How to Get Rid of Skunks
Skunks tend to live as close to a food source as possible, so be careful to not inadvertently provide food sources for them. Skunks eat insects, grubs, garbage, bird seed, fruit, vegetables and small mammals.
In a residential area skunks usually make a home under a garden shed, in a wood pile, a rock pile or in a ditch. Skunks are nocturnal and are rarely seen during the daytime hours.
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Skunks mate in late winter, early spring with a gestation period of 63 days. A litter of skunks can be as few as two or as many as ten babies. The babies are usually born in late April or early May and will remain with the mother all summer long. They finally leave home in the fall.
Skunks foraging for food can do a lot of damage to your lawn digging up clumps of grass at a time or rolling back large areas of sod. Skunks really like Japanese Beetle grubs so if you have a skunk doing considerable damage to your lawn chances are you have a grub problem and the grubs are quietly doing as much if not more damage to your lawn.
I made a movie about how to get rid of Japanese Beetles and Grubs. Check it out!
Treat your lawn with an grub control product to eliminate Japanese Beetle grubs. Skunks love fruit that has fallen
to the ground, keep the area under fruit trees raked up.
Fence in your vegetable garden, skunks are poor climbers and won’t be able to scale the fence. However, they can
dig under the fence so bury the fence about 12″ in the ground.
If you suspect you have a skunk under a shed or in a wood pile you have a few options. You can catch them
in a live trap, but in most states it’s illegal to relocate them because they carry rabies and other disease. Consult
with your local animal control office for advice in this area. Skunks are fairly easy to trap because they will
go to great lengths when they smell peanut butter, bacon or any other food with a strong aroma.
Use a trap designed for skunks so they don’t have enough room in the trap to get into a spraying position.
Another option is to make them feel unwelcome. Skunks do not like bright light. I’ve heard of people shining
bright lights under the shed and or playing talk radio for them. However, lights are a fire hazard and an electrical
The better option is to wait until the skunk has left the den and then you can seal the den off with wire screen
that closes off the opening and is buried at least 12″ into the ground. Skunks typically come out right at dusk and stay
out most of the night. Think about the timing of your efforts. From May until late August there could be young in the den all night long.
Not sure if the skunk has left yet? During the daytime sprinkle baking flower around the area then you can check for tracks after dark and know that the skunk is out and about.
I hope this helps!
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Burying a chicken wire fence 12″ deep didn’t help as they came back this year a dug under it and accessed last years den. I put out a 90 watt light on a timer and pointed it right at the entrance, I see now that they came out. Don’t know what I’ll find tomorrow morning as I filled the whole again and soaked rags with ammonia and put them around the area. However, if mama is in there with babies and doesn’t relocate them then what am I to do.
Mothballs, mothballs and more mothballs. Cannot stress that enough. Put mothballs under buildings and any place you suspect to be their nesting place. Mothballs in a closed space makes it hard for animals to breath. Not only that, they take the smell of skunk away. Skunks will immediately leave and be gone as long as the odor of the mothball is still there.
Thanks for the information everyone. I have a question. How deep will skunks dig to find a place to live such as under the foundation? Is it more than 12 inches (as in how far to bury a fence around your garden)?
Susan, that’s a good question. I would think that a fence 18″ deep should do the trick. Skunks are not overly ambitious.
FRED BOSKO says
WOW,do i have a problem.
A few years back i had a box of NIGHT CRAWLERS left at the end of the Fishing season,a friend told me to just dump then on the LAWN. Now for the last couple of years and this year my LAWN is so LUMPY,its unbelievable and irritateing to walk on.Please can someone HELP with a suggestion as what i can put into the GRASS that will kill them / Forget about picking them ,that is NOT a solutrion as they multiply faster than Rabbits.Thank you.
Fred, are you sure the night crawlers are making your lawn lumpy? Doesn’t sound right to me. I’m thinking moles or voles. -Mike McGroarty
I’ve dealt with many rodents and yard critters over the years. This is going to sound crazy but it works tried and true. I’ll fart into several mason jars over the course of a few weeks and keep them sealed tight. Then I can just uncap one and put it in their dens and they leave immediately. Taught to me my my grandma over 40 years ago now. Great site! Hope this helps!
Do you know where I can buy Milky Spoors?
Home Depot or Lowe’s has Milky Spoors
Robert Gardner says
Great article, lots of good information. Thanks
@ joey wolf, that was so damn funny, i laughed out loud. ive had many bad neighbors in my life, and i firmly believe they all need the gift of a free skunk. im still laughing. hilarious.
Sharon Smith says
I liked your video on the Japaneese Beetles it was very informitive. The skunk article was good and their was some things that I wasn’t aware of myself.
First step is to be very careful!!!!
The last step is to be very careful!
