Prepared by the National Wildlife Control Training Program. http://WildlifeControlTraining.com
Research-based, certified wildlife control training programs to solve human – wildlife conflicts.
Your source for animal handling, control methods, and wildlife species information.
For information on the NWCOA Certified Professional version of this document, click here.
- Demonstrate the ability to educate clients about management options.
- Identify the risks involved in working with skunks.
- Describe options for controlling odor.
The odor of skunk spray (musk) is pungent, nauseating, and can cause severe reactions in some people. Skunks may kill poultry and eat eggs. Skunks damage turf when digging for grubs and other soil-born insects. They may also carry rabies.
Striped skunks are not protected by law in some states. However, they are protected furbearers or non-game species in others. Check with state wildlife officials before removing any skunks.
Striped skunks (Mephitis mephitis) are members of the weasel family. Most are black with white stripes the length of the body (Figure 1), and are easily recognized by most people. However, coat color is quite variable, and skunks may range from nearly all black, to all white.
Striped skunks have short, stocky legs and feet equipped with well-developed claws that enable them to dig well. Skunks can discharge a nauseating musk from their anal glands and are capable of several discharges up to 10 feet.
Striped skunks are about the size of an ordinary house cat, up to 29 inches long and weighing about 8 pounds.
Striped skunks are common throughout the northeastern US in both rural and suburban areas.
Health and Safety Concerns
Striped skunks are carriers of rabies. Any skunk showing abnormal behavior, such as daytime activity, may be rabid and should be treated with caution. Clients should report skunks that are behaving abnormally to the local police department or animal control office. If bitten or scratched by a skunk, contact your local health department, and promptly seek medical advice. Have the skunk tested for rabies if possible.
Skunks usually provide a warning before discharging their scent by stamping their forefeet rapidly, and arching their tails over their backs. Anyone observing such a threat should retreat quietly and slowly. Avoid making loud noises and quick, aggressive actions. Skunk spray is not known to contain the rabies virus.
Adult skunks begin breeding in late January. Gestation usually is 7 to 10 weeks, and litters commonly consist of 4 to 6 young. Young stay with the female until fall. Both sexes mature by the following spring. Skunk can live up to 10 years, but few live beyond 3 years in the wild.
During the breeding season, a male may travel 4 to 5 miles each night. A female that does not wish to mate with a particular male will typically spray him.
Skunks prefer to den under logs, in brush piles, and in abandoned woodchuck holes. They also den under decks, porches, crawl-spaces, and other secluded areas.
Skunks may be dormant for about a month or 2 during the coldest part of winter. They may den together in winter for warmth, but generally are not sociable. They are nocturnal, slow-moving, deliberate, and have great confidence in defending themselves against other animals.
Skunks inhabit clearings, pastures, and open lands bordering forests. Often, skunks inhabit wooded urban areas
Insects are the preferred food of skunks. Grasshoppers, beetles, and crickets are the adult insects most often taken. Skunks dig in lawns for grubs and other insect larvae. Mice are a regular and important item in the diet of skunks, particularly in winter. Rats, cottontail rabbits, and other small mammals are taken when other food is scarce.
Voice, Sounds, Tracks, and Signs
Skunks make noises ranging from screeches and whimpers to chirps. They stomp their front feet in a thump-thump combination when agitated.
Tracks of the hind feet of striped skunks are approximately 2½ inches long (Figure 2). Both the hind and forefeet of skunks have 5 toes. In some cases, the fifth toe may not be obvious. Claw marks usually are visible.
Droppings of skunks often can be identified by the undigested insect parts they contain. Droppings are ¼ to ½ inch in diameter, and 1 to 2 inches long.
The musk of skunks can be detected for up to a mile away, but odor is not always a reliable indicator of the presence or absence of skunks. Opossums also emit a skunk-like odor, and any sprayed animal can carry the odor long distances.
Damage to Landscapes
Skunks dig holes in lawns, golf courses, and gardens to search for insect grubs found in the soil. Digging normally appears as small, 3- to 4- inch, cone-shaped holes or patches of upturned earth (Figure 3). Several other animals, including raccoons and domestic dogs, also may dig in lawns.
Damage to Crops and Livestock
Skunks occasionally feed on corn, eating only the lower ears. If a cornstalk is knocked over, raccoons are more likely the cause of damage. Damage to the upper ears of corn often is indicative of birds, deer, or squirrels.
Rabid skunks bite and can transmit rabies to cattle, horses, dogs, and other domestic animals, which can in turn transmit rabies to humans.
Skunks occasionally kill poultry and eat eggs. They normally do not climb fences to get to poultry. Rats, weasels, mink, and raccoons regularly climb fences. If skunks gain access, they normally feed on eggs, and occasionally kill fowl. Eggs usually are opened on one end with the edges crushed inward. Weasels, mink, dogs, and raccoons usually kill several chickens or ducks at a time. Dogs often severely mutilate poultry.
Damage to Structures
Damage to structures by skunks is usually due to sprayed musk. Odor can penetrate and linger in cloth furniture, clothing, and carpets. Skunk odor can contaminate items several floors away from the original source.
Remove garbage, debris, and lumber piles to reduce attractiveness of an area to skunks. Skunks prefer cover, and debris-filled areas provide excellent hunting grounds. Properly dispose of garbage or other food sources that will attract skunks. Skunks are often attracted to rodents living in barns, crawl spaces, sheds, and garages. Control programs for rodents may be necessary to reduce the attraction.
Seal all ground-level openings to poultry buildings and close doors at night. Enclose poultry yards and coops that lack subsurface foundations with 3-foot, wire-mesh fencing buried a few inches below ground (Figure 4). Skunks can be excluded from window wells or similar pits with mesh fences or window well covers. Use tight-fitting lids on garbage cans.
Keep skunks from denning under buildings by sealing all foundation openings. Cover all openings with wire mesh, sheet metal, or concrete. Where skunks can gain access by digging, bury ¼-inch mesh fences 2 inches below the ground, and extend the mesh out perpendicular from the location being protected at least 12 inches (Figure 4).
Skunks can be excluded from a structure using a one-way door (Figure 5). Secure the perimeter of a deck or shed with trench screen. Install a one-way door (minimum size 4 x 4 inches), over the entrance so that skunks can easily exit. Return after several days of good weather to evaluate the location. When confident the skunks are gone, remove the one-way door and secure the opening.
No frightening devices are effective on skunks.
No repellents are registered for use on skunks.
