- Have you noticed any weird noises coming from underneath your deck or shed at night? Or maybe you’ve seen skunks living on your property or around your yard?
- Skunk infestation can be pretty dramatic, even though these wild animals look cute in the pictures. Most skunks build burrows and tunnels under sheds, decks, buildings, and concrete foundations. These burrows threaten the buildings’ structural integrity.
- Luckily, with several proven methods, it’s not a lost cause. Keep reading to discover how to prepare an effective treatment with pepper sprays, ammonia-soaked rags, citrus peels, and others.
Skunks may look cute, but we prefer to avoid these animals in our gardens and propriety anyway.
Why is it so?
- spend time around our garbage cans and rip off garbage bags in search of food,
- dig holes in the garden, and
- live underneath a shed, deck, or porch of houses compromising its structure.
However, some sources, for example, Skedaddle Wildlife, claim that skunks don’t pose a threat to your home or lawn.
According to them, skunks snack on other wild creatures that are more likely to threaten your house’s wellbeing.
If we believe this opinion, the best way of dealing with the issue is to manage the skunk population to keep numbers down.
If the creatures are healthy, a skunk or two in your area can benefit your lawn by helping you to keep populations of critters that destroy property at bay.
Cons of having skunks on your property
So apparently, a few healthy skunks can be helpful, but how to know they’re not infected with rabies?
In the “furious” form of rabies, wild animals appear agitated, drool, and bite or snap at imaginary and real objects. On the other hand, they may appear tame in the “dumb” form and have no fear of humans.
Skunks and other wild creatures affected with rabies virus can also appear drunk, be excessively wobbly, circling, partially paralyzed, acting disorientated, or mutilating themselves (these signs can also indicate distemper or lead poisoning). Read more on Humane Society.
All in all, there’s one smart way to tell if there’s rabies involved.
Raccoons and skunks are typically nocturnal animals. However, if you notice them active during the day and behaving strangely, seek advice from your local wildlife department, local wildlife control, wildlife removal service, animal organization, wildlife rehabilitator, or state wildlife agency immediately.
Important: Although any warm-blooded mammal can carry or contract rabies, skunks and other animals, such as raccoons, bats, foxes, and coyotes, are the primary carriers in North America. Skunk carrying rabies is common in the north- and south-central states and the East.
Every child knows that when a skunk feels threatened, it lifts its tail and sprays a smelly liquid at its enemy. The range of this liquid attack is up to six meters!
This noxious spray creates intense burning sensations in the eyes, nose, and mouth and makes eyes tear up. However, it’s not poisonous. It won’t kill you or your pets, but a direct hit to the eyes has been known to cause temporary blindness. The spray can cause
- nausea and vomiting,
- watery eyes and
Skunks first stomp their feet when feeling threatened and unable to run away! At this point, you should step aside not to experience their pungent noxious spray.
Then comes their famous handstand: standing on the forelegs, with tail elevated, and back toward the potential attacker, they show off the black and white warning coloration.
Only in the final phase, the skunk may squirt out its anxious spray from two glands near the anus.
This oily spray contains sulfur-based organic compounds (thiols or mercaptans) that stink and sting.
In general, skunks are nocturnal, harmless creatures who forage for food while most animals and humans sleep. They aren’t aggressive and have no intention of harming humans unless they feel threatened.
If they feel they’re trapped, they will answer with fire!
Skunks are known for the very unpleasant smell they spray at the enemy when they’re faced with danger. Skunk scent is hard to remove from the human body or clothes.
Skunks perceive humans as their biggest threat, so they will spray if we confront them.
These adorable creatures have even more unpleasant habits.
Skunks tend to dig holes and up-end plants in your garden. They’re also known to turn up sod in yards.
Skunks are scavengers—they’ll eat anything nutritious they can find.
Skunks turn up sod in yards looking for white grubs, leaving cone-shaped, 7-10 cm wide holes in the ground of your garden.
How to repel skunks when they start to peek at your beloved yard or deck?
Skunks are pesky, and they know it. That’s why our co-living in urban areas (let’s put it clearly: our houses) is a constant battle between humane and wildlife.
And since we aren’t going anywhere and want to get the yard and decks of our houses back for our sole use, we need to act.
In the next paragraph, we’ll learn how to take control of our properties and get rid of skunks.
Finally, garbage cans. Skunks love them, and there’s little we can do about their preference.
