Protect Your Family and Pets from Skunks and Skunk Spray
Are skunks making your yard and house their home? As a common nuisance animal in California and North America in general, skunks plunder through your property looking for food, water, and shelter.
Skunks have public health concerns such as carrying rabies and transmitting diseases to humans and pets. Not only this, but skunks can also wander into your yard or garden to dig through sod, causing time-consuming damage.
The typical skunk population is not known to be aggressive animals unless they feel threatened. This means curious pets or children could potentially upset a skunk, making them a dangerous wildlife animal to be on your property. This can also increase the chance of a skunk spraying or biting.
Continue reading to learn additional information about what attracts skunks to your yard and tips for controlling skunk infestations. Our team of Pest Control Professionals have helped many families live free of worrying about skunks or other wildlife animals.
Top 4 Signs of a Skunk Invasion
Skunks are commonly known for their unpleasant smell. This is often a sure sign that they are around, but it not always a sign for concern. Skunk spray can reach and spread a decent distance from where it actually occurred. If smelling skunk spray happens more than once in a short time period, consider preventative actions
➁ Tracks & Droppings
Skunks have very unique paw prints in comparison to over similar-sized animals, which makes identifying them easier. A skunk’s prints are explained further in the next section. A skunk’s droppings look and are a similar size to that of a cat’s. The main difference is that skunk droppings contain undigested foods like seeds, feathers, berries, or insects
➂ Ground Depressions
Skunks search for food in yards by digging little three to four inch half-moon shaped depressions into the ground. Similar to raccoons, they will damage the sod on lawns.
Seeing a skunk is an obvious sign of a problem. If you see a skunk during the day, it is possible that they have rabies, which should be looked into immediately.
What Attracts Skunks to My Yard?
Like other wildlife animals, agriculture and natural resources that are readily available are attractive to skunks. Skunks are attracted to food, water, and shelter. Skunks eat fallen fruit, birdseed, ground worms, grubs and other insects, berries, corn, and more
There are many things around your property that can attract skunks such as dog and cat food left outside for pets. Skunks will also be drawn to chicken coops, and are capable of killing chickens and eating their eggs.
Skunks prefer to nest in dark, warm areas. If they are unable to find or use burrows from other animals or make their own, they will seek other areas for shelter. This is why they are often attracted to residential areas because of the availability of resources.
Skunks will make nests and homes out of your crawl space, shed, basement, and underneath decks and porches.
Skunk Identification and Facts
There are two types of skunks, the striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis) and the spotted skunk (Spilogale putorius). The striped skunk, as the name implies, has a black body with a narrow white stripe between the eyes reaching to the forehead, and two wide white stripes splitting down the back and tail. A striped skunk is the size of a domestic cat, while a spotted skunk is half this size. A spotted skunk is black with random white markings either in spots or zigzag streaks on both the back, sides, and tail.
Both the striped skunk and the spotted skunk have sharp claws on their front feet for digging. Their tracks are unique from other similar-sized wildlife animals, as their front and hind paws look entirely different.
The front paws can be compared to a cat, but with notably longer claws that show in their paw prints, as they do not retract like cat claws. Skunks also have five toes, while cats have four toes. Their back paws are completely different, as they could resemble a tiny human foot, but with claws. These back claws are shorter than the front claws.
Being nocturnal animals, skunks are active during dawn, dusk, and nighttime. Striped skunks can be active during the daytime if they are in urban and suburban public areas, or sometimes if they have rabies, and lose their fear of humans. Spotted skunks are seldom seen during the daytime.
Skunks do not hibernate during the winter, and for shelter they often form communal skunk burrows under decks, porches, or buildings. Skunks mate in January and February to have 4-6 baby skunks, or “kits,” per litter.
It is also important to keep watch during the months of January to March, as this is mating season for skunks. Female skunks are pregnant for 60 days, and give birth to baby skunks typically in April or May. This means that mothers will be looking for a nest during this time.
Skunks are most commonly known for their repulsive smell. This can be caused by a skunk being frightened, a dead skunk, or a male skunk spraying to fight another male over a female skunk during mating season.
A skunk’s spray can reach up to 10 feet away and they usually give a warning when they are about to spray. This warning includes stamping their front feet, arching their tail forward over their back, and hissing.
