Understanding basic skunk behavior and physiology, as well as any legal impediments will assist you greatly in your endeavors. Most importantly, you’ll need to learn how to get rid of the smell if you or someone gets sprayed!
- Humane Trapping Methods for Removing Skunks
- Removing Food Sources to Get Rid of Skunks
- Using Natural Repellents to Deter Skunks
- Using Lights and Sounds to Repel Skunks
- Hiring Wildlife Control Experts for Skunk Problems
- Signs of Skunks On Your Vicinity
- What Diseases Do Skunks Carry?
- Do Skunks Dig?
- How Much Does Skunk Removal Cost?
- Is it Legal to Kill Skunks?
- Will Antifreeze Kill Skunks?
- How to Get Rid of Skunk Smell?
- Do Skunks Provide Any Benefit Whatsoever?
Humane Trapping Methods for Removing Skunks
Trapping skunks humanely is often the best DIY method to remove them from your property before you relocate them. However, you must follow the right steps to trap skunks safely and prevent them from spraying you.
Choose an Appropriate Trap
- Use a live cage or box trap designed for skunk-size animals.
- The trap should be about 10 inches by 12 inches by 32 inches in size.
- Look for traps made of heavy-duty wire mesh or plastic to prevent the skunk from chewing its way out.
- Traps that close via a gravity-based door are more humane and reliable
- Avoid using old-fashioned leg hold traps, as they can harm the animal and raise the risk of getting sprayed.
Bait the Trap Effectively
You need an irresistible bait to lure the skunk inside:
- Use sardines packed in oil as bait; skunks cannot resist their smell.
- Peanut butter.
- Cat food or canned fish packed in oil.
- Fruit like watermelon or berries.
- Put the bait at the back of the trap to ensure the skunk enters fully while investigating the smell.
- Tie the bait to a string or stick, so replacing it doesn’t require reaching inside the trap.
- Avoid wearing gloves when handling or applying bait, as your scent could repel the skunk.
Set the Trap in an Appealing Location
Site the trap where skunk activity has been high:
- Along paths by garden edges or flower beds.
- Near compost piles or trash bins.
- Close to openings or dug-out areas by foundations.
- Under decks or porches.
- Place the trap on a flat surface in a visible area, but cover the top and sides with burlap or a dark tarp for security.
- Do not set the trap near loud machinery, as the noise could scare the skunk away once it is trapped.
Check Traps Frequently
- In the early morning, right after skunks finish their night foraging, check the traps.
- Approach quietly and slowly to avoid spooking a captured skunk.
- If a mother skunk and her babies are trapped, first release the mother, then cover the trap. This may prevent defensive spraying.
- Never keep a skunk trapped for more than 12 hours
Removing Food Sources to Get Rid of Skunks
Skunks are drawn to easy food sources around homes and gardens. To discourage skunks from staying and causing damage, it’s crucial to remove these food sources.
Manage Your Garbage
Skunks forage through trash seeking scraps. Make containers inaccessible:
- Invest in trash cans with airtight, locking lids to contain smells
- Use bungee cords to fasten lids extra securely.
- Place trash bags inside metal bins or latched plastic containers.
- Keep all garbage storage far from your house’s foundation and wooden porches.
- Take trash to the curb the morning of pickup to avoid overnight scavenging.
Pet Food Control
Do not leave pet food accessible outside ever:
- Feed pets indoors, then promptly remove leftover food
- Store all bulk pet food bags indoors on shelves or in lidded bins
- Dispose of waste from pet bowls immediately after pets finish meals
Eliminate Possible Denning Sites
Skunks seek sheltered spots to raise young like:
- Wood or brush piles
- Tangles of vegetation
- Old sheds, decks with access underneath
- Openings under porches or steps
Ensuring your property limits such sites takes away their nesting appeal.
Protect Your Garden
Hungry skunks will raid ripening fruits and vegetables:
- Install wire fencing or hardware cloth around the perimeter of planting beds
- Cover plants with protective row covers
- Apply repellents made from hot pepper wax, garlic oil, or citrus oils
Using Natural Repellents to Deter Skunks
Using natural scent repellents can help move nuisance skunks, already nesting on your property, to another location. Strong, unfamiliar smells can deter skunks who are looking for places to nest and forage.
Use these cheap, easy-to-make odor repellents generously around your yard:
- Fox, coyote, or bobcat urine is available at garden centers or online.
- Mimics scent markers of predators.
- Signals area may be a risky spot.
- Use a spray bottle to apply patches around the property.
- Reapply after heavy rain.
- Highly pungent odor skunks avoid.
- Mix one part household ammonia with 3 parts water.
- Soak cotton balls/rags and place them by garden edges.
- Spray solution along foundations and under decks.
