How to Get Rid of Skunks?
Insects are a skunk’s favorite dish, but the opportunistic animals will dine on pretty much anything. Completely cut off their food supply, and they likely won’t stick around.
• Cover trash cans with tight-fitting lids and place them in a secure location where they can’t be easily tipped over.
• Regularly tidy up fruit and nuts that have fallen from trees on the property to keep skunks from scavenging.
• Avoid putting kitchen scraps in your compost and keep it well covered until the skunk moves on.
• The seed you offer to attract songbirds can inadvertently make a tasty snack for skunks. Secure feeders to ensure they can’t be turned over, and be conscientious about cleaning up any spilled seed.
• Need another reason to mow the lawn? Skunks love the insects that live in tall, lush grass.
PART 2: Deter like a demon.
After removing all food sources, employ the following techniques to get skunks to vamoose even more readily.
• Skunks are nocturnal, foraging at night, and are scared of bright lights. Leave your exterior lights on or install motion sensors that will turn on when pesky prowlers cross their path.
- 1 Skunk behaviour
- 2 Tips for keeping skunks away from your home
- 3 How to get rid of “skunk smell”?
- 4 How to get rid of skunks in your yard
- 5 Why getting rid of skunks can be dangerous
- 6 Why Should You Get Rid of Skunks for Good?
- 7 Common Skunk Repellents and Their (Moderate) Effectiveness
- 8 Liquid and Granular Skunk Repellents
- 9 How to keep skunks out of your yard
- 10 Wildlife Management of Minneapolis Service Area
- 11 How do you check for skunks?
- 12 Products you can use to fix a skunk infestation
- 13 Frequently asked questions
Skunks will eat just about anything, from insects to worms, eggs, fruit, nuts, and more. Garbage provides a ready source of nourishment.
For shelter, skunks dig burrows (sometimes under porches and decks) where they raise their young in summer and live in semi-hibernation during the winter months. Skunks are poor climbers, so you needn’t worry about finding them on a roof or other high place.
Tips for keeping skunks away from your home
1. Keeping skunks off your lawn and out of your garden
- Make sure your lawn is treated for white grubs.
- If a skunk is feeding in your vegetable garden, spray a commercially available pepper-based repellent, or one that you’ve prepared yourself.
- If necessary, put a metal fence around your garden. The Ministry of Forests, Wildlife and Parks recommends using wire mesh with openings of 5 cm or less, and stakes between 1.5 and 1.8 m high.
2. Keeping skunks away from your garbage
- Put plastic garbage bags in a hinged wooden or metal bin.
- Use a garbage bin with a lid that is difficult to remove. You can also attach the bin to a nearby fence to keep it from being knocked over.
- Clean your garbage bin often to eliminate the odours that attract skunks.
- Another strategy is to wait until the morning on garbage day to take out the garbage.
How to get rid of “skunk smell”?
Contrary to popular belief, tomato juice is not the most effective method of eliminating the persistent, unpleasant smell left by a skunk.
1. To get skunk odour out of clothes or furniture
Use a mixture of 1 part vinegar to 10 parts water. To rid a car or garage of a skunk’s smell, place an odour-absorbing sponge, which can be found in pet stores, in the space.
2. To wash a pet that has been sprayed by a skunk
Prepare the following solution. Wash your pet, taking care to avoid getting liquid in its eyes, and rinse thoroughly.
- 1 litre (4 cups) hydrogen peroxide
- 60 mL (¼ cup) sodium bicarbonate (baking soda)
- 5 mL (1 tsp) liquid soap
How to get rid of skunks in your yard
It is also suggested that the management of grubs and other insects in lawns can reduce food for skunks. In theory, this will deter the animal from further digging.
If these habitat modifications don’t work, wildlife traps might be necessary to get rid of skunks. This is best left to a pest management professional due to the dangers skunks present (discussed below). If you choose to risk it, the Entomology Department at Purdue University recommends:
Why getting rid of skunks can be dangerous
Aside from dealing with the well-known smell of skunk spray and possibly tending to nasty bite and scratch wounds, the entomologists at Purdue University warn:
The experts at UC IPM add to this, saying:
‟Skunks can also be carriers of other diseases including leptospirosis, listeriosis, canine distemper, canine hepatitis, Q-fever, and tularemia.”
