Want to know how to get rid of skunks? Before we go further, let’s get to know more about them…
Skunks Give Benefits Too!
First of all, despite the fact the skunks can be annoying, they actually give many benefits to us. Among these benefits are their habits of eating insects and rodents. They actually help us ‘control’ the number of grasshoppers, beetles and crickets, since these are their favorite food, especially during spring and summer. During winter, they are ready to help you ‘control’ the number of field and house mice.
Two Common Types of Skunks in the U.S. and Canada
There are two types of skunks commonly found in the U.S. and Canada:
- Striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis)
- Spotted skunk (Spilogale putorius)
They can discharge stomach-turning musk, which actually comes from their anal glands, and they can do this several times.
They like dwelling in clearings, meadows, and open lands which are next to forests. On grasslands, skunks like to hide in the groves, and woods along rivers. They use hollow logs and limbs to build dens.
Skunks are nocturnal, sluggish, calculated, and show great poise when they encounter enemies, or sense a threat.
Skunks can be annoying when their eating and snuggling habits are at odds with you and your family. A friend once asked me, “Hey Ed, how do you get rid of skunks under deck?” Yes, skunks can find foundation openings and snuggle under your deck or building!
Sometimes skunks mess with the garbage outside of your house, sometimes they dig holes – of course it won’t be a problem if they do this in the forest, but what if they dig holes in your beautiful garden, or perhaps in a golf course?
If you raise chickens, skunks can be a threat and attack your chicken coop. They are usually after the eggs though, not the hen.
Many people confuse a skunk’s attack with the one from other animals such as raccoons, weasles, mink, rats or dogs. Make sure you are certain that it’s really skunks that disturb you, before continuing to prevention steps.
How to Get Rid of a Skunk
Because skunks are one of the leading carriers of rabies in most states, your effort in getting rid of skunks -more often than not- will be supported by your city or county health departments. They might even help by providing you with trappers.
6 Ways to Get Rid of Skunks
1. Keeping Out
You can keep skunks out of your property with several efforts:
- Seal off all foundation openings. You can use concrete, sheet metal, or even wire mesh
- Bury your fences 1-2 feet deep, so skunks cannot dig underneath them
- If you raise chickens, it’s better to build a poultry building which you can close at night. Or, if you still want to keep them in yards or coops, make sure you use a 3-foot wire mesh fencing, with the lowest part (about 1 foot) buried. To make it even stronger, you can bend the 6-inches bottom part outward from the yard
- Protect wells and pits using wire mesh
- If you have beehives, then place them on stands. 3-feet high stands will be enough, because skunks can’t climb
- Protect your garbage cans with tight-fitting lids
2. Make Your House Less Attractive to Skunks
- Manage your garbage and food source smartly, so skunk won’t be invited
- Check certain places in your house that might keep rodents. Because rodents might invite skunks, you might want to control them first
- Look for certain spots that might be used by skunks as their dens. Clean these spots
3. Scare the Skunks Out of Your Yard
You can scare skunks using light and sounds. Although this only works temporary, but you might find it useful for immediate results
4. Use Repellents
If you are looking for registered repellents, forget it. There’s no such things for skunks. But you can utilize moth balls or moth flakes in a large amount. Put them in closed areas that might attract skunks, and replace them when necessary. You can also use cloths soaked with ammonia for this purpose. However, repellents can only show temporary results.
5. Use Fumigants
There are two types of registered fumigants. Using the toxic gases, you can suffocate the skunks under your deck, or wherever they snuggle. Please follow the instructions carefully.
6. Use Traps
There are two common types of traps for skunks:
- Box traps
- Leghold traps
Before you use each of these traps, I suggest you consult your state wildlife agency first. If you still want to create your own trap, then go for the Box-Trap type, because it’s very simple. You can set the traps near the entrance of the dens, and use cat food to entice the skunks. Fish-flavored food is very effective for this.
Be careful handling the trapped skunks, as they can discharge the stomach-turning musk. That’s why traps are better used at places rather far from your house. You can also cover the trap with canvas to minimize the risk.
What to do with the trapped skunks? You can release them somewhere far from your residential area (at least 10 miles away), or you can kill them.
How to Get Rid of Skunks Under Deck
To get rid of skunks under your deck -or under buildings- you can follow these steps:
- Look around and find all possible entrances
- Seal those entrances, and leave open the main entrance where the burrow is located
- Use flour and spread it on the ground, just in front of the opening. Create a circle with the flour, about 2 feet in diameter
- Wait and see. After dark, observe the flour for tracks. If you find tracks of skunks, that means they have left to find food. If you don’t find tracks, wait again and recheck for every hour
- When you are certain that the skunks have left, temporarily seal the entrance as soon as possible
- To make sure all skunks have left the den, re-open the seal on the day after. Wait until dark, and open it for about an hour
- Seal the entrance permanently when you are sure there’s no skunk left in the den
- It’s better to do this between September and June, so you can be sure that there are no skunk babies trapped inside after you seal the entrance permanently