- Will need to reapply ammonia every 3-5 days.
Mothballs/Balls of Human Hair Trimmings
- Strong unnatural scents prompt avoidance.
- Place open containers of mothballs around landscaping.
- Put human hair clippings inside pantyhose legs and hang on fences.
- Or nail homemade hairball sachets to the outsides of sheds.
- Replace mothballs/hair every 2-3 weeks.
- Mix castor oil with water and small amounts of vinegar or garlic oil.
- Spray areas around gardens and compost piles.
- Can soak rags placed by trash bins or under porches.
- Must reapply these liquid solutions after heavy rains.
Using Lights and Sounds to Repel Skunks
Bright lights and loud noises in their foraging areas make the habitat unpleasant, causing skunks to leave.
- Water spray scared skunks as effectively as predator scent markers.
- Install sprinkler heads connected to hoses in key dug-out areas or prime feeding zones.
- Adjust heads to cover spans of 5 – 15 feet.
- Incorporate inexpensive battery-powered motion sensor spotlights.
- Add strobe light effects for extra startling impact.
- Check battery charge weekly.
Ultrasonic Pest Repellers
- Devices emit high-frequency sound waves exceeding human hearing range.
- Signals simulate the presence of predators/competitors.
- Position 3-5 electronic units around skunk nesting zones.
- Effective coverage spans approximately 1200 square feet
- Units may lose effectiveness over time as skunks become accustomed.
- Sound may also impact beneficial species.
- Low-cost audio deterrent.
- Place battery or solar-powered radio tuned to talk show stations by active burrows/dens.
- Voices create ongoing disturbance without acclimation.
- Change station every few days to avoid habituation.
Hiring Wildlife Control Experts for Skunk Problems
Wildlife management experts can use advanced tools and methods to effectively remove skunks, your unwanted striped guests, from your property.
Reasons to Call the Pros
Turn to certified professionals when:
- Skunks have moved into crawl spaces, and attics or dug expansive burrows under sheds or porches that provide too sheltered a habitat.
- They are raising a litter of baby kits making removal urgent before weaning.
- You’ve been sprayed and need decontamination assistance, not just exclusion work.
Services Wildlife Control Companies Provide
Reputable firms offer comprehensive skunk solutions:
- Humane trapping using bait irresistible to skunks.
- Exclusion work sealing up all possible den access holes.
- Emergency cleanup when musk spray occurs.
- Preventative maintenance inspecting for openings skunks can exploit.
What to Expect from a Professional Service Call
- An inspection to identify entry points and needed repairs.
- Live trap setup to capture and remove current skunks.
- Sealing off exterior holes or digging out dens.
- Installation of tunnel guards below porches or foundations.
- Follow-up monitoring to ensure no new activity.
Signs of Skunks On Your Vicinity
If the powerful scent of skunk spray has not already indicated that a skunk is nearby your street or house, there are plenty of other physically tangible and visible signs to identify a skunk’s handiwork by. These include:
- Damaged crops, such as corn only up to the lower ears due to the limited height of the animal
- Raided trash cans
- Damage to poultry, such as stolen eggs or even a maimed/sequestered chicken or two.
- Holes in the lawn, 3-4 inches in diameter and conical in shape.
- Footprints in the ground similar to a cat’s, but with five toes.
- Rolled-back sod, which the skunk is capable of rolling back like a carpet.
Keep in mind, even the faint odor a skunk, whether in the aftermath or before a spray is a possible indication that a skunk has made its den within your vicinity. Strong, obviously freshly-released spray could indicate mating season when males are fighting each other for mating privileges in the late Winter.
If you or the neighbor own dogs, their strong barkings at night could be due to being alerted to a skunk’s presence. Just make sure you’re able to make a visual confirmation of the animal which your pets are barking at, either through catching the animal at the time of agitation, or through motion-activated night-vision cameras you can install on your property.
What Diseases Do Skunks Carry?
Skunks do not carry any particular large number amount of pathogens mammals their size do, in comparison to say, raccoons or coyotes. Some of their most serious diseases and/or parasites include but are not limited to:
- Leptospirosis – a bacterial disease that can cause a wide range of symptoms that can be mistaken for other diseases.
- Canine distemper – a viral disease (that can be airborne) that attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal and nervous systems of dogs, and other mammals.
- Canine hepatitis – a viral disease that affects the liver of dogs, which can be fatal.
- Roundworm – a parasite that causes malnutrition in its hosts.
- Rabies – a virus that is almost always fatal, and transmitted through contact with fluids or bites.
A common symptom of these diseases transferred into both humans and their mammalian pets is lethargy and problems with diet. Rabies, however, is a serious and lethal threat which can be transmitted easily with every bite from a wild animal, and demands immediate medical attention and a visit to the hospital for proper shots and treatment.