We can only find ways to repel skunks from our trash bins.
Skunks’ favorite activity is tearing apart garbage bags and knocking over bins.
They don’t do it for fun, though. Instead, they’re working on finding food.
Skunks will eat anything, from insects to worms, eggs, fruit, nuts. For example, if this animal wanders into a neighborhood and finds a bird feeder, it will eat seed fallen on the ground.
Don’t be surprised if they stick around your yard for some time. Human trash is a source of full-fledged nourishment for them.
Why is skunk living in your house, anyway?
Skunks inhabit cavities under our decks and sheds of our house to raise their animal children.
It’s natural for them to look for shelter in a particular part of the year. Their search for a safe place isn’t directed against us.
When skunk youngsters are old enough to survive by themselves, they leave a property in peace.
In other words, your house is a maternity hospital and hotel.
Skunk toddlers take about eight weeks to leave their den.
You can fight with them or simply wait for some time.
When the little skunks are old enough to leave, seal their entry hole with hardware cloth.
It will keep them from coming back in the new generation of skunks.
Another reason skunks dig burrows is to live there in semi-hibernation during the winter months.
Pros of having skunks on your property
But it’s not all bad.
There is one reason having skunks around can benefit us.
70% of skunks diet comprises:
- insects, and
- small rodents;
and they happen to be a nuisance to us as well!
Get rid of skunks
First off, prevention.
It’s essential not to let skunks know that they can use your deck or garden to their benefit.
Decks should be constructed so that their footings block wildlife and make it hard to dig beneath them.
You can install galvanized wire mesh in a trench around your shed to make it unappealing for skunks to dig a den there.
Prevention is the best thing you can do when dealing with skunks.
Don’t be cruel to them. Avoid trapping, aggressively relocating, or installing smart doors that trap them and keep them away from their den entrance.
Focus on keeping skunks away from your property without forcing them to sacrifice their life or health.
We understand they probably got on your nerves enough already, but mind also the general animal control rules and laws for wildlife removal.
We don’t recommend trapping adult skunks because their starving children are likely left behind.
Also, if you try to trap them, you expose yourself to getting sprayed and possibly bitten.
Trapping and relocating are terrible ideas because skunks will likely not survive the shock of being removed from their home environment.
In some states (like Ontario), it’s illegal to move wildlife more than 1 km from where you found it.
Some people choose to install the one-way door to the skunk’s den so that the skunk can get out but not get back in.
Just imagine the drama if that would happen to you when your children are in.
The one-way door will exclude a mother skunk and leave baby skunks trapped inside. Then, if they aren’t old enough to change the place by themselves, they will simply starve to death.
However, this idea is good for the fall. Before the winter comes, the ground is still thawed enough for a skunk to dig a new den. From December, they may not be able to find or dig a new shelter anymore.
So what are the things we can do to deter skunks from our property?
Wait for the skunks to leave
Waiting for these pesky animals to leave your property is the easiest and most empathetic way to get rid of skunks, which, however, will require some patience.
Skunks will leave as part of their natural life cycle after they’ve nurtured their babies.
So if you wait, your skunk problem will disappear without any effort.
Bright light remove skunks because they’re scared of it.
Keeping your yard full of bright light is also great to prevent skunks from making their den under your deck.
All in all, with bright lights, you can
- remove skunks and
- prevent skunks;
Simply leave your exterior lights in the garden on, or install motion light sensors;
Here’s another soft method that deters skunks.
Put a radio on the floor and turn it on.
It sounds like a way to get rid of your grandpa from the house, but it actually works wonders with skunks as well.
When you turn your radio on, point the speaker toward the ground.
Skunks avoid loud noises.
Try getting rid of the skunk problem with chemical repellents.
Also, the harsh smell of ammonia or moth balls is effective to get rid of skunks. You can prepare, for example, ammonia-soaked rags.
How to prepare them?
Soak a couple of rags in apple cider vinegar or ammonia—they both are natural repellents.
Put them in a plastic bag around the perimeter of the skunk living area or underneath their den. Poke holes in the bag to enhance the nasty smell. Hang the bag next to the entrance of their place in your house.
Tip: Do it in daylight while the skunks are asleep. When they wake up for the night activity, it will help you get rid of them. Repeat for ten days to make them understand the message.
Spray repellents are a pretty invasive way to get rid of skunks, but hey! It’s your house, not theirs.
