When you hear the word “skunk” what comes to mind? STINKY! But there is so much more to know about skunks if you plan on trapping one. A skunk in your yard is a total mood killer, and will ensure damage to your yard, garden, and overall property.
These are the steps for how to trap a skunk:
- Use a large or extra large live cage trap (at least 30 inches long x 12 inches high x 10 inches wide.)
- Set the trap in any of the areas where you’ve seen the skunk eat or rest
- Camouflage the trap, and firmly secure it onto the ground
- Bait the trap with a skunk’s favorite food (you’ll be surprised at what works)
- Once caught, use a large sheet or blanket to cover the top and sides of the cage (to prevent the skunks from spraying you)
- Relocate the animal to a rural area 4 – 10 miles away, or call Animal Control.
Skunks are normally nice animals, until they are provoked.
It’s important to be stealth when trapping a skunk because of their number one defense mechanism: they will spray you! Now before you go all Steve Irwin on the animal, here’s what you need to know about them for a successful capture.
What Is the Best Bait to Trap A Skunk?
The best bait for skunks are oily, meat-based foods. These foods have a strong stench that skunks can’t resist. Take your pick of any of these successful baits!
- Cat Food
- Dog Food
- Cooked Bacon
- Fresh Insect Larvae
- Chicken muscle
Even marshmallows or peanut butter-coated bread will work! All of these foods are to the liking of skunks because of their pungent stench, whether sweet or foul; and you can honestly use as many baits as you’d like. The more the better, actually.
Now let’s set the bait up correctly. The key to a successful capture is placing the bait in the right spot of the cage. Use these tips:
- Entice the skunk by leaving a trail off bait pieces into the trap.
- Place the bait in the back of the cage to fully draw the skunk in
From there, it’s all a waiting game. Also, be sure to place something small and heavy on top of cage, to keep it from being knocked over by the skunk, once it’s caught.
How to Trap A Skunk That’s Under Your House
Skunks enjoy living in structures that have ample space to move around in, which is why they pick the underside of your house, building, or shed to reside. This is a tricky situation simply because the skunk is under the house, which means you have to take that risk of going in there to get it.
A cage is the best option for this endeavor. If you want to know the effective ways of how to get rid of a skunk, the very first thing you should figure out is what lured it there in the first place; because what lured in, will potentially lure it out. If that doesn’t work, try this:
- Use a large one or two-door live trap cage
- Place the cage near areas of high skunk activity (like the entrance of the den, or its food supply)
- Wear gloves to reduce scent transfer
- Place the bottom of the trap firmly into the grass or dirt to maintain stability
- Set the trap in the shade
- Use any of the listed foods above to properly bait the animal into the trap
- Yay, you’ve caught the skunk! Now use a big sheet to cover the top and sides of the cage to prevent any spray attempts from the skunk.
- Relocate it, and the family at least ten miles away, in a rural or forest area, or call Animal Control.
But what if the skunk is deep underneath your structure, the bait didn’t work, and/or you aren’t willing to go that far under your house or shed to get it?
- Install an Exclusion Barrier (Fence)
- Use steel mesh, and stretch it around the entire perimeter of your house or structure
- Place the mesh at least twelve inches underground for efficient capture
- Curl the bottom of the mesh outward (or facing you).
A novice could use this option, but it is usually used by professional trappers. Placing the mesh many inches into the ground prevents the skunk from digging under it; and curling the bottom of the mesh outwards makes it hard for the skunk to use its claws to bring it down.
And if all else fails, simply call your local skunk removal expert, and allow them to finish the job.
How to Trap A Skunk That’s In Your Yard
The difference in solutions between trapping a skunk under your structure, and trapping a skunk in your yard is repellents. Using repellents above ground are highly more effective than using them under. Of course there are other options as well! You can use a cage, or bound it in a spacious fence.
Repellents: Granular, Liquid, or Electronic
- Granular: The pellets can be sprinkled and spread around all of your yard, or just in the areas that you want the skunk to say away from
- Liquid: Liquid repellents are a simple and effective choice. Just spray the liquid on top of the surface of your plants, grass, or crops, to deter the animal from eating them
- Electronic: Protects your yard over a wide range, and tends to be a safer choice than chemical products. They are easily installed by picking a central area in your yard to place it in, and pressing the “on” switch!
Skunks can be quite skittish when it comes to random sounds, which is why an electronic device could do wonders for you. Oh! Let’s not forget about the option of fencing!
Skunks are not skilled climbers; their short legs and thick paws are more designed for digging instead. So this option is highly effective in keeping skunks out of you protected areas.
- The fence should stand at least three-to-four feet above the ground to discourage the skunk from trying to climb it.
- Bury the bottom of the metal or mesh at least one-to-two feet deep so that the skunk cannot dig under it.
