attracted, which is another food source.
Believe it or not, skunks will even eat chickens. Not only that, but they can take out an entire coop overnight. They’ll steal eggs, or go straight for the chicken. Animals like chickens have little to no defense against skunks.
Like raccoons, skunks are attracted to trash and garbage. If you don’t keep it where they can’t smell it, they will surely come in every night for a buffet. Try building a pin for the cans so it knows it can’t reach it.
Like most animals, skunks are attracted to safe places. If you have a porch or some other area they can climb under, they will likely use it as a new home. However, this isn’t something you can simply make absent from your life.
How To Keep Them From Spraying
The reason that skunks are feared more than raccoons or opossums is that skunks can spray, ruining your entire week. But keeping them from spraying isn’t very difficult. All you have to do is learn the reason why the spray.
Day And Night
Skunks are nocturnal, which means they sleep during the day and are awake at night. They can be seen during the day, but they are much more active at night. So you’re more likely to get sprayed at night.
Skunks are more likely to spray other animals than they are to humans. Most humans don’t come across as much of a threat from afar. But animals have a natural instinct to attack or protect themselves.
How To Repel Skunks
Repelling skunks is the only way to get rid of them unless you’re willing to trap them. But we’ll go over trapping skunks later. For now, we’ll focus on the different ways you can repel skunks and keep them away.
A repellant system is one of the most surefire ways to repel skunks. It can work for all kinds of animals and other pests. It usually works electronically and can cost anywhere from $10 to a few $100 depending on the system you choose.
Homemade repellant is the cheapest way to get rid of skunks. You can use a mixture of jalapeno juices, cayenne, and other hot substances and spray it in problem areas. Or you can spray predator urine in the same areas.
Skunks hate bright lights, they are nocturnal after all. Getting yard lights to shine down on areas you’ve seen skunks can prevent them from returning. They’ll go back to their natural habitat where it’s dark when they’re awake.
A fence is kind of an obvious choice, but it’s not always affordable or doable. Some properties have restrictions. But if you can get a fence, then it should work perfectly, as long as it has been approved for skunks.
Another great way to get rid of skunks is to get rid of attractants. This would be the list we talked about earlier. You may not be able to get rid of them all, but you can at least have a good start by removing pet food and garbage.
Baiting And Trapping Skunks
Baiting skunks isn’t advisable unless done by a professional. After all, we’re trying to get rid of them, not attract them. But if you do decide to bait them, at least you know what attracts them now.
Know that if you do trap a skunk, it will spray immediately, and likely shortly after it sees you. After his initial six sprays or so, he will be vulnerable for a few days, so let it air out before trying to go retrieve him.
Doing Things Humanely
It’s important to not harm the skunk. This means no poisons or deadly traps. Unlike bugs and other pests, you can get in trouble for hurting a skunk, so be careful and call a professional before resorting to drastic measures.
Is It Time To Call A Professional?
If you can’t get rid of skunks without setting harmful traps, then call a professional. But try giving it about a week after you remove attractants or set up repellants. You don’t want to call animal control too early, wasting their time and your money.
How To Get Rid Of Skunk Smell
If you do get sprayed by a skunk, try not to panic. The most important thing to do is to make sure it doesn’t get into your eyes or any open wounds. If you can do this, you’re safe. Then all you’re left with is that nasty smell.
There are over-the-counter de-skunking products that work for you and your dog. If you want to be safe, you can order some online before you get sprayed and keep them on-hand in case of an emergency.
Homemade Mixture – Dogs
It’s important to wear rubber gloves and to never mix this ahead of time. It can be dangerous if it sets or if it gets too hot or cold. After you have washed your dog, make sure you dispose of the liquid safely.
- 1 quart of 3-percent hydrogen peroxide
- 1/4 cup baking soda
- 1 teaspoon liquid dishwashing soap
A Baking Soda Bath
A safer way to wash yourself and your dog is to take a warm bath with baking soda. You can wash with a sponge or soak for fifteen minutes. Baking soda is a great odor remover and can even work on skunk smell.
Do Skunks Bite?
This all depends on whether it’s rabid or not. A normal skunk will not bite unless threatened. Even then, it will likely spray. A rabid skunk however will bite. Make sure your pets are always up-to-date on their shots.
As for you, if you do get bit by any wild animal, it’s best to go to the doctor immediately or call your provider and ask them what to do. Rabid skunks are fairly easy to spot because they are aggressive.
But the best practice is to stay away from wild mammals when you can. Keep your distance and they’ll probably keep theirs.