Of all the common wildlife you may run across in your neighborhood, the skunk is probably your least favorite. We don’t blame you; skunk spray is infamous for a reason. It really does smell that bad, and the smell tends to linger.
If you ever see a skunk on your property, you’ll want to know a couple of things immediately. Here are answers the questions that will race through your mind next time you see a skunk. Knowing this info will help you stay safe and keep them away in the long run.
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. 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. Basically, skunks come near you when your home or lawn gives them a nice place to live.
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. When foraging, skunks never range far from their burrows unless they have a line on a
Skunks don’t hibernate, but 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 them, even if it’s near your home. If you see a skunk, stay out of its way and, if necessary, call in the pros. Don’t try to approach or fill in burrows, either.
When skunks spray homeowners, it’s usually because the homeowner accidentally startled the skunk. Skunks have poor eyesight and somewhat poor situational awareness, so it can be easy to accidentally sneak up on them. After coming out of torpor, they're 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 can I keep skunks away from my home?
To review: skunks want a covered, private place to live where they can get plenty of food nearby. If you make sure they can’t get those things around you, then they won’t choose to live near you. First, try to restrict their access to good burrowing places. Screen off the bottom of decks, porches, and sheds with wire mesh. Make sure you dig the wire mesh down into the ground so they can’t burrow past it.
Next, you’ll have to restrict skunk food sources as much as possible. Start with your garbage. Tie down your dumpster with a bungee cord whenever you aren’t using it. Keep all garbage in airtight, sealed plastic bags, even when it’s in the dumpster. Make sure you don’t let garbage accumulate over time. You should also clear as much clutter around your lawn as possible. The less cover skunks have to hide behind, the less comfortable they’ll feel on your yard.
If you see a skunk burrow on your property, we recommend against attempting 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. Next time you’re worried about a skunk, don’t be! Just call us.