Mike filled in the middle steps.
Whatever you do, Don’t shot at them! We had an incident in my area just recently where someone thought they saw a skunk in their backyard and shot at it. The tragedy was that it was a little girl in a black costume with a white tassle. (And it was their cousin!)
Rose Mattice says
Thank you for all the e-mails you have sent me and all the info on plants, etc. If you
send me an article that I want to keep, I’ll
print a copy of it and file in my gardening
folder and can always refer back to them if
I need the information regarding a certain
Beth Bush says
One summer night I was sitting on my front porch in the dark when a neighbor walked by with his dog. All of a sudden, I hear the guy start hollering, “no, No, NOO!” I am thinking, what the heck? Well I heard a rustling, and before I could blink, there was a skunk sitting next to my chair! (between me and the door)
Soo I didn’t move but started talking softly to it. We visited for about a half hour until he was calm enough to wander off. Phew!!!
Mary paquette says
We have a lovely Albino skunk, that strolls thought our backyard every summer for years now, It has made friends with our cat! We call him El Blanco.
Roger Gardener says
Moles and voles are wreaking havoc in my lawn and garden. None of the folk remedies or electric or battery powered gadgets have any effect.I’m past caring about being humane. My cat occasionally lays a carcass at my door … she is my only ally. This is war. Do you have anything for me?
Roger, remove their food source. If you do that, they will leave.
The grubs? Like in the Japanese beetle? Or what else do they eat?
If they are digging in your lawn the skunks are eating grubs. Once I treated my lawn for grubs the skunks moved on.
A few years ago I was living in a house where a skunk got underneath the living room area. The smell was killing me in the daytime. I got Critter Ridder from Lowes and where his entry hole was I threw some of the Critter Ridder as far under the house as I could and sprinkled some at the entry hole and also around the entire house. It’s supposed to smell like a predator to them and they go live somewhere else. I also found some fox hair in my yard and put that at the entry hole. And during the day I literally stomped on the floor as I walked. Whatever it was – the noise in the day so it couldn’t sleep, or the Critter Ridder, it worked. Once I was sure he was gone from under the house I sealed the hole, but kept sprinkling Critter Ridder around the house every week or so.
A couple yrs ago we got a pup. We have a big yard and a chain link fence around most of it so we just had the rest finished off and the pup can run to his heart’s content. Well we have skunks that used to visit and clean the grubs out of my lawn and in the am when you looked out the lawn looked like a ww1 battle field with all the holes.But grubs gone also. Anyway, after we go the fence finished he would walk it trying to find his lunch wagon. Low and behold, we were watching one night and he and the pup had made friends, ec nite they would walk the fence togeather. When it turned at the conor they would both turn and walk to the end of it. He has managed to dig his way in a couple of times and they don’t bother ec other but the pup is brought in anyway, Just in case. There has been another enormous skunk that has been through out the neighbor hood for a num of yrs now. BEAUTIFUL! We all call him grampa. Moth balls really do help but make sure your own animals can’t get to them.
Barb Studdard says
OMGosh! The closest I have even gotten to a skunk is I saw it eating the cat food once very long ago. But don’t care if I ever see one again. But if I do Mikes article will come in handy. Thanks Mike!
Mark FitzPatrick says
If you have rabbits you don’t have skunks because rabbits and skunks don’t like each other and rabbits can’t smell skunk so the rabbits chase the skunks away,but cats love to kill rabbits. I have rabbits(wild) and cats(in the house most of the time) but no skunks.
Linda Nelson says
It seems like this year, since we have a cat that has killed most of the rabbits, we have skunks. Every day, all day. It’s also been a very wet spring and we haven’t been able to mow the yard. We have 13 acres and now the grass is almost too tall to cut. The skunks love it.
jim neal says
we had skunks and groundhogs under 2 8×10 barns. we took used kitty litter and put it around the base of the barns and we haven’t had any more problems.
Do you use the dirty litter so they smell them I’m guessing. I’m gonna do that. And see if we can rid if those critters. Stunk up the place and I want the groundhog to move out. I just found his hole
Joey Wolf says
Oh my! What a timely article. My neighbors feed a dozen cats outside their back door. They are also feeding 2 skunks and an opossom. I have told them, and suggested they pick up the cat food at night….they are too lazy to do this. They also leave their back porch door open most of the time……I suppose it would be morally wront to toss a little kibble in the back door……but I will take perverse pleasure in it, should the skunk take a wander through their home without my encouragement. I have seen the opossom and the little skunk on our deck….drinking the water I was leaving out for the dog….he drinks inside now. The big skunk was spotted heading across the front yard.
Crows also ruin a lawn when looking for grubs. Our yard and the one across the street was all torn up. The grass is easy to pull up because the roots have been ruined by the grubs. I watched the crows dig and toss the lawn pieces. Entertaining, but highly annoying.