- Don’t forget to curl the bottom of the fence outward at an angle, so that the animal cannot dig under it, or claw it down.
Remember to always remove the skunks at least ten miles away once it’s caught. Why? Because that is outside of their smelling distance, which means they will have a slim-to-none chance of finding their way back to your yard or garden.
Are Skunks Smart?
A typical skunk has average intelligence, and is about as smart as a typical dog.
The reason as to why people consider skunks smart is because of their awareness of their eclectic combination of curiosity, playfulness, natural aggression, and its line of defense.
They Are Curious Animals
Their senses, specifically smell and hearing, makes skunks pretty aware of their surroundings, which is what makes them so curious. They use these senses to dig for grub like scorpions and beetles, and listen out for any unlikely predators or prey, which makes them smart.
Because they have a decent amount of awareness, they notice just about anything that moves, just like you and me! Skunks are usually playful and independent animals, and enjoying roaming their grounds, and being active.
They Have A Playful Nature… By Design
I found out an interesting difference in the natural demeanor of skunks:
Yes, skunks nice animals, when they are raised in captivity. Under the watchful eyes of Human beings, skunks are safe and sound, with literally no predators to disturb their peace and fun!
But when a skunk is organically raised within its natural habitats: woodland and forest type areas, it has to defend itself from other animals, predators, and has to actively hunt for food, making them cautiously more assertive than their captive-counterpart.
Because of these factors, natural skunks tend to be smarter than captive ones.
So when skunks are unthreatened and left to themselves, their demeanor can be very docile and fun! And when in survival mode, they are generally more assertive, aggressive and smarter! So take this into consideration when you’re attempting to trap your wild skunk.
Mother nature has blessed skunks with internal armor that no being is immune to. Skunk’s physiology makes them perfect weapons for keeping predators away, and mostly, with their spray.
What makes them intelligent fighters is the fact that they know how and when to use their physical body for defense and protection. Skunks will use their top line of defense, in a very assertive manner, to ward off any animal, or human, that tries to mess with it!
They have short and powerful forearms, from moving massive amounts of dirt around all day, with sharp claws that can cause a solid gash if you are swept by them. And of course, their spray, which is used as both a territorial marker, and a liquid weapon in the mist of any battle.
The fact that they are willing to commit these acts, with total awareness, is another reason as to why they are considered smart. They like to have fun and play, but at their own will and discretion. Once again, remember this information when trying to capture any skunk.
Are Skunks Aggressive?
Contrary to popular belief, skunks are pretty simple animals that like to eat and relax, unless you make them feel threatened, then yes, they can become aggressive. Even too much noise can tip them over the edge.
Skunks enjoy rolling around with each other, and being whimsical, just like any house pet that you may have. But when provoked, or under any pressure of threat, skunks will flip-the-script on you very quickly, and enter into direct attack mode.
There are warning signs before a skunk sprays:
- They raise their front and back legs, and begin to strongly stomp
- They’ll raise their tail in a straight and pointed manner to make themselves look bigger
- Then they charge towards the threat in an aggressive manner
- They’ll then stop, and attempt to make an intimidating noise like a squeal or hiss
If this routine does not make the skunk feel less threatened, it will then turn around, throw its backside at you, and spray is foul liquid solution. And they are capable of shooting it up to fifteen feet! Gross! (This is why the sheet is important while trapping it in the cage.)
By now, you’re probably wondering what to do if sprayed by a skunk. Check this out:
- Keep the affected person outside
- Mix together these ingredients:
- One quart of 3 percent Hydrogen Peroxide
- ¼ th cup of Baking Soda
- 1 teaspoon of liquid dishwashing soap
- Firmly scrub the affected area, with the solution for as long as it takes to neutralize the smell
Be sure to use the solution as soon as you make it. Why? Because it could potentially explode if left in an enclosed container for too long.
When searching for and trapping the skunk, take precautions when approaching it, or setting the traps. Although non-lethal, facing the wrath of an angry skunk sounds absolutely nerve-wrecking.
What Are Skunks Afraid Of?
Skunks will scurry away when they experience three factors: bright lights, specific odors, and predators!
Skunks are nocturnal animals, meaning they love to be in the dark. Most of the time, the earliest that a skunk will come out of its living quarters is around dusk, and can play and forage for food throughout the night until dawn.
So having a big, bright, shiny light in your yard, or under your structure is an amazing, and affordable option to scaring the skunk away from your property.
A skunk that has problems with odors?! How ironic, but it’s true. There are specific smells that skunks hate, simply because it irritates their nose, thus, disturbing their sense of smell. When they are around these aromas, they can become confused, and end up leaving the area.
Check out this cool list.