Why Should You Get Rid of Skunks for Good?
Before we learn how to get rid of skunks, let’s find out why you should shoo them away from your property forever!
Thus, if you have a wild skunk in your home or yard, it is important to remove it, although you must use caution to avoid being sprayed.
Use Traps to Capture Adult Skunks
The best way to deal with this problem is to find their entry point, use traps to capture the adults.
If there are kits which are capable of leaving their den, you may use exclusion tactics, such as a one-way door, to remove them from your home. However, if the kits are too young to leave on their own, then you will need to hire a professional.
Seal Up the Entry Points Post-Eviction
Once the skunks are safely removed, be sure to seal up any entry points. Chemical sprays are available to remove any musk, which will otherwise permeate your home and last for six months or more.
Use the Exclusion Method
If there are kits present who are too young to leave the burrow, then you should call a professional.
- Place your traps near the remaining exit to capture the skunks as they leave to find food.
- Once you are sure they are gone, you may seal the remaining entry point.
Sheds and other low clearance structures are often difficult to see into. Check for signs of kits, if possible, or hire a professional to be safe.
How to Get Rid of Skunks: Alternative Removal Methods
- live traps
- professional removal
- automated sprinklers (the experience scares skunks and other animals away).
Common Skunk Repellents and Their (Moderate) Effectiveness
- You will still need to take precautions, such as installing a fence, in order to keep the skunks away.
- Be warned that your dog’s urine may attract stray dogs if they are not fixed.
Many home remedies call for mothballs or ammonia as a means to repel skunks. While skunks do have a sensitive sense of smell, these methods are not very effective.
In addition, ammonia may be washed away by rain and must be reapplied frequently. If you choose to use ammonia to turn away a skunk, your best choice is the aforementioned predator urine.
Liquid and Granular Skunk Repellents
Learn how to get rid of skunks with these natural, non-lethal methods.
They may also dig under your house or deck, causing damage to your home and its wiring. To top it all off, their spray is pungent and hard to get rid of of.
When deciding how to approach the removal of skunks on your property, you first need to understand that you run the risk of being sprayed, and plan accordingly.
There are a variety of critters that may be in your garden, so you’ll need to identify that skunks are indeed your problem.
Identifying Skunks on Your Property
Skunks Eating Grubs
At times it may be hard to pin down whether there are skunks or raccoons in your yard, since both animals like to dig shallow holes in search of grubs.
You may or may not find skunk feces in your yard. It’s typically about an inch or two long, with the remains of insects in it.
The number one way to tell if you have skunks on your property is if you smell their strong spray. It’s pungent and unmistakeable!
It smells so badly because of the mixture of chemicals containing sulfur, called thiols.
What To Do When There Are Skunks In Your Yard or House
First you’ll need to determine how bad the situation is. Do you suspect a skunk has delivered a litter of kits under your house? Or is it just a rogue skunk that made their way through your yard on a random night?
Depending on the situation, you may want to consider hiring a professional. If you decide to move forward on your own, proceed with caution, starting with the least invasive methods and working your way up to more invasive solutions.
What Attracts Skunks
Removing attractants in your yard is the best thing you can do to ensure the skunks don’t stick around or continue coming back.
Skunks aren’t above eating your pet’s old food. Make sure you put it away, especially at night.
Skunks are omnivores, so they also eat nuts, plants, and berries. If you have a garden growing, you may find some of it dug up and eaten.
When times get tough, skunks have been known to dig through the garbage in search of scraps. Make sure your trash cans have tight-fitting lids, and don’t leave any trash bags by your door.
Grubs, Earthworms, & Insects
If you garden, earthworms are great for your soil, so you won’t want to eliminate them. But for grubs and other insects, you might consider getting rid of them so skunks aren’t as attracted to your yard.
Skunks are always searching for shelter, especially if a female is preparing to birth a litter of kits. If you see holes near your deck, or smell the faint scent of skunk spray, it’s possible a skunk made a den on your property.
Chickens & Eggs
If you raise chickens, they may be attracting skunks to your property. And believe it or not, skunks can take out an entire flock of chickens, along with their eggs.
