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How To Get Rid Of Skunks (4- Step Removal Guide)

Are you looking to learn how to get rid of skunks?

Well then, you're in the right place!

In this guide you'll learn:

  • An overview of getting rid of skunks
  • Understanding skunks and their biology
  • Uncovering the best methods for getting rid of skunks
  • Our best choice to help you solve your skunk problem
Get rid of skunks

If you’ve ever driven down the road and suddenly encountered the terrible odor of a skunk wafting across the road and into your car through the vents, you know good and well you don’t want that odor anywhere near your house.

Everyone in the car starts fanning the air around them saying, “Phew Whew!” You might even goose the car over the speed limit a little bit (or a lot) to get past the sphere of influence as fast as possible.

But what do you do when a skunk decides that your house is his house? No one in their right mind wants to tangle with a skunk – except Fido, and then it’s break out the tomato juice! So, what do you do?

Learn a little more about skunks in this video below:

There are several ways to get rid of skunks but it’s going to take some time and effort on your part, not to mention some money.

We’re going to tell you a little bit about skunk biology so you’ll understand what they do, where you can find them, and what to expect from them. We’ll also cover the three main methods of eliminating skunks; shooting them, poisoning them, and trapping them.

There's a lot of information to cover, so let's get started!

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How Do You Get Rid of Skunks?

Trying to get rid of skunks is different than getting rid of any other animal. The reason is simple: skunks can spray that nasty odor everywhere and it takes weeks or even months to get it out of your clothes, your hair, and skin.

Skunks are normally very calm, mild-mannered, and non-threatening animals. In fact, if you remove their scent glands they can be raised to be excellent pets. But like any wild animal, they will defend themselves if they’re cornered.

The cartoon character, Pepé Le Pew, has given people the idea that skunks smell bad all the time and nothing could be further from the truth. They only spray their unmistakable odor in self-defense. The rest of the time they don’t smell all that different from any other wild animal.

The odd part is, studies have shown that skunks don’t like the odor they spray any more than people do. As soon as they spray it, they vacate the area to get away from it.

The trick then is to get rid of skunks without causing them to feel threatened enough to start spraying in self-defense. If you don’t have any outdoor pets, you might even consider leaving the skunks alone because they eat so many grubs and insects.

If they’re not threatened, they won’t spray. If they don’t spray, you’ll never notice them.

Skunk Biology

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What Do You Need To Know About Skunks To Remove Them?

Skunks are members of the weasel family and there are four different types of skunks within their group. The most common is the striped skunk, Mephitis mephitis. This is the one everybody thinks of when they picture a skunk.

The others are the:

  • Eastern spotted skunk, (Spilogale putorius)
  • Western spotted skunk, (Spilogale gracilis)
  • Hognosed skunk, (Conepatus mesoleucus)

Most of them are about the size of a house cat, although their fur sometimes makes them appear larger.

Skunks are solitary, except during mating season from mid-February to late March or early April. So, fortunately, this means that the sight of one at your home does not indicate that more are lurking.

They prefer to live alone in hollow logs or underground burrows. People who have pier-and-beam houses often find skunks living under their house.

Bobcats, coyotes, foxes, great horned owls mountain lions, and other animals will occasionally prey on skunks but never as their primary source of food.

Unfortunately, skunks are very susceptible to rabies. Since they are nocturnal, finding one walking around during the day is often a sign for rabies. If they display aggressive behavior from the moment they see you, that’s another bad sign too.

What Are The Best Ways To Get Rid of Skunks? (4 Methods)

There isn't a surefire way to get rid of skunks, as compared to other pests. You must take a different approach to ridding your property of these creatures. 

We've compiled a list of your topics/options for getting rid of skunks:

  1. Using Repellents
  2. Poisoning Skunks
  3. Shooting Skunks
  4. Trapping Skunks (Best Option)

Continue reading to see what these options are and why trapping may be your best option...

#1. Using Repellents: Can You Repel Skunks?

There are very few skunk repellents on the market today, unfortunately. We do have a list of some suggested skunk repellents, but there aren't any specifically registered skunk repellents currently in the market. 

