Skunks

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Habitat modification

Skunks are attracted to things like garbage and pet food left out at night and convenient denning sites, such as wood and rock piles, elevated sheds, openings under concrete slabs and porches, and crawl spaces under houses. Preventive measures such as removing attractants around houses will decrease the likelihood of an unpleasant skunk encounter. These measures include securing trash and feeding pets indoors (or if fed outdoors, removing food immediately after pets eat). Skunks also dig for grubs in lawns when wet soil conditions push grubs close to the surface. When the soil dries, the grubs move deeper, so the problem can generally be stopped or prevented in the first place by not overwatering lawns.

Preventing Denning (Exclusion)

Exclusion techniques should be used proactively to prevent denning before an animal moves in. A suspected skunk den should first be checked to determine if it has a current resident. This may be done by loosely filling the hole (or holes) with soil, leaves, straw, crumpled paper, or similar material. If a skunk is present, the animal will easily push his way out overnight and reopen the hole.
If the plug remains undisturbed for two or three nights (and it is not winter, when the skunk may be inactive for long periods), it is safe to assume that the hole is unoccupied and can be filled.

You can permanently exclude skunks (and other den-seeking creatures) with an L- Shaped footer of welded wire or similar barriers. If a skunk is using the den, either harassment or eviction using a one-way door system is recommended. It is imperative to be sure that dependent young are not present in the den. When in doubt, assume they are and consider using the door after they start following their mother to forage. Leave the door in place for two or three nights to a week to be sure the skunk has left.

Harassment

When it is safe to displace skunks, mild harassment can be very effective.This can be as simple as loosely repacking the den hole with leaves or straw or other material to see if the skunk gets the message and moves elsewhere. A couple of hours before dusk, adding light and noise to make an attractive (dark, quiet) space unattractive may help as well. Make sure the skunk is not close by before placing the disturbing stimulus.

About Repellants

Repellants may also be effective in getting rid of skunks. Mild repellents such as used kitty litter can be placed near or inside the den to one side so the skunk has to pass them to get out; commercial or homemade capsaicin or castor oil repellents may also be effective. Some repellents that are advertised and sold to deter skunks from yards are predator urine products that we believe are inhumane and inappropriate for use. Others, such as the powerful capsaicin-based "hot sauces," must be used with extreme care because of the consequences for both people and pets who may inadvertently come into contact with them.

Skunk in Garage

Skunks who have wandered into a garage can simply be allowed to wander back out by making sure the door is open before dusk. Skunks are nocturnally active, so opening the door at dusk and closing it later in the evening is likely to be a solution to this problem. It is important to make sure the skunk has not been coming and going for long enough to have established a den and given birth, and that any accessible foods (bags of bird seed, for example) have been moved and secured in tightly sealed containers.

Removal from a Window Well

It is not uncommon for a skunk, thanks to weak eyesight, to stumble into a window well and become trapped because of their poor climbing abilities. If a skunk becomes trapped in a window well or similar steep-sided pit, provide a means of escape. Place a rough board (or one with cleats, carpet, toweling, chicken wire, or other material to give the animal traction) that is long enough to serve as a ramp out of the well. Skunks are poor climbers, so the board should lean no steeper than a 45-degree angle. Trying to stay out of sight of the skunk, slowly and carefully lower the board. If possible, a second person with a vantage point high enough to see the skunk (perhaps from an upstairs window) can warn of any signs of agitation. Another method of placing the board is to tie it to the end of a long pole and lower it by holding the opposite end of the pole. Once the board is placed, keep people and pets away from the area until nightfall, when the skunk should leave. If the skunk cannot climb out due to the well's depth or steepness, we recommend a technique that involves a plastic rectangular garbage can and smelly cheese. Place the cheese at the bottom of the can and lower it on its side with the open end facing the skunk. Once the skunk enters and begins to dine, carefully tilt the can up a bit, raising it elevator style out of the window well, then gently tip it on its side again so the skunk can amble out. Regardless of how you end up getting the skunk out, prevent the situation from recurring by installing covers over window wells.

Is that Skunk Rabid?

Even though skunks are mostly active at night, they sometimes look for food by day, particularly in the spring when they have young and may be extra hungry. Don't be concerned if you see an adult skunk in the daytime unless she is also showing abnormal behaviors like:

  • Limb paralysis
  • Circling
  • Boldness or unprovoked aggression
  • Disorientation, staggering
  • Uncharacteristic tameness

Don't approach the skunk yourself. Call your local pest control (in London that would be "Wild Things") for assistance.

Neutralizing Odours

The traditional remedy for a "skunking" is a tomato juice bath.To neutralize the smell, however, the chemicals in the spray must be changed into a different type of molecule, and tomato juice does not do that. Tomato juice can, along with vinegar and any other mildly acidic solution, wash off the oily spray to at least reduce the smell.

Recommendations for Removing Odour

Commercial products are available from veterinary and pet supply outlets, but for a home remedy that will neutralize skunk spray odor on dogs, skin (not eyes), and some clothes, mix:
1 quart of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide
1/4 cup baking soda
1 teaspoon liquid soap (laundry or dishwashing soap)


Wearing rubber gloves, use immediately and outdoors, if at all possible, to keep the volatile skunk spray out of your house. Rinse after five minutes and repeat if needed.

Warning: Do not store this mixture. Use it immediately after mixing. If left in a closed container, the oxygen gas released could make the container burst. This mixture can bleach fur and hair color.

Clothes or other fabric items sprayed directly may be best thrown away. Fabric that picked up the smell indirectly, as well as buildings and similar surfaces, can be washed with one cup of liquid laundry bleach per gallon of water (This may bleach colours).
Commercial products containing neutroleum alpha will also neutralize the odour. It is best to consult your physician for treatment if you are sprayed in the eyes. But you can ease the discomfort by liberally flushing eyes with cold water. Skunk odors inside are usually caused by occupancy beneath the house or a discharge outside an open window. During courtship, skunks may be more prone to lose control of their normal scent management patterns. There are odour neutralizers on the market that work with amazing effectiveness to eliminate the stray skunk smells that might need occasional attention.