Gas cartridges are registered for fumigating skunk burrows. Follow label directions and take care to avoid fire hazards and exposing non-target animals, especially when used near structures. Light and hold the gas cartridge until it ignites before placing it deep in a burrow. Seal openings of the burrow with soil to secure the fumigant in the burrow.
Shooting is effective, but will likely result in the skunk emitting odor. If odor is not a problem, use a .22-caliber rifle, or shotgun with No. 6 shot.
Skunks can be captured with cage or box traps located in areas where skunks are active. Because of the potential for skunks to spray, or transmit rabies, it probably is best to hire a wildlife control professional to trap skunks.
Sometimes skunks must be captured directly, without the use of traps because the urgency of the situation demands immediate action. Again, contact a wildlife control professional.
Skunks occasionally spray structures, pets, and people. Avoid touching sprayed surfaces with bare hands. Keep sprayed animals outdoors and wash them before handling. Deodorize a sprayed surface, skin, or hair by applying a mixture of ¼ cup baking soda, 1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide, 1 teaspoon of dish soap, and 1 gallon of water. Rinse with water. Avoid getting the mixture in eyes.
If a skunk is suspected of being rabid, it should be humanely killed, while avoiding a shot to the head. Call your local health department and follow instructions for submitting the skunk for testing.
Pet owners must, by law, protect their animals through timely vaccinations against rabies. Owners of livestock in areas with rabies outbreaks also should consider pre-exposure vaccinations. Owners should consult a veterinarian about further treatment for pets and livestock potentially exposed to rabid animals. For human exposures, consult a physician and local health department about post-exposure rabies vaccination.
When rescuing skunks from window wells and garages, on-site release is the preferred option. Be sure the client and neighbors keep their doors closed, pets restrained, and children away from the area. Release the skunk in an out-of-the-way area with ground cover. If possible, release the skunk close to nightfall.
Translocation of skunks is not advised because they may transmit rabies. In some situations, translocation may be restricted, so check state and local regulations.
Carbon dioxide is the preferred euthanasia method for skunks. Skunks are tolerant to CO2, so it may take up to 20 minutes an animal to die. Observe the chest for motion for at least 3 minutes to ensure that breathing has stopped. Skunks have been known to spray during asphyxiation. Often, their sphincters loosen, allowing for some fluid release.
Where odor issues are not a priority, use a .22-caliber firearm, where allowed and safe. The shot usually is directed to the head, unless rabies testing is required. Some professionals use low-power ammunition such as .22-caliber “CB caps” or “short” rounds. An extremely intense spraying is almost always associated with the shot. Other methods may be preferable. Follow firearm safety instructions at all times, and take a certified firearm safety course before attempting to shoot. Shooting is best left to someone with experience, and is usually limited to rural areas.
Government or private agencies, universities, extension service
Skunk, NWCO, wildlife control, wildlife damage management
Common name of mammals in the family Mephitidae
For other uses, see Skunk (disambiguation).
Not to be confused with Polecat.
Skunks are mammals in the family Mephitidae. They are known for their ability to spray a liquid with a strong, unpleasant scent from their anal glands. Different species of skunk vary in appearance from black-and-white to brown, cream or ginger colored, but all have warning coloration.
While related to polecats and other members of the weasel family, skunks have as their closest relatives the Old World stink badgers.
The word "skunk" is dated from the 1630s, adapted from a southern New England Algonquian language (probably Abenaki) seganku, from Proto-Algonquian */šeka:kwa/, from */šek-/ 'to urinate' + */-a:kw/ 'fox'.
"Skunk" has historic use as an insult, attested from 1841. The term has also been used to describe the act of overwhelmingly defeating an opponent in a game or competition, particularly by preventing the said opponent from scoring at all.
"Skunk" is also used to refer to certain strong-smelling strains of marijuana whose smell has been compared to that of a skunk's spray.
In Southern United States dialect, the term polecat is sometimes used as a colloquial nickname for a skunk, even though polecats are only distantly related to skunks.
History of European awareness
In 1634, a skunk was described in The Jesuit Relations:
The other is a low animal, about the size of a little dog or cat. I mention it here, not on account of its excellence, but to make of it a symbol of sin. I have seen three or four of them. It has black fur, quite beautiful and shining; and has upon its back two perfectly white stripes, which join near the neck and tail, making an oval that adds greatly to their grace. The tail is bushy and well furnished with hair, like the tail of a Fox; it carries it curled back like that of a Squirrel. It is more white than black; and, at the first glance, you would say, especially when it walks, that it ought to be called Jupiter's little dog. But it is so stinking and casts so foul an odor, that it is unworthy of being called the dog of Pluto. No sewer ever smelled so bad. I would not have believed it if I had not smelled it myself. Your heart almost fails you when you approach the animal; two have been killed in our court, and several days afterward there was such a dreadful odor throughout our house that we could not endure it. I believe the sin smelled by Saint Catherine de Sienne must have had the same vile odor.
Skunk species vary in size from about 15.6 to 37 in (40 to 94 cm) long and in weight from about 1.1 lb (0.50 kg) (spotted skunks) to 18 lb (8.2 kg) (hog-nosed skunks). They have moderately elongated bodies with relatively short, well-muscled legs and long front claws for digging. They have five toes on each foot.
Although the most common fur color is black and white, some skunks are brown or grey and a few are cream-colored. All skunks are striped, even from birth. They may have a single thick stripe across the back and tail, two thinner stripes, or a series of white spots and broken stripes (in the case of the spotted skunk).
Skunks are omnivorous, eating both plant and animal material and changing their diets as the seasons change. They eat insects, larvae, earthworms, grubs, rodents, lizards, salamanders, frogs, snakes, birds, moles, and eggs. They also commonly eat berries, roots, leaves, grasses, fungi and nuts.
In settled areas, skunks also seek garbage left by humans. Less often, skunks may be found acting as scavengers, eating bird and rodent carcasses left by cats or other animals. Pet owners, particularly those of cats, may experience a skunk finding its way into a garage or basement where pet food is kept. Skunks commonly dig holes in lawns in search of grubs and worms.
Skunks are one of the primary predators of the honeybee, relying on their thick fur to protect them from stings. The skunk scratches at the front of the beehive and eats the guard bees that come out to investigate. Mother skunks are known to teach this behavior to their young. Also, in California, skunks dig up yellowjacket (small hornet) nests in summer, after the compacted soil under oak trees dries out and cracks open, which allows the yellowjackets to build their nests underground.
Skunks are crepuscular and solitary animals when not breeding, though in the colder parts of their range, they may gather in communal dens for warmth. During the day they shelter in burrows, which they can dig with their powerful front claws. Males and females occupy overlapping home ranges through the greater part of the year, typically 2 to 4 km2 (0.77 to 1.54 sq mi) for females and up to 20 km2 (7.7 sq mi) for males.
