SK: RE: skunks

Royer, Cheryl RoyerC at
Thu Dec 20 11:29:03 PST 2001


Coexisting with Wildlife Fact Sheet #6
8/15/2001, The Fund for Animals<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns =
"urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

Solving Skunk Problems 

The Sweetness of Skunks 

Skunks are one of the most misunderstood wild animals. People don't
realize that the skunk is a very docile, benign animal. However, their
severe near-sightedness often gets them in trouble. Their odor is famous
and strikes fear in everyone who encounters them. A skunk's only defense
is a noxious odor created by a sulfuric acid "fired" from the anal
glands. But skunks have a limited supply of ammunition and they can't
"re-load" very quickly, so they don't waste their defensive spray.
Instead, they stamp their front feet as a warning if another creature
gets too close, giving ample opportunity for the "threat" to back off. 

Skunks have a hearty appetite for grubs, frogs, insects, mice and baby
rats. People soon find that their rodent problems disappear after skunks
take up residence. 


Q: I can smell skunk spray in my house -- what should I do? 

A: The non-toxic deodorizer Odors Away(tm) can be inexpensively
purchased at hardware stores. It will instantly neutralize any bad odor
indoors. Just put a few drops in a bowl, and place it in any room that
smells. Add a few more drops every 24 hours. 

Q: My dog has been sprayed. How do I remove the stench? 

A: There are a number of widely publicized home remedies -- such as
tomato juice -- which are ineffective at removing skunk odor. Wayward
dogs can be instantly deodorized by a simple recipe. 

For dogs, clothes, skin, etc. 
* One quart 3% hydrogen peroxide
* ¼ cup baking soda
* 1 teaspoon 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 a dark-furred animal
"rust-colored highlights." 


Q: How do I get a skunk out of my garage? 

A: Skunks commonly wander into garages when the door is left open. Open
the garage door before dusk and sprinkle an eight-inch band of flour
under it so you can watch for a track of exiting footprints. Close the
door after you ensure the skunk is gone. 

Q: There's a skunk in my window well; why doesn't he jump out? 

A: Skunks are poor climbers. If the window well is shallow (under 2
feet), place a piece of wood at an angle less than 45-degrees to serve
as a plank. For traction, tack a towel or chicken wire to the board. If
the window well is deep, place smelly cheese or canned catfood in the
far corner of an animal carrier (or plastic rectangular garbage can
tipped on its side) and slowly lower it into the window well. The skunk,
enticed by the food, will walk right in. Slowly raise the can or box to
ground level, elevator style, keeping your hands on the outside of the
container so you don't risk being bitten. The skunk will soon amble out.
Skunks have terrible eyesight and will NOT spray you if you move slowly
and talk softly. Remember, skunks also give a warning by stamping their
front feet, which gives you a chance to back off! It's vital to then
purchase or make a window well cover (out of heavy mesh) or this
situation will repeat itself. 

Q: Skunks are digging up my lawn! How do I stop this? 

A: This is a seasonal problem associated with periods of heavy rain or
over-watering. The skunks are merely digging up grubs that come close to
the surface of the soil when the ground is wet. As soon as the soil
dries, the grubs will descend, the skunks won't smell them, and grubbing
activity will cease. Although unsightly, this activity will not
permanently damage the lawn. The easiest solution is merely to wait it
out. Also, be careful not to over-water your lawn. To repel the skunks,
sprinkle cayenne pepper on the lawn, or spray a homemade mix of 1 cup
castor oil, 1 cup liquid dish soap, mixed with a gallon of water (in a
spray can) to deter the skunks from grubbing in certain areas. A
long-term solution is to purchase Milky Spore(tm), a natural, non-toxic
bacteria that will spread in the soil and kill the grubs, from a local
garden store. However, the bacteria spreads slowly and may take over a
year to work. We do not recommend commercial diazinon-based products due
to potential toxicity to children, companion animals, and the

In addition, skunks are often wrongly blamed for eating garden
vegetables. They are actually eating all the Japanese beetles, grubs and
other insect pests. To keep animals out of your garden, see the L-shaped
barrier diagram below. 