I caught a skunk by accident in a large hav-a-hart trap (hoping for rabbits). It was easy to let it go (as per Mike’s instructions) by putting beach towels on top, carrying it to the new location (our back yard in this one’s case) and propping the door open. He waddled off, unconcerned. I still smelled sweet.
The odor from a skunk is clingy. Call me crazy, but I skinned a skunk once.
At the time, I was a park ranger. I found a skunk that had been hit on the highway—no apparent injuries, no blood, just a dead skunk on the road. Such a perfect undamaged specimen! I skinned it out without damaging the body, no leaking fluids of any kind. Afterwards, I tossed all my clothes into the wash and showered as usual. A couple days later I met a bus load of patrons for a park tour. They kept saying they could smell skunk. Really? I later realized that clingy odor was on my shoes, name tag and badge. How it got on there, I don’t know…it’s weird …and it clings!
I wish I had known then about the hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and dish soap!
Peg B says
When I lived in a garden apt in Wilm, De I had a white skunk in the area. One night I looked out my living room window and there he was paws on the sill looking in the window! Didn’t take long to close the windows!
Jody Biesche, Garden Island, Inc. says
P.S. I should have said that the castor oil doesn’t kill the grubs, it makes things taste bad to the moles, voles, skunks, and other creatures that burrow under the turf to get at the grubs.
Jody Biesche, Garden Island, Inc. says
I always enjoy your articles, Mike. I wanted to point out something about grub control, though. Imidocloprid, the chemical most often used, is a suspect in the mass dying off of bees. You know how important bees are to our food supply! As a landscaper and environmentalist, the product I use is plain old castor oil, mixed with water in a hose-end sprayer and sprayed on the lawn. Start at the house and move out, spraying back and forth in a half-moon pattern. Give the yard a good soak, particularly near the tunnels. (Try not to spray the bees hanging out in the clover.) Do half the yard (closest to the house) one day, then continue on out the second day. You’ll probably have to make repeat applications, but it does work. You can buy the castor oil in a hose-end sprayer at most garden centers.
Jody, thank you for your helpful comments. I’m sure they will be appreciated by others as well.
Ron K says
Jody what setting or ratio of caster oil to water?
I have dozens of moles I think– mostly at the edge of my acre especially where I have planted many new shrubs and trees. Haven’t lost any yet (knock on wood) but hate the mounds of dirt they make and figure sooner or later they will kill some valuable plants. Thanks
Louis Gaddis says
Boiling Apple Cider vinegar is the best thing I’ve found to eliminate Skunk odor as well as other foul smelling odors. you can just sling it around or even use a hot plate to boil it directly in the area affected.
Jim Fisher says
An old place that was grown over next door burned up and they leveled the place with a caterpillar and hauled it all off. We had groundhogs and skunks along with moles, chipmonks and gophers after that. I trapped the groundhogs and skunks in a cage trap with ears of corn set right in front of their digs. The moles and voles etc were harder to get rid of, I didn’t want to lose the nightcrawlers. My Jack Russell got rid of the rest in time but I’m not sure what was worse, the tunnels or the holes the dog left, but they’re all gone now.
Skunks are fine as far as I am concerned. I just make sure that they do no damage to my garden or livestock.
I have organic acres and consider skunks part of the environment I live in. I chose to live here and it is my responsibility to look after and protect what I have brought in to their territory.
I make sure that all the animals that people have dumped, and I have rescued, are safe. The cats work the equipment sheds and also the hen houses where all my free range hens are up and safe night. They keep sheds and hen houses free of rats, mice and snakes.
My vegetable garden has an eight foot chicken wire fence folded out at the top, and dug down at the base around it to keep out the chickens, skunks, raccoons, and deer.
Yes, skunks dig holes as do the armadillo, but in this drought ridden area, those holes enable any moisture to penetrate into the ground.
The native critters were here long before we were. I have the ‘live and let live’ philosophy and every grub they eat is another one which will not bother my orchard or vegetable garden.
Just don’t get me started on the people who dump their unwanted animals out in the countryside.
I love the way you have set up your life. I wish more of us would follow. Live and let live is my motto too even after my dog got skunked.
Getting rid of grubs will not solve the skunk problem.
Skunks also love to eat earthworms in my lawn
causing big problems for me in spring.
It seems to me the only solution is to keep a dog outside.
Mike, any comments?
Nolage is power thanks for all the good info. Haven’t seen any skunks yet at my place in Hackett, AR. 30 miles from Ft.Smith,AR
I had one under my shed. I started dumping my cats dirty litter box in their hole and also had my husband contribute a little (ahem) at the hole. They left and never came back. Hubby’s contribution also helped on the fence to keep the groundhogs out.