Most of the “repellents” are home-grown remedies such as mothballs or ammonia. There hasn’t been any controlled double-blind studies to determine how effective these methods are.

Anecdotal evidence (which is still evidence) suggests they work about 75% of the time. If you’re tender-hearted and can’t stand the thought of killing skunks, you can give those methods a try.

Read also: What are the top skunk repellents available?

None of them are guaranteed 100% but they do help.

how to get rid of skunks

#2. Poisoning Skunks: Is Poisoning Skunks Legal?

As of this writing, there aren’t any legal poisons for skunks. There are some poisons that will kill them but they’ll also kill your cat, your dog, your neighbor’s pets, and pose a hazard to your and your children. In many states, Virginia for instance, it’s illegal to poison any animal except rats and mice.

This is a good safety precaution though. Since the amount of poison required to kill a skunk is the same as the amount required to kill most pets and small children, it’s simply too dangerous to leave poisons lying around where it could be picked up and eaten. 

Your intention might only be to kill skunks, but that won’t help if your neighbor’s kid winds up in the E.R.

Don’t try to duck this one. Leave the poisons alone.

#3. Shooting Skunks: Should You Shoot a Skunk?

Pulling out your trusty 30-30 and drawing down on them there varmints is quick and easy. You can kill them in a split second that way. Good for you.

Unfortunately, when animals die their sphincter muscles relax, including the sphincter muscle that keeps a skunk’s spray glands closed. The result is when skunks die they automatically release a huge cloud of spray.

Do you know that dead skunk smell that washes over the car when you’re driving down the road? You’ve just created one right near your house. Good luck getting rid of it.

The take away here is, shooting a skunk is a bad idea. It may be legal in your state. It’s certainly quick. But the aftermath could linger for months.

#4. Trapping Skunks: Is Using Traps the Best Option?

So, by the process of elimination, that leads us to trapping as the only reliable method of getting rid of skunks. Trapping can be highly regulated depending on what state you live in but it is the best method of removing a skunk from your property.

Here's a video with some useful steps and tips to trap a skunk.

Obviously, there are some issues to deal with when you’re trapping skunks, mainly, once the skunk is in there, how do you pick up the trap, transport it, and release the skunk without getting sprayed in the process?

We’ve written a separate article on the skunk traps themselves, so here we’ll look at how to keep from being sprayed.

Read also: What are the best skunk traps?

Cover the Trap

Skunks like close, tight areas that are dark. It makes them feel safe and secure. Some of the traps we talk about in our article are enclosed ones designed with that in mind.

Other traps that are wire mesh construction allow the skunk to see you approaching and start to feel threatened. You can avoid that by covering the trap with heavy canvas or a dark plastic tarp.

The dark helps keep the skunk calm and it prevents them from feeling threatened when you come to pick up the trap.

Transporting the Trap

When you’re transporting the trap to where you’re going to release the skunk, put a cover over the front of the cage when the skunk first got in. That way he is completely shut off from the outside world. What he’ll do is huddle in a corner like any other frightened animal and not move.

Incidentally, you should transport the skunk at least 10 miles away from where you caught him, otherwise, he might be able to find his way back home.

Emptying the Trap

Stand behind the trap, remove the front cover, and open the trap door. Step back from the trap and wait. After a few minutes, the skunk should emerge on his own and run off into the woods.

If he doesn’t, you’ll have to carefully pick up the back end of the trap and gradually raise it higher and higher until the skunk finally falls out. He’ll be disoriented for a moment or two, which gives you a chance to back away without appearing to threaten him.

Again, once he’s out, he’ll run off.

Final Thoughts on Getting Rid of Skunks

Getting rid of skunks isn’t hard, it just takes a little patience. You’ll have to spend some money to buy a good trap and check the trap once a day until you capture him.

Remember, skunks are solitary creatures, so after you’ve gotten rid of the first skunk, there probably won’t be anymore.

Just make sure you don't get sprayed...otherwise you'll have to use one of the skunk smell removal sprays!

Other Skunks Guides

Curious about skunk-related articles? Check out our other detailed guides to help you deal with your pest problems.

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