Skunks are not true hibernators in the winter, but do den up for extended periods of time. However, they remain generally inactive and feed rarely, going through a dormant stage. Over winter, multiple females (as many as 12) huddles together; males often den alone. Often, the same winter den is repeatedly used.
Although they have excellent senses of smell and hearing, they have poor vision, being unable to see objects more than about 3 m (10 ft) away, making them vulnerable to death by road traffic. They are short-lived; their lifespan in the wild can reach seven years, with most living only up to a year. In captivity, they may live for up to 10 years.
Skunks mate in early spring and are polygynous (that is, successful males are uninhibited from mating with additional females.)
Before giving birth (usually in May), the female excavates a den to house her litter of four to seven kits.
Skunks are placental, with a gestation period of about 66 days.
When born, skunk kits are blind, deaf, but already covered by a soft layer of fur. About three weeks after birth, they first open their eyes; the kits are weaned about two months after birth. They generally stay with their mother until they are ready to mate, roughly at one year of age.
The mother is protective of her kits, spraying at any sign of danger. The male plays no part in raising the young.
Skunks are notorious for their anal scent glands, which they can use as a defensive weapon. They are similar to, though much more developed than, the glands found in species of the family Mustelidae. Skunks have two glands, one on each side of the anus. These glands produce the skunk's spray, which is a mixture of sulfur-containing chemicals such as thiols (traditionally called mercaptans), which have an offensive odor. A skunk's spray is powerful enough to ward off bears and other potential attackers.Muscles located next to the scent glands allow them to spray with a high degree of accuracy, as far as 3 m (10 ft). The spray can also cause irritation and even temporary blindness, and is sufficiently powerful to be detected by a human nose up to 5.6 km (3.5 miles) downwind. Their chemical defense is effective, as illustrated by this extract from Charles Darwin's Voyage of the Beagle:
We saw also a couple of Zorrillos, or skunks—odious animals, which are far from uncommon. In general appearance, the Zorrillo resembles a polecat, but it is rather larger and much thicker in proportion. Conscious of its power, it roams by day about the open plain and fears neither dog nor man. If a dog is urged to the attack, its courage is instantly checked by a few drops of the fetid oil, which brings on violent sickness and running at the nose. Whatever is once polluted by it, is forever useless. Azara says the smell can be perceived at a league distance; more than once, when entering the harbour of Monte Video, the wind being offshore, we have perceived the odour onboard the Beagle. Certain it is, that every animal most willingly makes room for the Zorrillo.
Skunks carry just enough of the chemical for five or six successive sprays – about 15 cm3 – and require up to ten days to produce another supply. Their bold black and white coloration makes their appearance memorable. It is to a skunk's advantage to warn possible predators off without expending scent: black and white aposematic warning coloration aside, threatened skunks will go through an elaborate routine of hisses, foot-stamping, and tail-high deimatic or threat postures before resorting to spraying. Skunks usually do not spray other skunks, except among males in the mating season. If they fight over den space in autumn, they do so with teeth and claws.
Most predators of the Americas, such as wolves, foxes, and badgers, seldom attack skunks, presumably out of fear of being sprayed. The exceptions are reckless predators whose attacks fail once they are sprayed, dogs, and the great horned owl, which is the skunk's only regular predator. In one case, the remains of 57 striped skunks were found in a single great horned owl nest.
Skunks are common in suburban areas. Frequent encounters with dogs and other domestic animals, and the release of the odor when a skunk is run over, have led to many myths about the removal of skunk odor; an especially popular myth is that tomato juice will neutralize the odor of a skunk. These household remedies are ineffective.The Humane Society of the United States recommends treating dogs using a mixture of dilute hydrogen peroxide (3%), baking soda, and dishwashing liquid.
Skunk spray is composed mainly of three low-molecular-weight thiol compounds, (E)-2-butene-1-thiol, 3-methyl-1-butanethiol, and 2-quinolinemethanethiol, as well as acetatethioesters of these. These compounds are detectable by the human nose at concentrations of only 11.3 parts per billion.
Relations with humans
It is rare for a healthy skunk to bite a human, though a tame skunk whose scent glands have been removed (usually on behalf of those who will keep it as a pet) may defend itself by biting. There are, however, few recorded incidents of skunks biting humans. Skunk bites in humans can result in infection with the rabies virus (reflecting the virus's "evolutionary strategy" of, in effect, promoting its spread via the so-called mad-dog syndrome). The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recorded 1,494 cases of rabies in skunks in the United States for the year 2006—about 21.5% of reported cases in all species. Skunks in fact are less prominent than raccoons as vectors of rabies. (However, this varies regionally in the United States, with raccoons dominating along the Atlantic coast and the eastern Gulf of Mexico, while skunks instead predominate throughout the Midwest, including the western Gulf, and in California.)
Main article: Skunks as pets
Mephitis mephitis, the striped skunk, is the most social skunk and the one most commonly kept as a pet. In the US, skunks can legally be kept as pets in 17 states. When a skunk is kept as a pet, its scent glands are often surgically removed.
In the UK, skunks can be kept as pets, but the Animal Welfare Act 2006 made it illegal to remove their scent glands.
Main article: List of mephitids
In alphabetical order, the living species of skunks are:
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- ^"Skunk Fact Sheet"(PDF). The Georgia Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Division.
- ^Thwaites, Reuben Gold, ed. (1633–1634). The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents. Travels and Explorations of the Jesuit Missionaries in New France 1610—1791. VI. Quebec. Archived from the original on 15 December 2001.
- ^ abADW: Mephitis mephitis: INFORMATION. Animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu. Retrieved on 5 April 2012.
- ^ abVirtual Nature Trail. Striped Skunk. The Pennsylvania State University (2002).
- ^"Skunks Management Guidelines". Ipm.ucdavis.edu.
- ^"Eastern Spotted Skunk". Missouri Department of Conservation. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
- ^"Ask a Bear: Skunk Spray as Deterrent?". 4 May 2011.
- ^Darwin, Charles (1839). Voyage of the Beagle. London, England: Penguin. ISBN . Retrieved 27 June 2006.
- ^Biology and Control of Skunks. Agriculture and Rural Development. Government of Alberta, Canada. 1 June 2002
- ^"Oregon Zoo Animals: Great Horned Owl". Oregonzoo.org. Archived from the original on 19 March 2012. Retrieved 9 February 2012.
