Skunks raid garbage cans, damage bee hives, eat bird eggs, and dig holes in lawns for worms, grubs, and insects. These odiferous creatures often live under dwellings (e.g. porches, crawl spaces, sheds) and cause objectionable odors.
Biology and Habits
Striped skunks (Mephitis mephitis) are nocturnal (active at night), approximately 2' long, and weight 6-8 lbs. They are slow, deliberate, and confident they can defend themselves. Skunks discharge musk from the anal gland, are capable of firing several shots, and can spray 10 - 15 feet with accuracy. Prior to spraying they usually give a warning by stomping their feet.
Skunks are omnivorous - eating both plant and animal foods. They prefer insects in the summer, and mice in the winter. The main predator of the skunk is the Great Horned Owl, which obviously has a poor sense of smell! They breed in February/March with a 7 - 10 week gestation, and usually have one litter per year. There are 4 - 6 young that stay with the female until fall. Skunks nest in ground burrows and crawl spaces. Skunks in the northern U.S. are inactive for 4 - 8 weeks during the coldest part of the winter.
Critter Control recommends installing hardware-clothe for rat-walls and sealing skunk entry holes entry holes. Electric fence may be used for site specific skunk exclusion around decks and porches. Cleaning up wood piles, brush and food sources will limit skunk habitat and reduce the attraction of skunks to the property.
Skunk trapping techniques include cage traps (covered with canvas or a blanket) for live skunk trapping, using cat-food, fish, or chicken, for bait. Live skunk trapping is the preferred method for skunk control because lethal control will usually result in release of scent. While skunks are generally mild-tempered, loud noises or quick and aggressive actions should be avoided. Keep pets and children from exciting or tormenting the caged skunk. Skunk traps are set over or near the entrance to the den. Typical entries are under porches, sheds, and crawl spaces.
Skunk Spray Remedy
Here is a recipe you can make at home, which is very effective against skunk odors. Apply the mixture directly to the sprayed surface. DO NOT store the mixture in plastic bottles.
- A hydrogen peroxide/baking soda recipe:
- 1-quart of 3% Hydrogen Peroxide
- 1/4 cup of Baking Soda
- 1 teaspoon of Liquid Soap
- Wash while it is bubbling...rinse off with tap water.