So thankful to have found All N One’s website while looking up how to get rid of skunks. My dog kept trying to mess with a skunk that was hanging around our house. I called All N One and when they came out they told me that there were skunks living under my front porch! They did a great job taking care of the issue.
Avoid the Stink! Get rid of skunks and their stink now!Act Now!
Public Health Concerns and Safety Risks
One of the most common health risks associated with skunks is carrying rabies. Not all skunks show symptoms of rabies, but this does not mean that they do not carry the disease. Rabies can be transferred to pets or humans through bites or by ingesting skunk droppings.
However, it is important to note that skunks are not typically aggressive animals unless they feel threatened. This means that prodding pets are more likely to scare skunks, increasing the chance of a bite or getting sprayed.
Other diseases that can be carried and transmitted by skunks are most commonly leptospirosis, Q-fever, tularemia, canine distemper, canine hepatitis, and listeriosis. All of these diseases can be carried by skunks without significant or identifiable symptoms.
Skunks and other wildlife animals also have the possibility of carrying ticks, fleas, lice, roundworm, tapeworm, and more. All of these can affect humans and pets, so if a substantial skunk infestation is detected, it is recommended to be aware of these diseases and to check for them if necessary.
Skunks are especially a danger to pets, as their spray can cause burning of the eyes as well as temporary blindness. Luckily, it has not been found that skunk spray itself carries diseases.
If your pet was sprayed, this does not mean that will contract a disease, unless they were bitten as well. Regardless, it is still recommended that they be checked out by a veterinarian following a skunk spray.
If you find yourself in an encounter with a skunk, avoid sudden movements as this could startle them causing them to spray.
Helpful Tips for Skunk Odor Removal
Though it is a popular belief that tomato juice will get rid of skunk odors, it only masks the smell temporarily. It would be easiest to prevent it entirely, but skunks are common and so is getting sprayed. It is most likely that your pet will be the one getting sprayed
If this does happen, here is a solution for skunk odors that has been reported as effective:
- 1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide
- 1/4 cup of baking soda
- 1 teaspoon of liquid soap or detergent
This mixture has been said to change and breakdown the composition of skunk spray. It is recommended to heavily dilute the leftovers of this mixture with water before pouring it down the drain. This mixture is safe to use on people, pets, clothing and furniture, but is advised to keep away from the eyes.
Top 8 Signs of a Skunk with Rabies
- Confusion or disorientation
- Being oblivious to nearby noises
- Leg paralysis or difficulty walking
- Fearlessness of people or pets
- Considerable aggression
- Loud or unusual sounds
- Foaming at the mouth
- Wandering during the daytime
Proven Wildlife Controland Skunk Removal Strategy
➀ Free Wildlife Animal Inspection and Estimate
You can count on All N One Pest Eliminators to be at your home with 24 hours of your first call. Your specialist will speak with you and determine where and how to inspect your pest concern. After inspection, your skunk control specialist will be able to decide the treatment options moving forward, as well as an estimate for you to review.
➁ Skunk Cage Trap Placement
With our Skunk Wildlife Control Strategy in place, our pest control technicians will immediately start the treatment. Depending on your current pest problem, your skunk control professional may suggest using humane wildlife bait, lures and traps. Rest assured, we will always use the most environmentally friendly products trap skunks on your property. We will take every precaution to keep your family and pets safe before, during and after your skunk control treatment.
➂ Treatment Monitoring and Wildlife Removal
Once the live traps have been placed to capture skunks, our technician will monitor the trap for activity. Our control operator will monitor these so that the skunks can be trapped and removed from your property. If the skunk infestation is reoccuring, your technician may need to make multiple visits.
➃ Skunk Exclusion Work
In order to ensure that your house is secure from all pests and wildlife, All N One will go through exclusion work to protect your property. Exclusion work includes sealing entry points and blocking areas that may been attractive to skunks, such as underneath decks, porches, sheds, crawl spaces, and more. This will occur either before or after the treatment, depending on where the pests are located. Blocking entry points and excluding skunks too early may trap them from getting out, so we make sure of the appropriate time to do it.
➄ Wildlife Prevention
Treating the immediate skunk problem is only one part of protecting your home from unwanted animals. Addressing why your home was targeted by skunks and where they gained access to your property is essential. This provides an effective skunk control treatment, and protects your property from future skunk invasions. Our control operator will locate potential areas of attractive agriculture and natural resources and access points to make suggestions of preventative measures.