Hey Mike! love your site and informational videos. Wish I would have seen your poison ivy videos before I got it all over my face, lol!
I am having a HUGE issue with slugs this year! We had drought and 100+ temps for June & July here in Indianapolis, is that why? They are eating everything! Found them clustered at the tops is my iris bulbs, most recently… Any tips for slugs? Is everyone having this problem?
Chickens and ducks find slugs delicious.
Julie, I used a product from Gardens Alive that is called Escar Go! Worked really well and it’s a natural product as I understand it.
My dog got sprayed by a skunk just last week. Luckily, I had copied a formula from online only a week before, and it works beautifully. Mix 1 pint peroxide, 1 box baking soda, and a few squirts of dishwashing liquid (any kind). Add to a gallon of water, and bathe the dog. (Of cat). You cannot mix this up before hand, and keep it out of the animals eyes, as it will cause blindness. But my dog didn’t smell much after the first bath, and not at all after the second. I think they are under the shed, as my dogs dug holes there trying to get rabbits last summer. I have bought some dirt to fill the holes, and even if the skunks dig their way out from under, I will know they are there from their digging efforts. Then I will sink a fence 12″ deep. But my house stank for two weeks, and the whole back yard had an odor for almost that long.
on live trapping skunks after you catch them , walk up to the cage trap slowly and talk to them in a soft voice ( yes talk to them), have a old heavy blanket or tarp in front of you and carefully lay it over the cage trap, then reach down and grab( lift easy don’t get wild) the cage to be moved where you want it. the dispatch can be done in several ways ( not sure if I should go into detail here ). You can even put the cage with the covering over it in the back of a pickup to haul to a differant area . If you follow these easy steps they are easy to handle without getting a differant perfume to wear for a few days
Bob, I’ve been told they won’t spray in a trap so thank your for your comments and advice.
When i was younger our cat clashed with one outside our backdoor. The odor was overwhelming so my dad took his paint sprayer and filled it with lemon juice. He covered everthing in lemon juice. It took 2 bottles but the smell was gone. That included the cats getting doused in the lemon juice. Nice to know the tips above for getting rid of them.
Gale M says
I live out in the country in South Texas…I dont think the skunks have a particular season here. They seem to ALWAYS be around and I have tried everything except trapping. But what seems to work best for me is……I cut up old rags and soak them in ammonia, then scatter the rags around. I do this several times a year and it seems to work.
Is the trapping technique for Ground Hogs similar to SKUNKS. What is the best bait to use?
Roger Tunder says
A woman called the police and told them she had a skunk in her cellar, the policeman said to put bread crumbs from the bottom of the steps to the top and he will follow the crumbs out. The next day she called the police and reported that she now have two skunks in her cellar.
I’m sorry for the lady, but I couldn’t help but laugh at this remark. I hope she told the policeman how his idea worked.
I suppose once the skunk left for his nightly round she could scatter moth balls near any entrance he used.
Hope O says
Skunks also like to eat cat/dog food. If you feed your animals outside, be sure to bring any uneaten food in at night.
Kay G says
I like to feed the birds. Put cayenne pepper in the birdseed. The skunks won’t like it and neither will the squirrels. The pepper will burn/sting their mouths (just like it does yours) because they have mucus membranes. Birds don’t mind it at all because they do not have those mucus membranes. You can buy the seed with the pepper in it already, but it is much more expensive that way. Just wear gloves when you mix is and be extra careful not to get any in your eyes. Wash you hands thoroughly immediately in case you got any on them.
Pat R says
I had a skunk homesteading under my shed one year. So I bought a fresh box of mothballs and tossed several hands full under the shed in different directions to cover as much area under there as possible. Skunk left. That was @five years ago; never came back, so far anyway.
Spring is in the air and so is the stink. Have you ever drove down the road in the spring time either during the day or at night and smelled the perfume of skunk? Usually this is from a road killed skunk that just come out of its den and is hungry and also looking for a mate. When they breed, male skunks will travel from one female skunk den to another, many times encountering another male and spraying as they fight. This is the time of year one hears about a skunk under the house and the whole house smelling like a skunk. Sometimes the skunks will spray as they are with a female. People are always looking for a repellent for skunks and something to kill the odor of skunks. The proper way to eliminate skunks first of all is to find where their entry point is. Most usually the entry is at the base or foundation of a house or building. The hole isn’t much bigger than a softball at times when it is dug out.
This is very enlightening. I’ve been wondering why sometimes they keep my yard sprayed up and sometimes they don’t. My cats and I have interacted with them but never been sprayed. They don’t spray unless they feel they must.
Nancy Robb says
I do have a skunk problem and enjoyed the artical on how to get rid of them. N. Robb