Do you think your home may have a skunk problem? It is more likely you will smell a skunk before you ever see one. Skunks can be easily identified by their black and white striping can easily identify skunks and their sprays stench. Did you know their spray can cause intense pain if it gets into a creature's eyes? Fortunately, these mild-mannered creatures rarely use this defense and even provide many benefits to the places they call home. In cases where removal is necessary, here are a few techniques that can help humanely remove skunks while remaining stink-free.
If you find small, shallow holes in your lawn, it may be a sign a skunk is foraging for food. You may even find they knocked over plants or damage to your garden. Persistent, musky smells under your home or around your property may suggest that a skunk has made your house their home. Occasional skunk sightings are not a cause for concern. Skunks are generally easy-going. In fact, humans may benefit from them because they eat many insects and rodents seen as pests.
Skunks use their powerful defense to protect themselves or their young. They give ample warning that everyone should pay attention to. These signs include stamping their front feet, raising their tail, hissing, and twisting of their hind end around in your direction.
Protecting Your Yard
Skunks are opportunists. They are attracted to easy food offerings like garbage and pet food left out. For dens, they look for convenient sites, such as woodpiles, porches, and crawl spaces. To help keep these critters away, begin by removing attractants around your house. This includes securing trash, covering window wells, and feeding your pets inside.
Exclusion techniques should be used to prevent denning. Any suspected den should be checked first to make sure no one is home. To do this safely, try filling the suspected hole with straw, leaves, or soil. If a skunk lives there, it will easily push it's way out overnight. If the makeshift plug is undisturbed for two to three nights, it is safe to assume the hole is unoccupied and can be filled. In the colder months, skunks remain inactive for longer periods of time, so provide them with a little extra time before blocking the hole for good.
If a skunk is using your home as a den, either harassment or using a one-way door system is recommended. Before evicting the skunk, make sure they do not have young in the potential den. If you are unsure, assume there are young and use the door system only after you confirm they are following their mother to forage. Leave the door in place for a week to be sure the skunk has left. When it is safe to displace the skunk, mild harassment can be quite successful. Mild harassment is as simple as loosely repacking their den hole with leaves or straw to encourage them to find a different home. If they don't get the hint, try adding light and noise devices to make any dark and quiet space unattractive. For your safety, make sure the skunk has left for the night before setting up the disturbances.
Public Health Concerns
Did you know that skunks are one of four wild animals considered to be a primary carrier of the rabies virus and are classified as a rabies vector species? If you see a skunk showing these abnormal behaviors:
- Limb paralysis.
- Boldness or unprovoked aggression.
- Disorientation, staggering.
- Uncharacteristic tameness.
Don't approach the skunk. Quickly call your local animal control officer for assistance.