- Skunks are a member of the weasel family.
People generally relate skunks to the foul-smelling, defensive spray they discharge when scared or threatened. Many people have experienced this unpleasant odor along roadways and on dogs that have come in contact with skunks.
- In many parts of North America, skunks are the major carriers of rabies. The two most common in the U.S. are the striped skunk and the spotted skunk.
- The striped skunk characterized by a black body with a narrow white stripe on the forehead and wider stripes that extend from the neck along each side of the back. It is about the size of a large domestic cat while the spotted skunk is half that size.
- Skunks are nocturnal, usually active from early evening through the night. They usually spend their days sleeping in dens, although during the warm months they may bed in vegetation. Dens are usually below ground but may be found in a stream or pond banks, lumber piles, or beneath porches or in crawl spaces.
- Skunks have sharp claws on the front feet used for digging insects and worms. Their footprint and moving patterns distinguish them from other similar-sized animals.
During the colder winter months, several skunks will gather and share the same den.
Skunks do not hibernate but generally remain inactive during winter, surviving on their fat stores. However, they may leave the winter den for short periods during warm weather.
- Mating occurs in late winter (February and March) and the young are born from mid-spring until mid-summer. Generally, there are 4 - 6 young per litter. The young skunks are weaned at 2 months and usually leave to establish their own den by fall.
- Their diet consists of insects such as crickets, grasshoppers, beetles , cutworms and various insect larvae. They will also sometimes eat poultry, eggs, garden vegetables and fruit. They can dig and root in the soil looking for insect larvae. Sod lawn damage by skunks often has the sod"rolled back" in a similar fashion as done by raccoons. They will also feed on mice, rats, ground squirrels, shrews, moles and other small mammals. They are beneficial in keeping the rodent population down when not being a nuissance.
- Skunks are known for their discharge, an obnoxious odor when provoked. This is released primarily in self defense. A skunk can release a spray of oily liquid as far as 10-15 feet and spray up to six times in succession. The fluid is painful if it gets in a person's or pet's eyes and may cause temporary blindness for about 15 minutes. Skunks will usually stamp their feet, hiss or growl and raise their tail erect as a warning of an oncoming discharge. After a full discharge, it takes up to 10 days to replenish the supply.
- A skunk generally sprays only as a last resort, preferring to retreat from danger.
Dog or cat food left outside for family pets can be very attractive to skunks. Discontinue this practice if skunks are a problem.
Many problems with skunks around homes and farms can be prevented by excluding skunks from spaces beneath buildings. Skunks can be prevented from living or entering under buildings and other structures by closing all spaces with wood or metal screen. Ensure spaces are enclosed tightly to the ground to discourage digging.
When skunks are already living under a building, they can be coerced to leave in the following manner:
- Seal all openings except the main skunk entrance. Use sturdy wire mesh (1/4-inch hardware cloth or similar materials) to screen vents near ground level in houses and other structures. Tightly seal holes in foundations or under porches to prevent skunks from entry and making homes there.
- To determine entry points that the skunks would be making, you can use "tracking patches" of a fine layer of sand, flour or dust placed at suspected entrances.
- After dark, when the skunk has left seeking food they will leave tracks at the den entrance. Inspect the powder for exiting skunk tracks.
- Once a skunk has left the building, immediately seal the entrance with the hardware cloth "door" described below. You will not want to permanently exclude at this point, not being sure of of the number of skunks present. To temporarily exclude the skunks ,a 1/2 -inch hardware cloth "door" can be used. Attach a section of 1/2-inch hardware cloth to the opening, hinged at the top and left loose on the other 3 sides. It should be larger than the opening so that it cannot swing inward. The skunks will push it open to leave, but cannot re-enter. The following evening, re-apply tracking patches- powder, and re-open the entrance to allow any other skunks to leave before permanently closing the opening.