- ^"Great Horned Owl". The Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Archived from the original on 5 July 2017. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
- ^Hunter, Luke (2011). Carnivores of the World. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. ISBN .[page needed]
- ^Is it true that tomato sauce will get rid of the smell of a skunk?. Scienceline. Retrieved on 5 April 2012.
- ^"De-skunking your dog". The Humane Society of the United States.
- ^Andersen K. K.; Bernstein D. T. (1978). "Some Chemical Constituents of the Scent of the Striped Skunk (Mephitis mephitis)". Journal of Chemical Ecology. 1 (4): 493–499. doi:10.1007/BF00988589. S2CID 9451251.
- ^Andersen K. K.; Bernstein D. T. (1978). "1-Butanethiol and the Striped Skunk". Journal of Chemical Education. 55 (3): 159–160. Bibcode:1978JChEd..55..159A. doi:10.1021/ed055p159.
- ^Andersen K. K.; Bernstein D. T.; Caret R. L.; Romanczyk L. J. Jr. (1982). "Chemical Constituents of the Defensive Secretion of the Striped Skunk (Mephitis mephitis)". Tetrahedron. 38 (13): 1965–1970. doi:10.1016/0040-4020(82)80046-X.
- ^Wood W. F.; Sollers B. G.; Dragoo G. A.; Dragoo J. W. (2002). "Volatile Components in Defensive Spray of the Hooded Skunk, Mephitis macroura". Journal of Chemical Ecology. 28 (9): 1865–70. doi:10.1023/A:1020573404341. PMID 12449512. S2CID 19217201.
- ^Wood, William F. "Chemistry of Skunk Spray". Dept. of Chemistry, Humboldt State University. Retrieved 27 July 2010.
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- ^Aldrich, T.B. (1896). "A chemical study of the secretion of the anal glands of mephitis mephitica (common skunk), with remarks on the physiological properties of this secretion". J. Exp. Med. 1 (2): 323–340. doi:10.1084/jem.1.2.323. PMC 2117909. PMID 19866801.
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Figure 1. Striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis).
Photo by Greg Clements.
- Demonstrate the ability to educate clients about control options.
- Provide a diagram of typical sets used to capture skunks.
- Identify the risks involved in working with skunks.
- Describe options for controlling odor.
Legal Status in New York
Protected. Game species with set season. NWCOs may take or possess skunks without any additional permit from the DEC when the animal is damaging or destroying property or found to be a nuisance.
Skunks are a rabies vector species, so you must consult with the county health department and follow their guidelines for disposing of the animal.
Overview of Damage Management and Control Methods
- Remove garbage, debris, and lumber piles
- Close cellar, outside basement, and crawl-space doors
- Seal and cover all openings
- Trench-screen decks and porches
- Install wire mesh fences around poultry yards
- Elevate beehives and install aluminum guards
- Secure the base of fences
- One-way doors
Repellents and Toxicants
In New York, any use of toxicants or repellents by NWCOs requires the NWCO to have a pesticide applicator license.
- Effective, but usually emits odor
- No. 1 foothold
- No. 160 or 220 Conibear®-style or body-gripping traps
- 7- x 7- x 24-inch cage or box trap
Other Control Methods
Striped skunks (Mephitis mephitis, Figure 1) are members of the weasel family.
Skunks have short, stocky legs and proportionately large feet equipped with well-developed claws that enable them to be very adept at digging. Skunks can discharge nauseating musk from their anal glands and are capable of several discharges rather than just a single discharge. Striped skunks often are characterized by prominent, lateral white stripes that run down the back; the fur is otherwise jet black. Striped skunks are about the size of an ordinary house cat, up to 29 inches long and weighing about 8 pounds.
Voice and Sounds
Skunks make noises ranging from screeches, whimpers, and chirps. They stomp their front feet in a thump, thump combination when agitated.
Tracks and Signs
Tracks may be used to identify the animal causing damage (Figure 2). Both the hind and forefeet of skunks have 5 toes. In some cases, the fifth toe may not be obvious. Claw marks usually are visible, but the heels of the forefeet normally are not. Tracks from the hind feet are approximately 2½ inches long.
Droppings of skunks can often be identified by the undigested insect parts they contain. Droppings are ¼ to ½ inch in diameter, and 1 to 2 inches long.
Odor is not always a reliable indicator of the presence or absence of skunks. The musk of skunks can be detected for up to a mile away. Opossums also emit a “skunk-like” odor. Sometimes dogs, cats, or other animals that have been sprayed by skunks make owners mistakenly think skunks are present. Odor from skunks that persists for days and increases in intensity typically means a skunk has died and the musk gland has broken open.
Adult skunks begin breeding in late February through March. Gestation is 62-75 days. Litters commonly consist of 4 to 7 young, but may be from 2 to 16. Young or small females have smaller litters than old or large females. Kits forage with the female when they are 7 weeks old and are independent at 3 months old, but stay with the female until fall. Both sexes mature by the following spring. Skunks can live up to 10 years, but few live beyond 3 years in the wild.
The normal home range of the skunk is ½ to 2 miles in diameter. During the breeding season, a male may travel 4 to 5 miles each night. Females that do not wish to mate with a particular male typically will spray them.
Skunks prefer to den in abandoned woodchuck holes, hollow logs and under decks, porches, sheds or other secluded areas. Dens typically have good drainage and protection from rain.
Skunks are dormant during the coldest part of winter, but may emerge if there is a warm spell. They may den together in winter for warmth, but generally are solitary except for females with young. They are nocturnal, slow moving, deliberate, and have great confidence in defending themselves against other animals. In the summer, females may be active during the day while foraging for food for the young.
Skunks inhabit a variety of habitats, but prefers clearings, pastures, and open lands bordering forests.
Skunks eat plants and animals in about equal amounts during fall and winter. They eat considerably more animal matter during spring and summer when insects, their preferred food, are more available. Grasshoppers, beetles, and crickets are the adult insects most often taken, but they will also eat earthworms, bird eggs, garbage and pet food. Skunks dig in lawns for insect larvae and grubs. Field and house mice are regular and important items in the diet of skunks, particularly in winter. Rats, cottontail rabbits, and other small mammals are taken when other food is scarce.
Damage to Structures
Damage by skunks to structures tends to be of an olfactory nature rather than affecting the integrity of a structure. Odor can penetrate and linger in cloth furniture, clothing, and carpets. Odor from skunks can contaminate items several floors away from the original source.
