Looking to learn how to use home remedies to get rid of skunks Well then, you’re in the right place!
You don’t necessarily need to call pest control to manage these wild animals. There are plenty of DIY skunk deterrents that can keep you skunk-free the natural way, without having to call animal control.
In this guide you’ll learn:
- Skunk Biology
- Skunk Repellents
- How to Seal the Skunk’s Burrow
- How to Skunk-proof Your House and Yard
Skunks are one of the few animals who are universally detested everywhere they show up. Their malodorous presence is feared and hated by everyone who has ever had a pet come home smelling like a skunk. The stench of a dead skunk on the road is one that has people frantically fanning the air in their car and stepping on the gas to get past the spot where the despised creature met their fate.
Hints and tips on how to get rid of them are eagerly sought out by young and old alike. All this is despite the fact that skunks are actually beneficial to us due to all the insects and rodents they eat as part of their regular diet.
If you’ve got a skunk loitering about the neighborhood, or your yard, doubtlessly you want to get rid of it as soon as possible. To do that we’re going to have to delve into a little bit of their biology, habits, and habitat. We’ll have to look at skunks’ likes and dislikes to get a handle on how to drive them away.
Then we’ll go over the homegrown remedies people have created over the years to do exactly that. Some are old wives tales, others were ginned up by farmers beside themselves with worry about the possibility of being sprayed while they’re plowing the field.
There’s a lot of information to cover, so let’s get started!
Ed has been working in the pest control industry for years helping 1,000's of homeowners navigate the world of insect and rodent management. He manages Pest Strategies now helping homeowners around the world!
Table Of Contents
What is a Skunk’s Biology?
Skunks are part of the weasel family. There are several varieties of skunk but the most famous are the striped skunks that have the two large distinctive white stripes down the middle of the black fur on their back and tail. They also have a narrow white stripe on their forehead and snout. These are the ones the cartoon character Pepé Le Pew is modeled after.
Other skunks, also mainly black, have mottled white patches on them. All of them are about the size of a cat, although there are minor variations depending on which one you’re talking about. All of them also have the same basic silhouette and behavior.
Skunks are solitary creatures, living alone from each other. The only exception is during their mating season from mid-February through late March and early April. The male will travel far outside his normal range during mating season, wandering up to six miles a night in any direction looking for a female. Skunks are nocturnal, mainly moving around from sunset to just after sunrise.
After mating, the female will bear a litter of young, anywhere from two to 10 at a time. They are called kittens or kits. They will gain the ability to spray with a few weeks, sometimes even before their eyes are opened. Once they are weaned they fill follow the mother around for a couple of months learning how to hunt and survive. The mortality rate in the wild among the young is extremely high.
Once they leave their mother, that’s the last time they’ll see each other.
What is a Skunk’s Natural Habitat?
Skunks live throughout the North American continent, from southern Canada down to northern Mexico, and are adapted to live in most environments. They prefer open areas, including agricultural lands, but have been observed in wooded areas, deserts, and plains. They have also adapted quite well to urban environments and have often been found in the midst of densely populated cities. Many dog owners can attest to this sad fact.
What is a Skunk’s Diet?
Skunks are classified as predators. They will eat both plant and animal foods in fall and winter. Mice form a regular part of their diet during the winter. They’ll eat a lot more animals and insects during the spring and summer. This is when insects such as beetles, crickets, grasshoppers, and grubs are readily available. Skunks will also eat rats, rabbits, and other small animals if they’re hungry. They are also drawn by pet food and, like raccoons, are attracted to garbage cans with human food in them.
How Do Skunks Defend Themselves?
Skunks are normally mild-mannered animals and will run away if given the chance. They are easily startled though and once aroused can direct their spray with deadly accuracy up to 10 feet, and with less accuracy but still pungent affects up to 20 feet away. Skunks will stamp their front feet, arch their back, and raise their tail preparatory to spraying.
They have two scent glands inside their anus on either side and – this is gross – basically fart their spray at their target. The spray itself is an oil with a wild assort of biological chemicals in it that are sulfur-based thiols. It’s not directly harmful in and of itself, but the longer it sits on something – hair, fabric, wood, etc. – the deeper it penetrates and the hard it is to get it out.