How To Get Rid of Skunks In Your Yard
Getting rid of skunks in your yard breaks down into fairly easy steps. The trick is to pinpoint exactly what’s attracting them to your property, as well as which deterrents and repellents are most effective for your situation.
Step 1: Eliminate Attractants, as mentioned above
Step 2: Apply Skunk Repellents and Deterrents
Step 3: Check To See If The Skunks Have Left The Premises
Step 4: If The Skunks Still Remain, Adjust Repellents and Deterrents To Drive The Skunks Away
Step 5: Set Catch and Release Traps
Skunk Repellents and Deterrents
There are a few options available to you in terms of repelling and deterring skunks from coming onto your property. All options mentioned are 100% natural and safe, and will not harm the skunks, your garden, or any other animals.
Home Repellents For Skunks
Many people are curious about what home remedy will get rid of skunks. Some of these homemade repellents can work. However, if the skunks are comfortable enough, it may not be as effective.
Don’t forget that with homemade repellents comes the responsibility of frequent applications, as the elements such as wind and rain easily wear down on the scent and taste.
- Homemade Skunk Repellent Spray (a mixture of hot peppers, onion, jalepeno, cayenne pepper, and water, boiled for a few minutes and strained.)
- Predator Urine (even the urine of your own pets can work if you’re somehow able to collect it, or you can purchase predator urine at a variety of outdoor stores in your area.)
- Ammonia (place ammonia soaked rags in buckets around the perimeter of your yard.)
Please do NOT use chocolate as a skunk repellent. The theobromine found in chocolate is poisonous to skunks, as well as many other animals.
Moth balls are also commonly suggested, but they’re highly toxic, with very little results.
Predator Guard’s Solar LED Deterrent Lights are typically used to protect livestock animals from predators, but it’s effective regardless.
Under Your House, Deck, or Shed
If there are skunks under your shed, house, or deck, the situation becomes a little more complex. They’ve made themselves comfortable, and it’s not quite as easy to get them to leave.
Search your property for dens, and apply the repellents around the opening. Predator urine in particular, is great at driving skunks out of their den, but they’ll soon return.
You’ll have to close the hole up once you’re certain that it’s empty, and continue applying repellents around the opening of the den.
If nothing else has worked, setting up catch and release traps may be your last hope. They’re highly effective, but it’s not without it’s drawbacks. You’ll have to go out of your way to not get sprayed while you transport and release the skunks.
Check your local and state laws regarding the trapping of skunks before proceeding.
How To Trap Skunks
The first thing you’ll want to do is pick out a skunk trap. The ideal size for a live skunk trap is large enough for them to move around somewhat comfortably, but small enough that they aren’t able to lift their tail up super high to spray.
Skunks are far less likely to spray you if their tail can’t lift up all the way!
What Bait To Use For Skunks
How To Set Up The Trap
Set the skunk trap up close to their den, or anywhere that you know the skunks are frequenting. Do this in the evening, checking the trap in the early morning.
Where and How To Release Skunks
Once the skunk has been caught, approach the trap carefully and calmly. Be sure to bring a towel or blanket to drape over the top of the cage. This discourages spraying, and calms the animal down.
Frequently Asked Questions
What will keep skunks away?
Frequent applications of homemade repellents, or infrequent applications of commercial repellent spray should suffice in keeping skunks away.
If the problem persists, there may be open food or water sources that you’re unaware of. Be diligent about removing attractants.
Is it legal to kill skunks?
Should I use skunk poison?
Poison of any kind isn’t advised, not only because it poses a threat to the skunks you’re trying to get rid of, but to the plants, pets, and other animals in your area. It’s a health risk to everyone involved.
Considering there are ways to get rid of skunks without the use of poison, we urge you to at least explore those opportunities first.
Do skunks bite?
Skunks are not typically aggressive, and biting is rare. Most cases of skunks biting humans has occurred when the animal is infected with the rabies virus.
If you’re worried about your pets, they’re far more likely to simply get sprayed by a skunk than bit.
When do skunks have babies?
Skunks breed in the late winter, typically in February and March. The gestational period for female skunks is roughly 60 to 75 days, with an average litter size of 6 to 8 kits.
Do moth balls work to keep skunks away?