Do Skunks Dig?
Certainly, skunks are prolific diggers, and this is one of the primary reasons they are considered pests upon human property. In fact, as stated earlier, one of their primary methods of obtaining their favorite food, insects, is through digging through plants and soil with their powerful front paws, whether it be through your garden or lawn sod!
While this occurs all the time in the wild, if a skunk is exercising its talents on your lawn it can result in some ugly-looking blotches on your lawn or backyard. The skunk also begins digging when it seeks to create a quick shelter, usually underneath buildings via foundation openings.
How Much Does Skunk Removal Cost?
According to angieslist.com, the national average of the United States to remove a small wild animal can cost anywhere from 125$ to 375$, which varies upon your location and the difficulty of reaching the animal. However, if you’re considering this option it’s best to not hire for cheap (at least 150$ and above).
If and when you decide to hire a company, make sure that they have proper licensing, bonding and insurance. The stakes are particularly higher when the rabies-carrying skunk is involved, which will draw an emphasis on state and local regulations you wouldn’t expect when dealing with, say— moles or similarly smaller varmints.
Is it Legal to Kill Skunks?
As with researching any legal boundaries concerning the allowance of killing wild animals, be sure to check with state and local laws, and your local animal wildlife center. Chances are, if it’s legal to kill skunks in your state then it’s definitely legal to trap them, which is a far safer and less smellier option.
Like it or not, there are some people who enjoy the activity of shooting skunks, but the consequences of a misplaced shot resulting in the animal’s death and the release of its infamous scent may negate the purpose of a gun in the first place.
With legal approval, there are traps which result in a lethal conclusion for the skunk upon successful trapping. Again, killing a skunk is messy business, as rupturing its anal glands is a risk added to that of cleaning up its gristly remains.
If poisoning has been cleared by your consulting the law, you can buy skunk-specific poison pellets on the market. Since skunks like to eat anything they can find, sprinkling the poisoned food anywhere it dwells or frequents may work.
Be advised, however, as with all methods of dispatching skunks, poisoning is not recommended because of 1. Humane concerns 2. Inability to pinpoint specific animal (dangers to other animals, pets, or even children) 3. Difficulty of locating corpse to confirm effectiveness.
In conclusion, just because the law allows you to kill skunks, doesn’t mean you should carry through with the action. Trapping and removing or contacting a wildlife professional are far more effective methods to deal with skunks than killing them.
Will Antifreeze Kill Skunks?
Yes, Antifreeze will kill a skunk. However, it is not a good idea to use antifreeze, as it shares the same risks of using any other poison; is considered inhumane and causes extreme pain to the animal before death.
The method is done simply by leaving a bowl of antifreeze in a container such as a dog bowl in the wilderness or near the skunk’s den and waiting for the animal to take a drink from it. However, it’s nearly impossible to confirm that a skunk has taken the bait, or to guarantee that another animal won’t suffer a painful death instead.
How to Get Rid of Skunk Smell?
Once sprayed, the smell of skunk spray can last anywhere from two to three weeks. News flash— the old fashioned remedy of using tomato juice to get rid of the skunk smell is a myth; it doesn’t work. However, the longer you wait, the harder it is to get rid off!
Instead, if you or your pet have become the recipient of a skunk’s ire, the Humane Society of the United States recommend you wash with a mixture of hydrogen peroxide (1 quarts), ¼ a cup of baking soda, and 1-2 teaspoons of liquid dish soap. The mixture may dry your skin, so repeat the process with moisture-replenishing cream in-between.
Suppose that your mother’s dress or a favorite t-shirt that cannot simply be disposed of gets sprayed by a skunk. Soak the affected clothing in a solution of vinegar and water in a ratio of 1 to 4, for several hours. Then rinse the clothes with water, washing in hot water with detergent and half a cup of baking soda. Repeat the rinsing and washing process, then hang the clothes outdoors to dry. Do not use a clothes dryer.
When the victim comes indoors, inevitably he/she or it will bring the smell with them. Placing cups of vinegar around the house or heating a pan of it atop the stovetop can help keep the odor in check.
Do Skunks Provide Any Benefit Whatsoever?
Yes, due to the bulk of skulks’ diet being insects (70%, according to healthyliving.com), skunks contribute their part to balancing the ecosystem through controlling the insect population. They dig up harmful insect larvae and consume plenty of other pest species, and in older times were kept on American farms for that express purpose.
In addition, skunks themselves provide food for the predators which prey upon them (mostly birds of prey who lack a sense of smell and hence any respect for the skunk’s defense mechanism). If they manage to die of old age, unscathed, their body returns nutrients and energy to the soil upon decomposition.
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