A secondary reason for hating skunks is their known preference for eating the white grubs of Japanese beetles. Unfortunately, the grubs like to live in grassy areas such as your lawn. Skunks will dig up the ground, creating V-shaped holes all over the place. One foraging skunk can dig as many as 20 or 30 holes in your lawn in a single night.
Furthermore, they are known for digging burrows under house foundations, back decks, tool sheds, bushes, and other areas. Once their burrow is dug and they have lined it with grass and leaves, they will become very protective of it. Approaching a skunk’s burrow is a good way to get sprayed, even if all you’re doing to going into your own house.
As noted previously, skunks have a very mild temperament. As long as you don’t startle them, they’ll take any chance you give them to run away. Therefore, if you see a skunk acting aggressive, or wandering around during the day, be extremely cautious. Skunks are susceptible to rabies and abnormal behavior is one of the surest signs they’ve contracted it.
If a skunk has moved into your area, the first thing you need to do is drive him out of his burrow – without getting sprayed. Skunks have a very keen sense of smell. This has led many people to put mothballs in cloth bags, ammonia-soaked rags, or bleach-soaked rags into their burrows to repel them and keep them from coming back to their burrow.
During the day when they’re asleep, sprinkle flour or chalk dust on the ground around the entrance to their burrow. As soon as the sun goes down, begin checking the area for tracks. Once you see tracks, you know the skunk isn’t in his burrow anymore. That’s when you stuff the bag of mothballs or chemical soaked rags into it.
Check the burrow the next morning. If the rags are still in the burrow and you don’t see any tracks in the dust going into the burrow, you’ll know it worked.
Check out the video below to learn how to use pepper spray, cayenne pepper, and/or jalapeno pepper to battle your skunk problem.
How Do You Seal a Skunk’s Burrow?
Now that it is daytime when skunks are sleeping, fill the skunk’s den with dirt. You’ll have to do some digging with a shovel. Get a bag of large gravel and use it to fill the burrow in stages. Put some gravel in there, then put some dirt on it. Use a garden hose to wash the dirt down into the spaces around the gravel. Don’t go overboard! Use only enough water to wash the dirt down into the gravel. Then put in another layer of gravel followed by another layer of dirt. Use the hose to wash the dirt into it, then repeat.
Keep doing this until the burrow is filled to about six inches from ground level. Dig out a 12 to 18-inch circle of dirt around the burrow until you get down to the same level as the gravel. Lay down a circular piece of small gauge chicken wire, big enough to cover the entire hole you’ve dug around the burrow. Cover it with gravel then fill in the hole with dirt. Use the hose to wet the dirt and tamp it down hard.
Repeat this process on every skunk burrow you find. The chicken wire will hurt their feet and gums when they try to dig or chew their way through it, and the large gravel will be heavy and awkward for them to move.
Skunk-proof Your House and Yard
There are a number of steps you can take to skunk-proof your house and yard. The chicken wire is good for more than just sealing burrows. It’s also useful for keeping them out of your hard if you have a fence around it. You’ll have to do a lot of digging, but the end result will be worth it.
Dig a trench about six inches deep and 18 inches wide all the way around your fence, right up next to it. You’ll need a long piece of chicken wire, 42 inches wide. Bend it to a 90-degree angle and put 18 inches of it across the bottom of the trench and the upper 24 inches straight up along the fence. Fill in the trench, anchoring the bottom part of the chicken wire in place, then use a staple gun to attach the upper portion of the chicken wire to your existing fence. You can also use 1/4-inch galvanized cloth instead of chicken wire.
You’ll now have 18 inches of chicken wire buried six inches underground and another 18 inches sticking up out of the ground and connected to your fence. This will prevent the skunks from digging under the fence or going through it. It may take a while to get it all done, so set aside several weekends.
Conclusions and Final Thoughts
Getting rid of skunks can be a tricky business but it can be done without getting sprayed. Keeping them out of your yard requires a bit more effort, and you shouldn’t leave pet food outside at night to attract them. Once you’re done though, you can enjoy your yard without having to worry about any more skunks.