Moth balls can work to keep skunks away, but they’re not the most effective or natural solution. They’re highly toxic, and when you’re around them, you’re essentially inhaling insecticide. They’re bad news for your garden, pets, and your family’s health.
When do skunks come out?
Skunks are active all year long, and they don’t hibernate, though they do sleep longer during the Winter. They’re nocturnal, meaning they’re most active at night. This means you’re far more likely to smell skunks on your property, than you are to see them.
Are you dealing with skunks on your property? What methods have been most effective for you? Which methods didn’t work? Let us know in the comments below!
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How to keep skunks out of your yard
Fortunately, there are several humane, nonlethal ways to keep skunks off your property.
1. Remove food sources
You may be unwittingly extending a dinner invitation to skunks if your property contains easily accessible food.
“Keep a lid on outdoor trash cans and make sure that any bags inside the can that contain food waste are tied up,” says Chuck Cerbini, executive vice president at New Jersey–based Corbett Exterminating.
“Skunks will forage for human food, but they also like to eat insects and larvae, grubs, small rodents, frogs, snakes, birds, and eggs. So if you have a pest problem in your lawn, this may attract pests further up the food chain,» Cerbini says.
Skunks like grubs in particular. If you eliminate the grubs, you can reduce the chances that skunks will be in your yard, according to Doug Oster of Everybody Gardens. Oster recommends an organic approach.
“For immediate results, use beneficial nematodes that find the grubs and dispatch them—but the nematodes must be applied when soil temperatures are at 50 degrees [Fahrenheit] or warmer,” Oster says.
2. Provide disruptions
You could also use a good old-fashioned scare tactic to keep skunks from coming back.
3. Eliminate potential habitats
Skunks aren’t just looking for food—they’re also looking for a place to set up shop.
«Skunks don’t like to build their own nests; they prefer to move into abandoned ones that other wildlife have left behind,” says Cerbini. “They also like to burrow and can dig under fences.”
Cerbini recommends looking around your property—including your garage—for signs that other animals, like rabbits, moles, or foxes, have created nests in the past.
Cover any openings in your home’s foundation with wire mesh or sheet metal. However, make sure that these coverings extend a few inches below the soil’s surface or the skunks will just dig under them to get through.
Wildlife Management of Minneapolis Service Area
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How do you check for skunks?
Skunks have claws that are perfect for digging. If you find 3- to 4-inch deep holes throughout your garden and lawn, there is a good possibility you have skunks on the hunt for grubs. These nocturnal animals are most active at night and will dig in soft soil.
However, you are more likely to smell a skunk than you are to see one. The unmistakable scent is another identifier when checking for skunks. If you find tracks, yard erosion, and that pungent odor, you can safely assume that skunks are the culprit.
You can also check your yard for skunk feces. Their feces tend to be two inches long, half an inch wide, and contain the remains of the insects that skunks love to eat.
Products you can use to fix a skunk infestation
- Solar Ultrasonic Animal Repeller – This product emits ultrasonic sounds (which only animals can hear) to repel the unwanted skunks in your yard. It is eco-friendly, weatherproof, and 100% safe for animals and humans.
- All-Natural Rodent Repellent Spray – This natural repellent made with peppermint oil will leave skunks wondering what happened to their coveted trash area or home under your deck or crawl space. Peppermint oil is a natural deterrent that changes animal behavior around your property.
- Yard Enforcer Motion-Activated Sprinkler – This sprinkler humanely repels skunks and keeps them out of plants, yards, and gardens using a harmless spray of water.
Frequently asked questions
How do you get skunks in a yard?
Skunks are attracted to garbage, bird or pet food, water sources, and shelter under houses or sheds. Keep an eye out for potential spots a skunk would like to make its home.
How do you spot skunk burrows?
Skunks burrow in a wide range of locations including under decks, porches, fallen trees, drainpipes, and rock piles. Be aware of tracks, a musky odor, or holes in your garden and yard. These are tell-tale signs of a skunk hanging around.
How do you humanely relocate skunks?
How do you keep skunks from returning?
Prevention is key to keeping skunks away. Close off any areas under your home, garage, or shed where a skunk can burrow. Always keep trash cans securely shut. Lawn maintenance, including grub prevention, will decrease skunks foraging for food.