Encountering a skunk
is always nerve-wracking, even in the best of circumstances. Running into a skunk as it makes its way across your yard is not the best of circumstances. Even thinking about it is anxiety inducing. Unfortunately, this anxiety-inducing scenario is more common than you might think. Skunks take up residence near homes surprisingly frequently. There may even be one living near you!
When skunks spray people, it’s usually because those people startled them
. That means skunks are most dangerous when you don’t know about them and they don’t know about you. The first step to making your skunk less dangerous is figuring out where it is. Here’s how to do that. If you identify any of these six telltale signs of skunk infestation, then there’s probably a skunk living nearby.
Skunks are omnivores and feed on a wide variety of plant and insect life. They’re particularly partial to subterranean foods, such as roots, grubs, and worms. To obtain these treats, skunks dig
small, round, cone-shaped holes in your yard or garden. These holes measure around 3 to 5 inches
across. Skunk feeding holes look distinctively circular from the surface.
Close up, you may notice that they start wide and taper inward as the skunk digs deeper into the ground. They’ll be relatively shallow. Often, you’ll find several feeding holes in close proximity, because skunks tend to search systematically. Look for these holes around areas where root systems, grubs, or earthworms are particularly likely.
Skunks have five long, plump, clawed toes on each of their four feet. Front paw pads are smaller and rounder than back paw pads. Front tracks are about an inch long and 1¼“ wide. Back foot tracks are 1 to 2” long and 1¼” wide
On both the front and back feet, toes will be about as long as the paw pads themselves. Look for these tracks in gardens and dirt near your home’s perimeter. They’re particularly visible in fresh snow and mud. Keep in mind that tracks tend to get smudged, so they may not look exactly as we’ve described them.
Disturbed dirt near the porch or deck
When skunks make burrows, they’re interested in doing as little work as possible. Ideally, they’d prefer to move into a pre-existing, abandoned burrow another animal dug. If they can’t do that, then they’d prefer to dig under an existing structure
. Pre-existing structures like porches, sheds, foundations, or rocks give them solid cover to hide under.
When skunks build burrows near homes, they usually build them under porches or decks. They dig their way beneath a low porch and use it as the “roof” of their shelter. Most skunk burrows have a single, narrow and relatively short entrance. Skunks are usually solitary animals and live by themselves, but multiple skunks may occasionally inhabit one burrow during winter. Skunks also rear their offspring inside burrows, which may make them especially defensive.
Sod is very attractive to skunks because it usually covers an abundance of grubs and roots. Skunks will dig into sod until they gain leverage. When they find that leverage, they’ll pull uneven chunks of the sod
away all at once. After feeding on the grubs beneath the sod, they’ll leave the sod upturned.
Skunks damage sod in several different ways. Sometimes, they’ll literally peel it back the same way you might. Other times, they’ll rip chunks of it away while leaving the rest intact. Skunk sod damage starts minor and grows more significant over time. Skunks also may return to the same area to feed multiple times.
Skunk droppings usually measure around ¼ to ½“ in diameter and 1 to 2” long
. They resemble cat droppings. Skunk droppings are usually tube-shaped and may come in a variety of consistencies. They can be dry and flakey, wet and mushy, or dirt-like. Notably, these droppings often contain undigested insect parts. They may also contain grass, nuts, fur, or berries, depending on what your skunk is eating.
Skunks generally deposit their droppings near where they eat, or on their way back to their dens. If you find skunk droppings in your yard, then they’re either eating or living on your property. Skunk urine is yellow, smells pungent, and may stain hard surfaces.
This probably seems somewhat obvious. Skunks are infamous for the terrible smell
of their defensive spray. Fortunately, skunks only spray when they’re startled or confronted. Unfortunately, the smell of their spray tends to linger on them and in the air for some time. The more skunks are in an area, the stronger the residual smell may be.
Skunk spray smells strongly like sulfur or rotten eggs
. It may linger on surfaces or in skunk dens. Skunks may also secrete their spray after they die. If you smell a powerful stench in your yard, it may be because a skunk is nearby.
If you think you have a skunk problem, we recommend giving us a call right away. Don’t attempt to confront your skunk or cover up its den on your own. Skunk dens may contain defenseless skunk offspring--or defensive skunk mothers!
Calling in the pros at Varment Guard
isn’t just the smartest choice, it’s also the most humane. We can remove skunks without hurting you, the animal, or your property. No matter how badly your skunk situation stinks, we’ll find a way for you to come out smelling good.