Q: How do I get a skunk family out from under my deck/shed? 

A: Skunks will take advantage of cavities under decks and sheds to raise
their young. However, they are nomadic by nature and will usually leave
when the young are old enough. The simplest option is to wait for the
skunks to leave on their own, and then seal off their entry hole with
hardware cloth. We don't recommend trapping because starving young are
likely to be left behind. You can encourage the skunks to evict
themselves sooner by spraying a repellent around your shed or poking
some ammonia sprinkled rags underneath, yet be careful not to poke the

Eviction: If you can't wait for the skunks to leave on their own: 

1) Wait a few weeks until you see the babies come out with their mother
(watch after dusk) and then seal their entry hole as illustrated below.
2) Seal up the shed (as illustrated) except for one main opening. Place
a pre-made one-way door (Sold mail-order by ACES: 800-338-ACES or
Tomahawk Live Trap Company, 800-272-8727) over that one remaining exit
and leave it in place for 3-7 days so all animals can get OUT but not
back IN. To ensure that all animals are out from under the deck before
sealing it off permanently, put a layer of flour on the inside and
outside of the door after installation, and leave it in place for one or
two nights. Any footprints in the flour should be outside the door with
none inside. Do not try this technique until the young are mobile and
start following the mother on outings. Otherwise young skunks will
starve under the deck. 
3) If the problem occurs in late summer/fall, and you're sure there's
only one animal underneath the deck, sprinkle white flour outside the
hole and check after dark for exiting footprints. You can also put
balled-up newspaper in the hole. If the newspaper hasn't moved for three
to four days, the den has been vacated. 

Repellents: The size of the denning space and the amount of ventilation
will largely influence if a repellent will work. We recommend using
ammonia-soaked rags, lights and a blaring radio to convert an attractive
space (quiet, dark, and protected) into one that is inhospitable. Here
are some repellents that have proven effective at repelling skunks under
certain circumstances: 

1. A Castor Oil Formula 
1 cup castor oil
1 cup liquid soap 
mix these 2 ingredients together, then add: 
1 gallon of water to a spray can. Spray around den area. 

2. Hot Pepper repellent* 
Ingredients: One chopped yellow onion, one chopped Jalapeno pepper, one
tablespoon cayenne pepper 
Boil ingredients for 20 minutes in 2 quarts of water. Let it cool, and
strain mixture through cheesecloth. Apply with spray bottle around the
denning area. Don't spray too deeply into the hole or the skunk may
reciprocate! It only lasts 3-5 days so you will need to re-apply if the
animals' behavior is not modified. (*This information courtesy of Jack
Murphy, Urban Wildlife Rescue, Inc.) 

3. Cayenne pepper - sprinkle around denning area 

Exclusion: THE NECESSARY FINAL STEP! After completing one of the above
steps: Create an L-shaped barrier by covering the entry hole with
hardware cloth and sinking it 4-6 inches into the ground and then bend
it at a 90-degree angle, away from the deck (as illustrated) for 8-12
inches to create a false bottom so they don't dig under the barrier.
Check the next day for signs of digging from the inside to ensure that
no skunk was sealed in. 

Q: I have a cat door and found a skunk in my house. What do I do? 

A: Try to isolate the skunk in one room by closing all doors and
erecting barriers (such as screens or boards, which gently funnel the
skunk back out the way he came in). Cat doors pose a continual problem
because skunks and other wildlife smell the cat food inside and can't
resist. We recommend eliminating cat doors altogether and training your
cats to come for food at a certain time in the middle of the day, while
nocturnal wild animals are sleeping! If you must have a cat door, either
lock them at night (remember skunks are generally nocturnal) or get the
magnetic kind which only opens when signaled by a collar on your cat's
neck (Available at RC Steele Company, 1-800-872-3773). 

Q: There's a skunk in my pool. How do I get him out? 