Damage to Livestock and Pets
Skunks occasionally kill poultry and eat eggs. They normally do not climb fences to get to poultry. By contrast, rats, weasels, mink, and raccoons regularly climb fences. Eggs usually are opened on one end with the edges crushed inward. Weasels, mink, dogs, and raccoons usually kill several chickens or ducks at a time. Dogs often severely mutilate poultry.
Skunks prefer to be left alone. Pets, particularly dogs, with strong territorial instincts soon discover that skunks will spray. Some dogs continue to attack and sometimes kill skunks. Owners should avoid touching pets that have been sprayed with bare hands and keep them outdoors. Pets should be washed before they are handled. If possible, have the skunk tested for rabies. Owners should consult their veterinarian about further treatment for their pets and consult the local health department about their own need for rabies post-exposure vaccination.
Damage to Landscapes
Skunks dig holes in lawns, golf courses, and gardens to search for insect grubs found in the soil. Digging normally appears as small, 3- to 4-inch, cone-shaped holes or patches of upturned earth. Skunks typically are very precise in their digging and they are known to remove insects systematically from the turf in a section-by-section fashion. In general, damage stops after 3 weeks because food is no longer available. Several other animals, including raccoons and domestic dogs also dig in lawns.
Skunks occasionally feed on corn, eating only the lower ears. If the cornstalk is knocked over, raccoons more likely are the cause of damage. Damage to the upper ears of corn often is indicative of birds, deer, or squirrels.
Health and Safety Concerns
Skunks are a rabies vector species. Avoid being bitten by and coming into unprotected contact with bodily fluids of skunks. Skunk spray is not known to contain the rabies virus. If exposure has occurred, promptly seek medical advice. Have the skunk tested for rabies if possible. Some clients will respond with asthmatic symptoms when exposed to odor from skunks. Advise clients to leave the area.
Rabid skunks are prime vectors for spread of the virus. Avoid overly aggressive skunks that approach without hesitation. Any skunk showing abnormal behavior, such as daytime activity, may be rabid and should be treated with caution. Report skunks that are behaving abnormally to local animal control authorities.
Laboratory testing is the only way to definitively determine the presence of rabies in an animal. Rabies can be prevented but it cannot be cured once the virus reaches brain tissue.
Skunks will not defend themselves unless they are cornered or harmed. They usually provide a warning before discharging their scent by stamping their forefeet rapidly and arching their tails over their backs. Anyone experiencing such a threat should retreat quietly and slowly. Loud noises and quick, aggressive actions should be avoided.
Always follow the safety and first-aid guidelines on the product label of all deodorant products. Carefully read the label prior to mixing and applying any product. The following guidelines can be used when other instructions are not available.
Eyes exposed to musk of skunks or deodorant may show severe burning and excessive tearing. Flush eyes with copious amounts of lukewarm water for 15 minutes. Ensure run-off water does not contaminate the unaffected eye. Use a large cup and hold it 2 to 4 inches above the eye while pouring. Seek medical advice.
If ingestion of deodorantsoccurs, follow the directions on the product label and call the Poison Control Center.
Inhalation of the musk of skunks may cause headache, dizziness, shortness of breath, and fatigue. Move the victim to fresh air immediately. Seek medical advice.
If skin exposure to the musk of skunks occurs, remove contaminated clothing and flush skin with water for at least 10 minutes to prevent chemical burns. Seek medical advice.
Skunks become a nuisance when their burrowing or feeding habits conflict with humans. They may burrow under porches or buildings by entering foundation openings. Garbage or refuse left outdoors may be disturbed by skunks. Skunks also may damage beehives by attempting to feed on bees. Many homeowners experience odor-related concerns.
Skunks may be controlled whenever damage is occurring.
Remove garbage, debris, and lumber piles to reduce attractiveness of an area to skunks. In general, skunks prefer cover and debris-filled areas as these provide excellent hunting grounds. Properly dispose of garbage or other food sources that will attract skunks. Skunks often are attracted to rodents living in barns, crawl spaces, sheds, and garages. Control programs for rodents may be necessary to eliminate these attractive food sources.
Seal all ground-level openings into poultry buildings and close doors at night. Poultry yards and coops without subsurface foundations may be fenced with 3-foot wire mesh fences. Bury the fence to prevent digging under it. Skunks can be excluded from window wells or similar pits with mesh fence or window well covers. All pits greater than 3 inches deep should be secured to prevent entrapment of juvenile skunks. Place beehives on stands 3 feet high. It may be necessary to install aluminum guards around the bases of hives if skunks attempt to climb the supports, though skunks normally do not climb. Use tight-fitting lids to keep skunks out of garbage cans.
Keep skunks from denning under buildings by sealing off all foundation openings. Cover all openings with wire mesh, sheet metal, or concrete. Where skunks can gain access by digging, follow these guidelines. Bury ½-inch weave fences 2 inches below the ground and extend the mesh out perpendicular from the location being protected at least 12 inches. Increase depth and extension of mesh in sandy soil or when skunks are highly motivated to enter the location.
Skunks can be excluded from a structure using a 1-way door. Secure the perimeter of a deck or shed with trench-screen. Install a 1-way door (minimum size 4 x 4 inches, Figure 5) over the entrance in a manner that ensures the skunks can easily exit. Return after several days of good weather to evaluate the location. Remove the 1-way door and secure the opening.
Be sure to remove the animal and/or young before sealing up the den or structure. You may try to convince your customers to wait until the young are mobile before removing them from the site. If that is unacceptable, you can try to capture and remove the female and all of her young and hope that she will retrieve them and continue to care for them. If the young ae older and mobile, install a 1-way door over the entry hole. They will leave but won’t be able to re-enter. Wait 3 – 4 days before sealing the entry.
No frightening devices are effective for the control of skunks.
Repellents and Toxicants
In New York, any use of toxicants or repellents by NWCOs requires the NWCO to have a pesticide applicator license.
Before using any product, you must check the New York State Pesticide Administrator Database (NYSPAD) to see if the product is registered for use in NY and for the target species. For example, if the product is registered for use on squirrels, it cannot be used for deer. The following are presented as examples of repellents and toxicants that may be effective.
No repellents are registered for the control of skunks.
Gas cartridges may be registered for the fumigating burrows of skunks. Fumigation kills skunks and any other animals present in the burrows by suffocation or toxic gases. If legal, follow label directions and take care to avoid fire hazards and exposure of gases to non-targets when used near structures. Light and hold gas cartridges until they ignite before placing them deep in burrows. Seal openings of the burrow with soil to secure the fumigant in the burrow.
Shooting is effective, but there is no reliable method of shooting skunks without emitting odor. If odor is not a problem, use a .22-caliber rifle or shotgun with No. 6 shot.
