Looking to learn about the best skunk baits and poisons?
Well then, you're in the right place!
In this Pest Strategies guide you'll learn:
- All about the skunk habitat and mating habits
- The top baits we recommend for catching skunks (are there any?)
- Using skunk baits effectively (and what to do when you catch one)
- And All About Skunk Poisons
In the mind of most people, baits and poisons are the same things. It’s understandable. The confusion started with the advent of anti-coagulant baits for mice and rats that are attractive to rodents while killing them at the same time. In point of fact though, baits and poison are two entirely different things. This is particularly true with regard to skunks.
In order to successfully bait skunks, you need to know something about them; their habitat, their mating habits, and how they live. Then you can learn about baits and poisons, what they do, and how you’re allowed to use them.
There's a lot of information to cover, so let's get started!
About The Skunk Habitat And Mating Habits
Striped skunks are some of the most easily recognizable creatures in the animal kingdom. They are black with two thick white stripes running down their back and tail. They also have a thin white stripe on their forehead and nose. Their appearance has been popularized by the cartoon character, Pepé Le Pew. In biological terms, they are classified as:
Genus and Species: Mephitis mephitis
Spotted skunks are also black with white stripes on them but the strips meander about aimlessly on their coat. The pattern is different on every individual, which means there is no pattern. Their body proportions are the same as spotted skunks. They are slightly smaller but otherwise, they’re the same. Spotted skunks are classified as:
Genus and Species: Spilogale putoris
Skunks are found throughout all of North America, from Canada down to Mexico. They dig burrows in the ground live beneath people’s houses. They will live in clearings, pastures, and along the edge of the woods in hollow logs, holes in trees, or thick brush that creates a solid or semi-solid cover overhead.
Spotted skunks tend to live more in holes in trees and log while the striped variety are more apt to burrow, but there isn’t a hard and fast line on it. Researchers speculate it may have more to do with the region of the country they live than anything else.
Both kinds are nocturnal hunters, digging holes in the ground to search for grubs, grasshoppers, beetles, bird eggs, hatchlings, amphibians, reptiles, fish, and farm produce such as corn. They are widely known for digging holes in yards to get the grubs they’re after.
Skunks are solitary creatures except during mating season, which occurs between February and April. Gestation takes about 8-10 weeks. When the litter of young are born, there are between two to 10 of them, called kittens or kits. Once they’re weaned at six to seven weeks, the kits will follow their mother around for a while learning to forage and hunt. After that, they’re on their own.
Skunks are well-known for their pungent odor. The smell does not accompany them on a continual basis. Instead, it is produced from two glands located by their anus. Skunks have to lift their tail to spray it, and can accurately hit a target up to 20 feet away. Oddly enough, skunks don’t like the smell of their spray any more than we do. After spraying an enemy, skunks will leave the immediate area.
What Are The Best Skunk Baits?
The word bait means to tease, lure, or entice with food or drink. When you use bait you’re not chasing an animal. You’re trying to get them to follow an attractive scent or odor they think will lead them to something tasty.
Home recipes for skunk bait include fish-flavored cat food, bread, sardines, bacon, chicken, or peanut butter. Skunks are also attracted to some brands of “fishy” dog food.
There are no commercial skunk attractants that work any better or worse than these. The few commercial skunk baits available have poor track records and are generally used for baiting other species such as raccoons.
That said, there are no specific skunk baits we would be happy recommending.
How Do You Use Skunk Baits?
Step 1: Pick Your Bait
Mild baits such as mayonnaise or apples, in addition to peanut butter, may attract skunks without luring in the family cat. Go with one of those and you should be in good shape.
Step 2: Bait Your Trap
Skunks can be caught in live traps with a single door that is triggered by a pressure plate. When the skunk enters the trap to get the bait, they step on the pressure plate which releases the spring-loaded door. The door snaps shut and the skunk is trapped.
Before setting the trap, cover it with canvas or some other material. The darkened area will help keep the skunk calm and it will prevent them from spraying you when it is time to relocate the trapped animal.
Step 3: Release The Skunk
You should always release them at least 10 miles away from where you caught them in order to keep them from coming back.
Once you get to the drop-off site, set the cage down and give the skunk a few minutes to calm down and get over the anxiety of the trip. Carefully open the cage and back away.
The animal should come out fairly quickly. If they don’t, you may have to dump them out of the trap. Back away as soon as they touch the ground. Skunks are normally very mild-mannered animals and if you don’t threaten them they won’t spray. They’ll just run off.
How Do You Poison Skunks (Is It Legal?)
Most people don’t realize it, but skunks are protected in many parts of the United States. Even if they weren’t, currently there are no legally registered toxicants (poisons) for skunks as of this time. Illegal poisoning of skunks is usually uncovered as the result of poisoning someone’s pet and depending on what state you live in, the fines and penalties could be severe.
In many states, Virginia for instance, it is against the law to poison any animal other than rats and mice. Even live trapping of skunks (or other animals) is highly regulated in many states.
Final Thoughts On Skunk Poisons & Baits
Skunks are beneficial due to the large number of grubs and insects they eat. They won’t eradicate any of them, but they will act to keep the insect population in check. Skunks have a bad reputation due to the pungent smell of their spray but they only use it when they’re attacked by a larger predator.
Tame skunks that have had their scent glands removed actually make very good pets. If there is a skunk under your house or in the area and you’re determined to get rid of them, see our article on methods of controlling them.
Other Skunks Guides
Curious about other skunk related articles? Check out our other detailed guides to help you deal with your pest problems.