How to get rid of skunks quickly and effectively?
Skunks are wild animals, but they are generally harmless. Known for their foul-smelling secretion, skunks can invade your garden or patio, causing significant damage to your property or planting. In North America, there are 8 species, of which only 2 live in Canada; the striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis), the most widespread in the country and in second place the western spotted skunk (Spilogale gracilis). Fortunately, there are simple and infallible methods to keep skunks away.
What is a skunk?
The striped skunk is a mammal that belongs to the Mustelidae family. The length of this animal varies between 50 and 80 cm and its adult weight can reach 5 kg. It has a head smaller than that of a cat and a long bushy tail. Its black fur is characterized by two white oval-shaped stripes that start at the base of the tail and meet at the nape of the neck. Its head has a white groove between the forehead and the muzzle. The skunk has long straight claws that help it dig the lawn and shred wood to find larvae and worms.
Skunks generally live in forests, meadows and pastures. They can also invade our homes when they find favorable conditions. This small mammal likes to install its den in hollow tree trunks, under a garden shed, garage or in a cellar. They also take advantage of burrows abandoned by other pests such as moles and rats. Moreover, these burrows are well structured and more sophisticated than those dug by skunks. They have multiple openings and tunnels that form a real underground gallery. Skunks use leaves for their nests as well as to seal openings when they shelter during the winter.
Skunks can go outside to forage during the day, but are more active from late afternoon to late night, so they are considered nocturnal animals. In search of food, they can move within a radius of 2 km around their home or even 8 km during a single night for males!
Skunks reproduce during the spring. The female remains pregnant during 60 to 70 days and gives birth to 6 to 10 babies whose total length does not exceed 15 cm and whose weight is around 30 g. After 2 months, the little skunks start to separate from their mother to go and get food on their own.
Skunks are omnivorous. They feed on a wide variety of insect food (wasps, bees, larvae ...), mice, shrews, bird eggs, reptiles, squirrels, bunnies, seeds, fruits and vegetables ... During fall and winter, its food is proportionally meaty and vegetarian, while in summer the skunk's diet is based mainly on insects such as grasshoppers, crickets and worm larvae.
Are skunks dangerous?
Generally, skunks are solitary, peaceful and non-aggressive animals. However, if threatened, it can react by making a few growls, hitting the ground with its front paws or whistling. If the threat persists, it may begin to spread a yellowish, oily, foul-smelling liquid, hence its nickname “the stinking beast”.
The skunk can expel 6 consecutive sprays. This musk projected by two anal glands can exceed 6 meters causing eye burns, blindness and temporary nausea. The bad smell can be carried by the wind up to one kilometer!
Although 70% of its diet consists of insects and small pests, the invasion of skunks to homes and farms has harmful effects :
- They damage the lawn by burrowing, leaving conical holes comparable to the damage caused by raccoons and moles?
- They go through the garbage?
- They attack poultry houses to get rid of the eggs?
- They may be carriers of the rabies virus?
How to detect the presence of a skunk?
Unpleasant odor is the most obvious sign in your garden or yard. However, it is not the only sign that confirms or denies the presence of this small mammal, as the odor may be coming from a neighbor's house or elsewhere.
In addition, there are cone-shaped holes 7 to 10 cm in diameter and 3 to 5 cm deep. One can also see small mounds of earth created during its burial. Black droppings between 4 to 8 cm in length containing portions of insects and seeds can also be an indication of skunk presence.
How to repel skunks?
Whether it is to prevent the invasion of this stinking beast or to make it flee, we offer you the following advice:
- Plug all holes and accesses that are a refuge for skunks; you can use chicken wire to accomplish this task. ?
- Also eliminate or isolate anything that attracts skunks such as piles of wood.?
- Maintain your yard regularly by treating it against larvae, grubs and any insect that may be a food source for skunks.?
- Water skunk burrows using a water jet while keeping a safe distance to avoid any offensive reaction from the skunk. It is also recommended that you use sprinklers to water your lawn. This equipment scares off pests.?
- Clean out garbage cans to avoid odors that attract skunks. You must also close and protect them properly to prevent any pests from entering.?
- Collect fruit that falls from fruit trees such as apple and walnut trees.?
- Avoid accumulating piles of leaves and green debris as they may contain seeds or other food.?
- Install spotlights and motion detectors to scare away skunks. They are nocturnal animals and do not like light.?
- Use an ultrasonic repellent?
- Plant flowers that repel skunks and pests such as daffodils, fritillaries or hyacinths.?
- Spray with diluted vinegar where skunks might hide. Mix 1 part vinegar with 3 parts water and spray your yard regularly. You can also apply the mixture on your garbage bags when you put them outside.?
- Place human hair in skunk hiding places. This trick is to block the access to the burrows.?
Good to know : How to get rid of skunk smell?
Contrary to popular belief, tomato juice is not an effective solution to eliminate the stench of the stinking beast.
Eliminate skunk smell on clothing
You can get rid of the bad odor in clothes by washing them with detergent and half a cup of baking soda. Repeat the wash if necessary, paying attention to the discoloration of your clothes.
Eliminate skunk odor in the air
To eliminate the smell of a skunk introduced into your home, it is recommended to wash using bleach (one cup per 4.5 liters of water) and rinse immediately to prevent discoloration of walls and furniture. You are required to boil the vinegar to remove any stench in the air.
Eliminate skunk odor from your body and your pet
Take a shower by soaping your skin with a hydrogen peroxide solution (1 liter of hydrogen peroxide 3%, a quarter cup of baking soda, 2 tablespoons of dish soap and water if needed) for a few minutes or until the lather disappears. Then continue showering as usual.
For your pet, you can prepare this mixture: one liter of hydrogen peroxide, a quarter cup of baking soda and a spoonful of liquid soap. Avoid getting this solution in your eyes and wash your pet's fur well.
Need help keeping skunks away?
As mentioned previously, skunks can cause significant nuisance if they find the right conditions to live in a certain area of your home. It is therefore preferable to deal with a company specialized in extermination to ensure an effective and safe intervention. For any additional information or to plan a program of protection and/or elimination of pests, do not hesitate to contact us.