Cage and Box Traps
Cage traps should be covered at least 50% of their length, especially when trapping skunks. Otherwise, use box traps. Some manufactures market box traps specifically for skunks. The traps are made out of plastic to prevent the skunk from becoming agitated and to provide a visual barrier.
Covers reduce rather than eliminate the ability of skunks to spray. Always approach a trap slowly and quietly to avoid upsetting a trapped skunk. Hold a small tarp or blanket in front as you approach a trapped skunk. Stop if the skunk shows signs of agitation. When you are close, gently drape the tarp over the trap. Gently remove the trap from the area and release or kill the trapped skunk. Removing and transporting cage- or box-trapped skunks may appear to be precarious business, but covered traps are a proven, save, and effective method for moving skunks.
To remove skunks that are already established under buildings, first seal all possible entrances along the foundation. Leave the main burrow open. Set traps in a barricade to force them into the traps. A minimum of 3 cage or box traps are recommended. Two-door traps are very effective, as are single-door traps. Place traps so that a skunk in 1 trap cannot reach to trip the adjoining trap.
After the first night, replace or reset the traps. If no skunk is caught, set test sticks over the den entrance to determine if more skunks are present. If no activity is observed in 2 to 3 days, the den likely is empty. Fish-flavored cat food, peanut butter, sardines, and chicken entrails are effective baits for skunks. Sweet baits such as marshmallow spread, fruit preserves, and jellies also may be effective when domestic cats are present.
Body-gripping or Conibear®-style traps generally kill the trapped animal. Avoid trapping domestic animals, such as cats and dogs. It is not advisable to use a body-gripping trap under or near a structure due to concerns with odor.
Number 160- or 220-sized traps should be used. Out-of-the-way dens in rural areas are the best places to set these traps. Place traps in front of dens and stake them solidly to prevent the trap from moving as an animal approaches and to prevent trap loss. Always make sure the trap has room to fire, or it will be thrown out of position by the closing action of the jaws.
Most trappers push sticks into the ground between the springs and slightly inside of the jaws to help stabilize the trap. Cover den sets with chicken wire to prevent domestic animals from entering the trap, but make sure room is available for the trap to fire.
Foothold traps should not be used to catch skunks near houses because of the tendency of skunks to spray.
When rescuing skunks from window wells and garages, on-site release is the preferred option. Be sure the client and neighbors keep their doors closed, pets restrained, and children away from the area. Release the skunk in an out-of-the-way area with ground cover. If possible, release the skunk close to nightfall.
Relocation and Translocation
Relocation and translocation are not advised because skunks are a rabies vector species. NWCOs must contact the County Health Department Office in the county where the animal was caught to get guidance on if and where the animal can be released off-site. Prior to release, NWCOs must obtain permission from the owner of the land where the animal will be released.
Translocation of skunks is not advised because they are a rabies vector species. In many situations translocation may be restricted, so check state and local regulations.
Carbon dioxide is the preferred method of euthanasia for skunks. Skunks are tolerant to CO2, so it may take up to 20 minutes to die. Observe the chest for motion for at least 3 minute to ensure that breathing has ceased. Skunks have been known to spray during asphyxiation. Often, their sphincters loosen, allowing some fluid to release.
Where odor issues are not a priority, .22-caliber, rim-fire firearms or a shotgun with No. 6 shot, can be used where allowed and safe. The shot usually is directed to the head. An extremely intense odor event almost always will be associated with the shot. Other methods may be preferable. Follow firearm safety instructions at all times and take a certified firearm safety course before attempting to shoot.
Check state and local regulations regarding disposal of carcasses.
Other Control Methods
Sometimes skunks must be captured directly, without the use of traps because the urgency of the situation demands immediate action. Skunks that are sick or in high-visibility areas typically require direct removal. You cannot guarantee an odor-free removal. Equipment needed includes, gloves, light-colored blanket (large enough to cover the holding cage and protect the lower half of your body), cat grasper, and a transport cage.
- Restrict the movement of the skunk.
- Keep the blanket between you and the skunk.
- Keep a low profile. Skunks feel threatened when large objects approach.
- Watch how the skunk behaves. Approach slowly and stop when the skunk seems agitated. Speak softly or not at all.
- When close enough, move quickly and precisely. Cover the skunk with the blanket, capture it with the cat-grasper, and insert it into the open cage. Sometimes skunks will walk right into an open cage.
- Deodorize as needed.
Removal of Skunks
If a skunk enters a garage, cellar, or house, open the doors to allow the skunk to exit on its own, set a trap, or encourage the animal to leave with a water hose. Watch the behavior of the animal. If it thumps its front feet and turns its back side to you, these are signs that the skunk is agitated and about to spray.
A skunk trapped in a cellar window well or similar pit can be removed by using a ramp. Nail cleats at 6-inch intervals to a board (Figure 8), or securing hardware cloth between 2, 2 x 4 boards. Lower the board into the well and allow the skunk to climb out on its own.
Skunks are famous for their pungent defensive spray, known as musk. The musk is a yellow-tinted, oily liquid stored in 2 sacks located on opposite sides of the anus. Each sack holds about a teaspoon of musk; enough to allow multiple sprays. It is discharged through “nipples” that provide skunks with several key advantages. Each nipple has its own musk sack, allowing the skunk to shoot with “both barrels.” The nipples can be directed to aim at a specific target and adjusted to discharge musk in either a mist or stream.
Musk of skunks is not known to transmit the rabies virus but it can temporarily blind and stun individuals that are sprayed in the face. Victims will experience watering eyes and may vomit. Musk of skunks is composed primarily of 3 volatile chemicals known as thiols that give musk of skunks its awful smell. Humans can smell musk of skunks in concentrations as low as 10 parts per billion.
Odor Control Theory
Three essential aspects must be present before someone can smell an odor: there must be a source of the odor, it must be released, and it must be perceived. Remove any part of the triad and you will be unable to perceive the odor. Methods of control that endeavor to encapsulate odors usually are impractical for most situations. The vast majority of techniques for odor seek to remove the first and/or third parts of the triad.
General deodorizing principles will workfor musk of skunks and other odors.Whenever possible, treat the source of the odor. Deodorants work best when applied directly onto the objects that have been sprayed. Avoid unnecessary movement of contaminated materials to reduce spreading odors to new areas. A key exception to this principle is when contaminated materials are being moved to a less-inhabited area. Ventilate with fresh air.