A: Skunks fall into pools fairly often because of their poor eyesight.
You can easily save the skunk by putting a pool skimmer or broom
underneath him. Often the skunks are exhausted from swimming and may
need some time to recover. If the skunk does not leave on his own after
two hours, contact your local state fish and game agency to locate a
wildlife rehabilitator. 

Q: I see a dead mother skunk by the side of the road surrounded by
babies. What should I do? 

A: Contact a licensed rehabilitator to help you. In the meantime, you
can put an upside-down laundry basket over the skunks so they don't
wander off, and alert the police to your efforts. 

Q: There is a skunk with a yogurt cup stuck on his head. What do I do? 

A: Unfortunately, certain yogurt cups have a very dangerous design -the
top has a small opening and rim which entraps a skunk's torpedo-shaped
head. Skunks caught in these cups soon become dehydrated and
oxygen-deprived, and starve to death. The skunk won't spray anything he
can't see, so hold the yogurt cup firmly, in a gloved hand. Upon feeling
resistance, the skunk will pull back and his head should pop out. Stand
motionless, and the skunk will not see or spray you. Another less
"hands-on" option is to put a laundry basket or milk crate over the
skunk (with a heavy rock on top) to keep him from wandering and contact
a wildlife rehabilitator. (Likewise, skunks will accidentally lodge
their heads in dumpster drain holes that aren't properly screened.
Contact a rehabilitator for assistance in this circumstance). 

Q: I set a trap for a woodchuck and caught a skunk. How do I get him out
without getting sprayed? 

A: This is a common occurrence when traps are left out all night. You
can get the skunk out without getting sprayed just by moving slowly and
talking soothingly. Remain motionless for a minute if he starts stamping
his front feet and raises his tail, and then proceed when the stamping
stops. You can drape a towel - slowly - over the trap prior to opening
it to create a visual barrier. Once the trap door is opened, the skunk
will beeline for home. If you must trap and relocate a woodchuck,
remember to close the trap at night so another skunk doesn't get trapped


Q: Do skunks carry rabies? 

A: Skunks may contract their own strain of rabies (in central U.S.) or
serve as a "spill-over" species for other variants. Since 1980, only one
human death has been attributed to the skunk strain of rabies anywhere
in the United States! According to the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, the few human deaths to rabies annually (on average 2-3 a
year, nationwide) have been largely due to domestic bat strains or
canine strains contracted overseas. It's important to take proper
precautions by calling your local animal control officer if you observe
a sick, disoriented-acting skunk in areas where rabies occurs. 

Q: There is a skunk in my yard during the daytime. Isn't the skunk

A. Even though skunks are nocturnal, they sometimes forage by day
particularly in the spring, when they have young and may be extra
hungry. If an adult skunk seen in the daytime is also showing abnormal
behaviors such as paralysis, circling, unprovoked aggression,
screeching, self-mutilation, or uncharacteristic tameness, call your
local animal control officer or police department for assistance and
keep all companion animals and children away from the animal. 

Q: There's a baby skunk running around by day. Is the baby rabid? 

A: It's possible, yet it's more likely that the skunk has lost sight of
the mother. 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 while the mother is away. Most
of the time they don't appear without her, however. An orphaned baby
will be frantic. If the skunk appears to be truly orphaned, call your
local fish and game agency to locate a wildlife rehabilitator. Keep an
eye on the skunk and keep all people and companion animals away. 

Q: Do I have to worry about my children being attacked by a skunk? 

A: 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 it is
vital to teach your child to avoid any contact with wild animals and
instead enjoy watching them from afar. 


Q: Do I need to pay a nuisance control trapper to solve my problem? 

A: 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

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: animal-proof your home by
sealing up all holes. For more information, contact The Fund for
Animals' Urban Wildlife Hotline at 203-389-4411. 












-----Original Message-----
From: Sabatino1 at [mailto:Sabatino1 at]
Sent: Tuesday, December 18, 2001 9:48 PM
To: skunks at
Subject: SK: skunks



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