Seeing a skunk on your property probably makes you nervous. We don’t blame you—the smell from skunk spray is quite strong and it tends to linger. Learning more about skunks and their habits will help ensure that you, your family, and your pets remain stink-free. We’ve also provided a few tips on how you can keep them away from your house in the first place.
Why are Skunks Near My Home?
Skunks live in relatively simple subterranean burrows they either dig for themselves or steal from other animals. After establishing a burrow, they usually don’t wander far from home, preferring to forage for food nearby. If you see a skunk near your home frequently, then it has probably taken up residence near your property. Skunks build burrows beneath existing structures in order to use those structures for natural cover. Unfortunately, their burrow is probably underneath your porch, deck, or shed.
Skunks are enticed to build their burrows anywhere they feel safe and where they can get food easily. They’re particularly attracted to thick foliage for cover and easily-accessible garbage for food. Skunks also dig up grubs from lawns as a major source of sustenance. If you see small, cone-shaped holes in your yard, they could be left behind by skunks.
When are Skunks Active?
Skunks are nocturnal. They spend their days hunkered down in their burrows and come out at night to forage for food. They’ll usually make their way to the nearest garbage or grub source and dig in. Even at night, they'll take the most concealed, sheltered path possible on their way to and from food. They also tend to take the same routes repeatedly, because they have bad eyesight.
Do Skunks Hibernate?
No, skunks don’t hibernate. However, they can enter long, hibernation-like periods of inactivity called “torpor.” During torpor, they rest inside their burrows for long periods of time and survive on stores of fat. Skunks enter torpor during cold winters and re-emerge either in spring or on particularly warm winter days. They're more active in spring and fall, when it’s cool enough for them to move around without overheating.
How Can I Avoid Being Sprayed By a Skunk?
Skunks spray when they feel threatened or startled. Contrary to popular belief, it’s actually relatively difficult to get a skunk to spray you. In most circumstances, if you stay out of their way, they’ll stay out of your way.
Never corner, threaten, or otherwise bother a skunk, even if it’s near your home. If you see a skunk, stay out of its way and, if necessary, call in the pros.
After coming out of torpor, skunks are usually sluggish and even less aware than usual. If you accidentally approach a skunk, it might spray in surprise when you startle it. Avoid this unfortunate scenario by giving skunks and skunk burrows a wide berth.
How Do I Keep Skunk Away From My Home?
Skunks want to hunker down somewhere with a covered, private place to live where there’s plenty of food nearby. To keep them away from your home, try your best to limit their access to food and shelter. Here’s how:
Screen Off Low Shelters
Around homes, skunks dig under porches, decks, stairs, sheds, and mobile home entrances very frequently. These areas provide them with existing overhead cover that helps them feel secure.
Use chicken-wire or wire mesh fencing to restrict skunk access to these locations. Make sure you dig the mesh several inches under the structure to keep skunks from simply digging beneath it. If skunks can’t find sturdy cover to dig beneath, they’re far less likely to dig their burrows near you.
Like many pest animals, skunks feel more comfortable approaching messy properties. They’ll use brush, shrubs, fallen branches, and other clutter as cover to make their approach. The more hidden they feel, the easier it’ll be for them to move toward you.
Try to keep your lawn as clear and open as possible, even during the winter time. Pick up fallen branches, twigs, garbage, or leaves. The idea is to make skunks feel exposed as they move across your lawn. The less you can give them to hide behind, the better.
Clear a Perimeter
Skunks move around homes by sneaking through bushes and shrubbery. The closer these plants are to your home, the better a “path” they provide for navigating around your property.
Keep any ornamental plants near your home neatly trimmed back. Try to prevent any branches or leaves from physically touching the structure itself if possible. Ideally, you should keep two inches or more away from the house. Keeping a clear perimeter around your home will make your yard far less appealing to skunks. It’ll help deter other pests, too!
Skunks are opportunistic foragers, meaning they’re not exactly picky eaters. Skunks will climb inside or knock over garbage cans to get at any food material left inside.
There are several ways to secure your garbage from skunks. First, keep all garbage in airtight, sealed plastic bags. Rinse out food and beverage containers before you throw them out. Finally, secure the lid of your cans or dumpsters themselves when you’re not using them. If skunks can’t get at your garbage, they won’t be able to find food around your home nearly as easily.
Control Turf Pests
Skunks’ favorite food by far are subterranean grubs that feed on root systems. Skunks will dig into turf or even roll it away to get at these grubs, damaging your lawn in the process. Grubs are especially prevalent in the early to mid spring. Skunks will also dig to eat earthworms and roots.
The best way to prevent grubs is to practice diligent lawn maintenance. Keeping your lawn healthy and strong will help prevent grubs from feeding on. You could also use pesticides or nematodes to eliminate the grubs and disincentivize them from coming back.
Remove Food Sources
Grubs may be a skunk’s favorite food source, but they’re far from a skunk’s only food source. The truth is, skunks will eat just about anything they can get their snouts on.
Try to identify any possible food sources that may be strewn around your yard. Look for and clean up bird seed, fallen fruits, leaves, and twigs, pet food, seeds, nuts, berries, and more.
We Skunk Out the Skunks!
If you see a skunk burrow on your property, don’t try to remove it yourself. Not only is that a good way to get sprayed, but it’s also disruptive and ineffective. Instead of trying to solve your skunk problem yourself, call in Varment Guard. Our experts can safely and humanely remove skunks without hurting them or your yard.