Odors may “reactivate” during periods of high humidity. If the odor does not seem to decrease in strength after 1 or 2 weeks, the skunk likely re-sprayed or died on the property. Use air fresheners to mask residual odor. Women are more likely to notice odors than men are. While the research is not conclusive, it appears that women have more sensitive noses than men.
Deodorizing treatments may be needed to reduce odor from skunks.An odor from the musk of skunks can be controlled effectively at its source by chemically changing the active compound. In the case of musk, relief can be achieved by oxidizing the thiols. We will use the term “neutralize” for those products that chemically interact with musk of skunks. “Scent” will be used to describe products that simply mask odor. “Deodorizing” will be a neutral term to describe all products that mitigate odor from skunks regardless of the mechanism.
Deodorant products may cause adverse reactions in people that are sensitive to the ingredients. People do not always know what substances cause allergic reactions. Some deodorants contain toxic compounds. All chemicals, whether natural or synthetic, should be used in a manner that reduces exposure. Avoid exposing children, pets, and plants to chemicals. Remove foodstuffs and secure food preparation areas whenever possible. Read and follow all product label directions and warnings. Use deodorants in well-ventilated areas. Some products may discolor fabrics and other materials. Test the product on a less noticeable area prior to treating more visible areas.
Repeatedly apply deodorants when odors penetrate porous surfaces such as sheet rock or unpainted wood. Occasionally, removal of contaminated materials will be the only solution. Expectations should be lowered to reduce the likelihood of disappointment.
Over-the-counter solutions can help reduce odors. Paul Krebaum discovered a formula that has proven its ability to chemically neutralize the thiols in musk of skunks. Mix 1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide, ¼ cup of baking soda and a teaspoon of liquid dish detergent. Ingredients must be mixed in an open container and used immediately. Never mix the ingredients in advance, as the released oxygen may cause the container to explode. This formula can be used on people and pets, but avoid splashing the product in the eyes or mouth. Allow the solution to remain in hair for 5 minutes before rinsing with water. Repeat as needed.
For inanimate objects, mix 1 cup of liquid laundry bleach into 1 gallon of water. Be careful, as bleach is corrosive and can stain fabrics. It is unclear if “color safe” bleach is an effective deodorizer for musk of skunks. A variety of odor control products are available at area stores (Skunk-Off®, Odor-Mute®). Homeowners may find these products helpful in deodorizing their property. Tomato juice is not recommended. It, along with many other home-remedies, only appears to be effective because these scents exploit olfactory fatigue. Olfactory fatigue occurs when the nose is so overwhelmed with odor that it can only smell something “new”, thereby giving the appearance that the original odor has been eliminated.
Professional deodorants are available for use by the public. Neutroleum Alpha® has been used to control odor from skunks in a variety of settings, including medical facilities. It deodorizes by masking the odor with a different one that is described as “minty.” Use it directly on surfaces. It also can be used as an air deodorizer by dabbing on napkins and hanging them in the area. Generally, a single application is sufficient.
Neutroleum Alpha® has toxic and irritating properties. Applicators should use the product in well-ventilated areas and avoid direct contact with skin or mucous membranes. Wear rubber gloves when mixing the solution. The product dissolves best in warm water. Use the solution when it is fresh and dispose of any leftover solution. Unmixed Neutroleum Alpha® must be stored in a cool, dark place to prevent explosion.
Freshwave® is the retail name of the industrial product known as Ecosorb®. It neutralizes odors by using Van Der Waal forces. The product captures the malodorous compounds and chemically modifies them. Freshwave® may be sprayed on affected surfaces and repeated as needed. Freshwave® does have a slight smell that has been described as “tea tree” in nature. For lingering odors, pour the product in a wide-mouthed jar and allow it to spread into the air. To hasten the process, place the jar in front of a fan. Avoid splashing the product into eyes. Freshwave® also is sold in candle form. Use appropriate fire precautions with candles.
Epoleon N100®is a water-based organic odor neutralizer that is nearly odorless. Epoleon® is sold as a concentrate and must be diluted in water before use. Unfortunately, the manufacturer does not give specific mixing instructions for odor from skunks. One professional, who has used the product frequently, suggests a 1 to 20 ratio up to a 1 to 5 ratio depending on need. The diluted chemical can then be sprayed or atomized. The product will leave a slight residue as the water evaporates. Wipe down surfaces with a wet towel to gather up any remaining product. Epoleon® can be used in a variety of settings except where food is prepared.
Bioshield® is an anti-microbial product (EPA Registration Number 70871). It deodorizes by killing odor-causing bacteria. It has been successfully used by NWCOs, though given its toxicity and warnings regarding use, it is advisable that homeowners do not use this product. It has a slight alcohol scent but otherwise smells neutral.
Electric atomizing sprayers and foggers can reach large spaces or tight areas with deodorant. Sometimes, odor from skunks is so dispersed that fogging a deodorant is necessary. As a rule of thumb, 16 ounces of neutralizing deodorant solution atomized with a droplet size of 15 microns can deodorize a 1,500-square-foot residence. Atomizers provide 2 key advantages for odor control over hand-pump sprayers. First, atomized droplets stay airborne longer, thereby circulating throughout the treatment area. The tiny nooks and crannies present in crawl spaces and attics can be completely treated by exploiting natural air movements. Second, smaller droplets allow for less of the product to be used because they have a greater surface area-to-volume ratio than larger droplets. Several atomizers are available. Below are several tips to help you determine the type of atomizer best suited to your needs.
- Portability – How balanced is the device? How much will it weigh when the storage tank is filled to capacity? Is it battery powered or will you be tied to an electrical cord?
- Versatility – Does the atomizer have a flexible spray hose that will enable you to direct the fog to different areas of the room? How small of a droplet does the atomizer create (you want a 22 micron droplet or smaller)?
- Cost – How often will you use the device in relation to its cost? Adequate atomizers can be purchased for about $200 or less.
Fabrics can be deodorized through time, air, soap and water, or ammonia in water. Musk of skunks is an oily compound and can be removed by methods used to remove oily substances. The odor molecule can be destroyed with a weak acid. White vinegar, dry-cleaning fluid, or household chlorine bleach in a weak solution is suggested for removing odor from clothing. Do not mix these products together.
Other recommended treatments include washing items with a strong soap, a heavy-duty liquid detergent, or borax. Neutroleum Alpha®also can be used to deodorize washable items. Use 1 ounce per 2 gallons of warm water.
For clothing that cannot be washed or dry-cleaned, such as shoes, some have suggested burying them in fine, dry soil for several days. The fine particles of soil are purported to absorb the odor, leaving the original article free of odor. Kitty litter, sweeping compound, and other fine-particle materials also are alleged to work. Odorous materials can be suspended outdoors to enable fresh air to carry away the volatile thiols. The odor will decrease over time.