- Once you are sure all skunks are out, permanently seal the opening. Extend the wire screen or other materials used to block the entrance several inches below the ground to prevent the skunk from digging under it. Or, the barrier can include a wire skirt at ground level extending at least 12 inches horizontally outward from the entrance. Young skunks may remain in the den from April through August. Be sure all animals are out before sealing up the entrance. Moth balls or moth flakes (naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene) scattered or placed in porous cloth bags suspended in the den area, or liquid ammonia solution in a shallow pan, may discourage skunks from returning.
- Bright lights placed under buildings may serve a similar function.
- When skunks have become trapped by falling into a window well, cellar, or hole in the ground, carefully lower a cleated board into the hole to allow them to climb out and escape.
The presence of skunks near homes and farmyards can be further discouraged by removing brush piles, stacked lumber, wood piles and similar sources of shelter which they may find inviting.
A fence can exclude skunks from landscaped areas, gardens, school yards and other such places.
One-inch poultry netting in a 3-foot width is recommended.
The bottom 12 inches should be below the ground surface, extending 6 inches down and then 6 inches outward in an "L" shape.
This will discourage most skunks from digging under it.
Only rarely will skunks climb such a fence.
Safeguard Live Trap with Cover
Live traps such as
Safeguard 24x7x8 trap w/ cover-Skunk Trap may be used to trap and remove skunks .
Packaging: 1 Trap (M 50063) with poly cover
Measures : 24" x 7" x 8" with an 1" heavy gauge wire mesh.
Covered by a 1 year warranty against manufacturer's defects.
Made in the USA.
There is obviously a special problem when trapping skunks.
Skunks don't like to spray if they can't see their target.
Safequard professional front release trap with cover, making is spray proof for trapping skunks(they spray you if they see you).
This trap cover is made of a heavy polyethylene panels which are hinged to fit over the sides and top of the skunk-sized Safeguard trap.This greatly decreases the likelihood of spraying. The covered trap blocks sun rays and protects the animal from elements. The covered trap also makes is easy to for people to transport who fear to pick up the cage with live animals in it.
Will also catch rabbits and large squirrels.
- Traps should baited with with fish (canned or fresh), fish-flavored cat food, chicken parts, bacon, or peanut butter on bread. The trap should be set in the trail immediately in front of the burrow's main entrance. Logs, twigs, boards, or stones placed on either side of a path between the burrow opening and the trap will aid in funnelling the animal toward the trap.
- All traps should be checked in the morning and early evening.
- Slowly approach the trapped skunk and cover the trap with an old blanket or piece of thick burlap, if not already set. The covered trap will be less fearful for the skunk and it will less likely discharge it's scent.
- Carefully pick up the covered trap and place it gently in the back of a pickup truck for transporting elsewhere. Avoid sudden, jarring movements or loud noises which may frighten the skunk. It is much more difficult to handle spotted skunks successfully in this manner, but striped skunks seldom release scent when these precautions are taken.
- Trapped skunks can be transported 10 miles or more and released. Some states have laws which say that a trapped skunk cannot be released elsewhere and must be killed. Check your local state regulations.
- To release a trapped skunk, stand more than 20 feet away and release the trap door using a string or fishing line. This is not generally recommended because of the potential for spreading rabies if by chance the captured animal is infected.
- Never release a skunk that shows signs of aggression, very nervous activity or salivation. It may be rabid and should be destroyed.
Safequard professional front release trap with cover, making is spray proof for trapping skunks(they spray you if they see you). This trap cover is made of a heavy polyethylene panels which are hinged to fit over the sides and top of the skunk-sized Safeguard trap.This greatly decreases the likelihood of spraying. The covered trap blocks sun rays and protects the animal from elements. The covered trap also makes is easy to for people to transport who fear to pick up the cage with live animals in it. Will also catch rabbits and large squirrels.
It is not recommended to shoot skunks, in that it often results in release of their odor. Also not recommended if the skunk needs to be captured for rabies testing.
Skunk Odor Control:
Bathing in tomato juice will help treat odors on dogs. Pour it on the dogs straight. Massage then shampoo.
A compound called Invade Bio Zap will begin to destroy malodors almost immediately upon contact, then continues to effectively capture and destroy malodors until the offending odor is completely broken down and destroyed.