- Predator Urine
Soaking the mothballs in ammonia, and placing them randomly around your yard or structure has a higher chance of keeping the skunks off of your premises, but keep it away from children!
Predator urine, in my opinion, is the best natural odor that could work, simply because the skunk is already familiar with this disturbing and strong scent; try a dog, or fox, or even your own! The question is, how will you obtain predator urine??
I’ll leave you and your imagination to figure that one out.
What Is A Deterrent For Skunks?
Skunks have many deterrents what will keep it away from your home. Most of them are natural, and some can be made in your very home. These items are said to make the skunk both leave your property, and keep them off of it. Let’s take a look:
Remove Their Food Source
Skunks are known to eat just about anything that’s edible. Most of the food that they eat are food that us Humans don’t think twice about. Taking away their feast is an easy way to deter any skunk.
Most food that most skunks indulge in are bird eggs, garbage component (fruits, vegetables, small meats, etc,) berries, organic compost, bird feed, and some bugs. Most of the time, when a skunk is invading your yard, it’s probably because you have an abundance of food that they enjoy!
So, my suggestion is to remove their food source first, then add more deterrents.
A barricade is a simple border that will keep the skunks out of your yard or garden. An example of a barricade includes a border, either wooden or metal; anything strong enough to not let the skunk through.
Skunks are known to be horrible climbers, so a barricade could be your best bet, depending on what you are protecting. Warning: If you do use a barricade, make sure that it’s at least three-to-four feet high, and at least one foot deep, because if the skunk can’t go over, it will go under.
Like I said, some repellents can be made right in your home, specifically the kitchen. Time to hit the spice rack! Pepper is a natural remedy that, when placed properly, will irritate the skunk’s sense of smell, and make it flee in a different direction. Let us know if any of these remedies work for you!
- Cayenne Pepper: Sprinkle a decent amount near the entrance of their den.
Because of its spicy nature, it has a tendency to annoy the skunks nose, (it’s primary sense) just like it would a Human being. If you live in a rainy area, this remedy must be reapplied after any rainfall
- Citrus Peel: Grind or finely shred the peel of any citrus fruit (lemon, orange, lime) and sprinkle it near the skunk’s den. The beautiful part about this option is that citrus peel will last until it naturally decomposes, meaning that you won’t have to reapply it very often.
- Hot Pepper Spray: This is the stuff that women and police officers carry. It’s a strong mixture of many peppers such as chili, cayenne, jalapeno; you can even amp it up with some onion! Once concocted, spray the solution near the entrance of the den. The smell alone will make them scurry away.
Helpful tip: Use these spiced sprays when the skunk is outside of the den. If you spray it while it’s gone, it will be extremely challenging for them to go back into their hole; and if you spray while they’re in there, then they won’t come out. So spray at night, when you know the skunk is out foraging.
Do Skunks Come Out During The Day?
Not necessarily. Skunks, by nature, are nocturnal creatures, and they tend to enjoy their 12 – 15 hours of sleep. However, they have been known to come out of their den during the day for one, or more of the following reasons:
- There is a valuable food source that is available during the day
- They were scared out of their normal sleeping spot, and have to find another one
- There is major competition for dens, and the skunk lost
There is a common misconception about daylight roaming for skunks: that they only come out during the day if they are carrying a disease like Rabies. This could be true, but to be on the safe side, let’s presume that it is a normal skunk, and not approach it at all.
Why Do Skunks Spray At Night?
Skunks spray at night mainly for two reasons:
- They were in a battle and had to fend off a predator
- They are marking their territory
Once again, skunks are primarily nocturnal, so this is most likely the only time you will smell a skunk’s odor. When fighting a predator, as we talked about earlier, it will stomp its feet, run towards it, and spray with no regret.
They also protect their earthly homes by spraying around their den entrance to mark their territory, and you better believe it works!
No matter how big or bad, that pungent smell would repel anyone from approaching! If a skunk sprays at night while you’re trying to trap it, be sure to cover your nose with a scented cloth…a very scented cloth, to keep from being overwhelmed by their disgusting aroma.
Remember these helpful tips when attempting to get rid of your skunk problem:
- Find the source that attracted the skunk is there in the first place
- Use a large live trap cage
- Use the suggested bait to leave a trail leading to the back of the cage
- Cover the cage with a large blanket or sheet to prevent being sprayed once it’s captured
- Relocate the skunk at least three to four miles away from your home so it can’t find its way back
- If you notice the aggression signs leading to the skunk attacking, walk away slowly, and try again later
- If all else fails, call Animal Control for a professional and safe capture-and-release
Will these tips work well for you? Of course! Follow them accordingly, and you will be able to trap your skunk, and continue to live your life in sweet victory!
Mike Zhang. Founder of FamilyLifeShare