Material is updated and adapted from the book, Prevention and Control of Wildlife Damage, 1994, published by the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension.
Reviewers of Original Document
Michael Beran, All Animal Control of Northwest Louisiana; Tim L. Hiller, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife; and G. R. Welsh, University of Maryland
How Big Is a Skunk Hole?
Skunks dig two types of holes — burrows that they use for sleeping and nesting and much smaller holes for finding food. The safest way to deal with this type of problem is to trust skunk removal Milwaukee experts here at Skedaddle Humane Wildlife Control.
How To Recognize a Burrow
It can be hard to tell the difference between the signs of one animal or another. When you are trying to determine what animal is on your property, it is better to wait for wildlife removal technicians to tell you what they caught than risk getting too close and causing the animal to feel the need to defend itself. However, there are a few easily recognizable features of a skunk home that announce your new striped neighbor.
Size and Location
A burrow entrance will be approximately eight inches wide and deep enough that you will not be able to see all the way into the nest, especially since you ought to keep a safe distance from any wildlife den.
A skunk often likes to dig its home under an object that it considers sound and protective. In nature, this means it is on the lookout for a fallen log, a large rock, or another similar structure. In your yard, however, this unfortunately often means it is likely to dig a hole that undermines the foundation of your home, patio, deck, or other outdoor structure.
It’s difficult to say with certainty whether a den belongs to a raccoon or skunk since the holes are approximately the same size and either animal may claim a burrow that once belonged to the other. One way to get a good idea of what kind of animal is using the hole is to look for hair at the edge. Raccoons commonly leave small clumps of fur behind when they squeeze into a den. Generally, skunks leave only a few hairs behind at the entrance.
How To Recognize Foraging Holes
The holes left behind by attempts to find food are relatively small and shallow, but plentiful. Skunk holes made during foraging will be no more than a couple inches in diameter, four inches deep, and are relatively cone-shaped. If a skunk learns that it can find delicious grubs in your lawn or garden, you will regularly see groupings of holes. Filling in the damage does not deter the behavior because the animal is not concerned about what happens with the hole after it has found dinner.
How To Prevent Skunk Damage
Skunk holes all have a purpose, and they will continue to return if the animal is receiving positive reinforcement for the behavior. If every time it tries to dig for food in your lawn it finds grubs, the skunk will keep coming back. Having an appealing food source nearby will make that skunk more likely to decide to find a nice place to dig a home.
Skunks have a wide diet of plants and bugs, so you will probably not be able to eliminate all meal sources, especially if you have a garden. However, you can make food more difficult to get to by using chicken wire and treating your lawn for grubs and being sure to remove all other food sources like pet food and trash. If food is easier to get somewhere else, your nighttime visitors are less likely to come.
Skunk Removal in Milwaukee
We can safely and humanely take care of your wildlife problem because we understand animals. Whether or not you are certain about which creatures are digging holes on your property, our technicians can get rid of them for you and even give you additional tips on how to prevent another from moving in.Contact us today to get the professional and caring help that you deserve.
Filed Under: Blog, Milwaukee, SkunksTagged With: skunk control milwaukee, skunk removal milwaukeeSours: https://www.skedaddlewildlife.com/blog/how-big-is-a-skunk-hole/
Den diagram skunk
Do Skunks Burrow Underground?
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For those who have had the opportunity to examine a skunk, one of the animal's distinctive features are the strong sharp claws that they have, with those on the front paws being the ones that the skunks will use when they are digging. Skunks are creatures that will naturally look for a particular series of features when they choose the location for their den, but while they can dig their own burrows, they are adaptable enough to use other locations as dens as well. While skunks may not be prolific diggers in the same way that moles and woodchucks are, they will certainly be happy to put in the effort when digging their den. Read more about Why do skunks dig?
What Are The Key Features In The Location Of A Skunk's Den?
One of the most important things for a skunk is that their den will need to be within fairly close proximity to a water source, as their range will only be a maximum of a mile and a half from their den, and the water source is essential for the skunk's survival. Along with this, they will look for areas that have good food sources available, and this can include urban areas with good scavenging, or more rural areas with their traditional food sources.
How Skunks Dig Their Burrows
The physical features of skunks make them quite skilled at digging, and they tend to have shorter front legs with large paws that make them well designed for moving a relatively large amount of earth quickly. It is common that skunks will dig a den with several individual chambers, and in some cases you will find several skunks living in one den.
Making Their Nest More Comfortable
One of the distinctive features of a skunk den is that once they have dug the chambers, they will then bring in a variety of different nesting materials to make it more comfortable. They can use a range of natural materials for this purpose, and it is common to see grass, leaves and hay used to line the den to make it more comfortable for the skunk.
Alternative Dens For A Skunk
While they may dig their own burrows, skunks are also opportunistic in many ways, and if they find a den dug by another animal such as a fox or a woodchuck, then they will often take that den instead. When a skunk has moved into an urban area, they will often find areas such as cellars, cavities beneath sheds and porches and spaces under decking in which they can create a nest. Read more about when skunks shed their fur.
Go back to the Skunk Removal page, or learn tips by reading How to get rid of skunks.
How To Identify Skunk Dens
Identifying Skunk Dens
While they prefer to use the abandoned holes of other burrowing pests, skunks may also opt to make their dens under decks, porches, and sheds. Skunk dens are used by adults when they give birth to young in the spring and also to avoid cold weather in the winter. Typically solitary pests, skunks can be drawn together during colder weather in these makeshift homes, sometimes with as many as 20 individuals living together. At times, these pests may even use rock heaps, wood piles, and crawl spaces under homes.
Skunk Den Removal
Skunks are notorious diggers and will make holes in lawns in search of grubs and other food. In order to keep skunks away from homes, certain exclusion methods should be used. If you find an excavated area that you think might be a preferred skunk denning site, you can fill in some of the hole with loose dirt. If, over the next few days, the dirt is gone and the hole reopened, skunks are most likely the culprit. Fencing or sealing the area completely should keep them out.
If a skunk den is being used for young skunks, it is imperative to allow the babies to escape before permanently blocking the area. To ensure proper and humane removal, contact a trained wildlife specialist. Aside from their noxious spray, skunks are known carriers of rabies and numerous parasites that can spread other diseases. While they are typically not aggressive, it is not safe to allow these pests to remain on your property. Call Orkin Canada to take care of any skunk dens in your yard.
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