To deter skunks, you can also spray repellents that remind of skunks’ predator urine around your shed or deck. It’s a natural (well, almost natural) way of showing them you own the place.
Instead of chemical repellents, you can use dog urine, however, upgrading to coyote urine might be even more effective. These liquids smell like a predator’s urine. Mother skunk doesn’t feel safe when this smell is around, so she may leave.
Most animals dislike the smell of citrus fruits. So place citrus peels around the yard as a natural skunk repellent.
Tip: These substances don’t offer a permanent solution and have to be reapplied as the smell of the chemicals fades. Some repellents could pose a threat to children and pets.
To make a DIY repellent, boil a chopped onion, a chopped jalapeno, and one tablespoon of cayenne pepper in two quarts of water for about 20 minutes. Then, strain the liquid into a spray bottle and squirt plants to make skunks steer clear. Remember to reapply the substance. Each dose lasts up to five days.
If a skunk is feeding in your garden, apply pepper spray repellent.
Important: There’re also poisonous chemical repellents that kill skunks, such as Anticoagulants like Warfarin, Strychnine, Antifreeze (Ethylene glycol), Bromethalin (rat poison), and Cholecalciferol. It’s illegal to poison skunks. So don’t use these cruel methods to get rid of skunks from your possession.
Remove food sources
Your yard and trash can provide “your” skunks with natural food sources, i.e., a steady supply of food, such as fruits or piles of grass clippings containing stray seeds.
So cut them off!
1. If you have trees in the garden that produce nuts or berries:
- clean the area regularly to ensure they get no more food,
- use a rake to get rid of all the fallen berries or fruits,
- pack them up in a sealed bag before you throw them in the garbage bin;
2. Clippings of grass need to be discarded regularly. Otherwise, skunks will eat seeds with pleasure. Discard grass clippings to eliminate one source of food.
3. In gardens with vegetables and fruits, harvest the ripe ones from the ground as quickly as possible.
4. Put up bird feeders at elevated heights. These pesky animals won’t climb up to tear down the birds’ nest, but they will eat seeds dropped on the ground. So place a tray underneath the bird feeder and clean dropped seeds often.
5. Remove the cat food that you keep outside. Don’t let pet food (like cat food) become pest food. Instead, feed your pets indoors and clean up leftovers quickly.
A foul smell is a skunk’s only defense. Cats and dogs that get on skunks’ nerves will come home with an unbearable smell.
Get rid of the insects
If skunks stay, they’ll take care of pest control. If you get rid of them, you’ll have to set traps on insects by yourself.
Skunks feed off the insects in your garden and house—that’s one beneficial aspect of having them around. In other words, pest control is in their hands if they’re living in your garden.
If you choose to get rid of skunks anyway, cut the tall grass to eliminate skunks’ natural food sources—insects and wildlife living in your garden.
Cover your trash bin
Cover trash cans with lids that fit tight.
Ensure that your garbage cans are secure and all the trash is inside a plastic bag. Guarantee that trash bins can’t be easily tipped over.
Getting rid of skunks means cutting them off from food sources.
Don’t leave kitchen scraps in your compost or keep it well-covered.
Block the entrance to the skunk den
You can lock the access hole to the den using
- chicken wire,
- sheet metal, etc.
Important: Don’t use this method in the summer when you know their children are left alone inside—they’ll starve to death without their mum.
Install a fence and an underground wire mesh fence
If “your” skunks have seriously got on your nerves this year, get rid of the slightest possibility of having them on board again.
First, make sure any animals already living under the shed or deck have left.
1. Dig a 12”x12” trench around the shed or deck.
2. Secure a piece of ¼” wire mesh along the bottom of the hole.
3. Angle the mesh straight down into the ground for 8”-12.”
4. Bend the mesh outward (away from the shed walls) at a 90-degree angle to create an “L” shape.
5. Refill the trench.
These creatures aren’t good at climbing or jumping. With a three-foot fence, you’re likely to get free from them fast, but be sure to go deep as well. They can dig well and burrow under a shallow barrier.
They are a size of a house cat, but boy, can they squeeze! Ensure your fence has a tight, 4 inches wide hole set.
Cage: Capture a skunk outside its den
It is also possible to capture a skunk when it’s outside its den into a special cage.
It has to be low enough to keep it from lifting its tail once trapped.
After you catch a skunk, transport it far away from your property.
You can rent such a cage from pest control specialists.