My kids play outside in our front yard a lot and told me they kept seeing skunks around the cul de sac before coming in for dinner. We haven’t had any issues in the backyard, so this was news to us. We called All N One and they came out the next day to check it out.
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Over the CounterSkunk Prevention Solutions and Limitations
In the event of repelling skunks, the at-home prevention methods are few and far between. There are no registered or effective poisons for skunks, no proven skunk repellents, and only a few commercial products are available to purchase that have not been effective overall.
Here are some of the claimed skunk prevention treatments, as well as some measures that actually can work:
A commonly suggested treatment for deterring skunks are using strong odors. More specifically, ammonia is used beneath buildings to drive skunks out. This can also be dangerous if placed under or near buildings as the fumes can enter the building and affect those inside. However, it should be recognized that skunks themselves smell strongly when they spray, and this factor does not stop them from doing it.
Fences and Wire Mesh
Though skunks have long claws, this does not mean that they are the best climbers. Skunks can climb on objects with a lot of grip that are not steep. This means that fences are a viable option for skunk control. However, it is important to note that these fences will need to be placed at least six inches underground to keep skunks from digging underneath them. Wire mesh can also help to keep skunks out of entry points.
A good way of making your property unattractive to skunks is to manage how many insects and small critters there are. Skunks dig in search of grubs and other insects, and will leave if they do not find any.
Traps can be a good option when managing a skunk problem. It is recommended that a plastic box trap is used instead of a classic wire cage trap to decrease the chance of getting sprayed. If a live cage trap is the only option, it is possible to use without getting sprayed. To remove skunk, put an old blanket or protective cover over half of it. Once the skunk is captured, the entire trap can be then covered to put the skunk in darkness. Skunks are more calm and less likely to spray when it is dark.
Blockade & Exclusion
Block entry points once you are sure that there are no skunks stuck inside. To ensure this, you can use a one-way swinging gate so the skunks can get out but cannot get back in.
Habitat modification is more of a preventative skunk treatment, as it requires reducing or completely removing a skunk’s access to food, water, and shelter. This will be explained in detail in the following section.
Damage Control Tips to Prevent Skunks and Future Infestations
- Securing your trash can with bungee cords or weights on top
- Performing frequent lawn care to avoid having hiding places for skunks
- Throwing away fallen produce and seeds from trees and vegetable gardens
- Avoiding a accessible water source by fixing leaky outdoor spouts
- Installing electric fences or wire mesh around gardens
- Closing pet doors at night, including ones located in the garage
- Protecting or removing access to fallen bird seed
- Removing pet food source from outdoors
We have a chicken coop in our backyard and we noticed that the number of eggs we usually get didn’t add up. We looked up information on how this could happen and we learned from All N One’s website that skunks could be the culprit, and they were! Luckily our chickens were unharmed by the skunks.
Wildlife Damage Management
With the listed over the counter skunk methods, it may seem reasonable to take matters into your own hands. However, even though the wildlife damage property, it is important to consider the legal status of each wildlife animal in your area.
There are certain wildlife animals that are protected by law, so it is highly suggested to take this factor into account when using at-home critter methods and control products (such as live traps) instead of control companies.
To combat this issue before it happens, be sure to identity what might be attracting wildlife to your property. Animal control is more effective when it starts with prevention. This will also be beneficial in damage control, as removing food, water, and other agriculture and natural resources ensure that wildlife are not drawn to invade your property.
Along with the skunk damage control tips listed above, it is very important to not feed skunks or other wildlife that come on to your property. Feeding these animals makes them view you as a resource. As a result, skunks will continue to travel and attract other wildlife animals to your home if fed.
You may feel responsible to care for a hungry or hurt animal, but it is highly advised to not make contact with wildlife. Pest control professionals know the best way to help and redirect wildlife, so contacting them after continuous wildlife sightings is recommended.
In California, skunks are classified as “nongame animals” by California Department of Fish and Wildlife. This means that a property owner may kill a skunk in any legal way if it is threatening or injuring the property. However, shooting or killing a skunk using other means will most likely cause it to spray in the process.
Relocation of skunks is not legal because skunks are one of the most common carriers of rabies in California, and this puts other people and animals at risk of infection and spreading of the disease.
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