Skunks are not always the most welcome creatures in the community, but as it turns out, they aren’t so bad!
They are typically very docile animals who mean no harm. However, their severe near-sightedness and their smelly spray earn them a life of infamy. This pungent odor is their only defense, but it’s also used at the skunk’s discretion, as
there is a limited amount of “ammo” available. Before emitting their spray, skunks will stamp
their front feet to give their “threat” time to back off.
Skunks really deserve to be appreciated for their eating habits. They are often blamed for eating garden
vegetables, however, they are actually eating the insects and other critters
that many people also view as pests such as mice and baby rats.
Like all animals, skunks will seek out places to live, hide, and find food. Skunks often wander
into garages if the door is left open. If you’d like to kick out your new tenant, you can sprinkle flour
under the garage door before dusk. Once you see footprints leaving the premise, close the door
and ensure the door is closed moving forward (please check for babies!).
If a family of skunks has taken up residence under your deck or shed, the best option is usually
to let them raise their young, leave, and then seal up the hole that they entered by. Skunks are nomadic
and will leave on their own once the babies are old enough. If you can install a one-way door,
this will allow the family to leave but not return.
If there’s heavy rain or you’re over-watering your lawn, you may find that skunks are digging it
up in search of grubs. Once the ground dries up again, the digging will likely cease and your
lawn will return to normal. If you want to repel the skunks, you can sprinkle cayenne pepper on
the lawn or spray a homemade mixture (1 cup castor oil, 1 cup liquid dish soap, and a gallon of
water). There are also natural, non-toxic bacterias that you can purchase and spread. This may
take around a year to be effective, though.
Skunks are not aggressive. Again, their defense is spraying rather than biting or scratching. Due
to their near-sightedness, skunks may wander up to a child, or orphaned young may follow a
child, unable to discern that it’s a person. These instances are infrequent yet you should teach
your child to avoid any contact with wild animals and instead enjoy watching them from afar.
If you see a sick looking or injured skunk in your community, it is best not to touch it yourself. You should
contact a wildlife rescue for instructions. In the meantime, if there is a deceased skunk, to contain the corpse or any babies you may
find, use an upside-down laundry basket to contain them and cover it with a sheet to calm them down.
Corpses in the road can attract feeding animals that may also get run over, so try to move him/her from the middle
of the road, if you can do so safely.
Unfortunately, skunks may contract their own strain of rabies (primarily in central U.S.). However, this disease rarely causes human fatalities. It’s important to take proper precautions by calling a wildlife rescue organization if you observe a sick or disoriented-acting skunk.
Most people believe a common myth that seeing nocturnal animals during the day implies that
they have rabies. However, sometimes they forage by day, particularly in the spring, when they
have young. If you spot a baby skunk wandering around during the day, this likely isn't
rabies, either. Watch to see if the baby finds the den or if the mother retrieves him. You can put
a plastic laundry basket upside down over the skunk to temporarily contain the animal while
waiting for the mother to return. Approach the skunk slowly and talk softly – if the skunk gives a
warning by stamping the front feet, then stand still or back off. You can approach again after the
animal calms down. As baby skunks get older, they sometimes come out to explore but most of
the time they don’t appear without the mother. If you continually see baby skunks outside, they
may be orphaned. An orphaned baby will be frantic. If the skunk appears to be truly orphaned,
call your local wildlife rescue organization. If an adult skunk is showing abnormal behaviors such as paralysis, circling, unprovoked
aggression, screeching, self-mutilation, or uncharacteristic tameness, call your local wildlife rescue organization and keep all
companion animals and children away from the animal.
Although people’s gut reaction may be to “get rid of the skunks,” trapping will not solve the
problem because skunks from the surrounding area will soon replace any removed. As long as
there’s skunk habitat, there will be skunks. Trapping merely creates turnover in the population.
In addition, nuisance wildlife control companies charge a fee - sometimes hundreds of dollars
- for problems that homeowners often can resolve themselves. And when animals are
trapped during the birthing season, starving babies may be left behind. We discourage trapping
unless an animal is stuck somewhere and can’t get out, or poses an immediate threat to
humans or domestic pets.
THE ANSWER is prevention through exclusion
MAGICAL SKUNK DEODORIZER RECIPE: For dogs, clothes, skin, etc.
* One quart 3% hydrogen peroxide
* ¼ cup baking soda
* 1 tsp. of liquid dish or laundry soap
Mix these 3 ingredients together, then dip a washrag in the solution and rub down the dog.
Rinse and the odor will disappear within minutes!
A word of warning: hydrogen peroxide may give dark-furred animals rust colored highlights...which might be quite nice depending on how they are received by their friends.
If the scent has gotten into your home, you can use the non-toxic deodorizer Odors
Away™ can be inexpensively purchased at hardware stores. It will instantly neutralize any bad
odor indoors. Just put a few drops in an empty bowl, and place it in any room that smells. Add a
few more drops every 24 hours.