Skunks: Helpful Tips for Living in Harmony with these Beneficial Creatures
Skunks are mild natured creatures that live throughout the Western Hemisphere. They are known for their distinctive smell, and black body with a white stripe. Primarily nocturnal in nature, they are non-aggressive. Their line of defense is their spray. Skunk attacks are very rare.
Skunks can be beneficial in neighborhoods as they eat insects (grubs are a favorite) and rodents. Skunks use their spray only when they or their young are threatened and cannot escape. They give warning signs that they will spray, such as stamping their front feet, raising their tail, hissing, short forward charges, and twisting their hind around in the direction of the offending object. Dogs do not tend to heed these warnings, and tend to be sprayed at a much higher rate than people. If your pet is sprayed, you can neutralize the odor by making and washing your pet with a mixture of 1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide, ¼ cup of baking soda, and 1-2 teaspoons of liquid dish soap.
As skunks are opportunistic feeders, removing food sources such as grubs in your yard, bird or pet feeders that cause food to spill on the ground, and making sure garbage is kept in animal proof containers will help to keep skunks away from your yard. Checking your yard for skunks and other night-time wildlife before allowing your dog outside at night is always advised.
Harassment works well to get skunks to move along. Repacking the den hole with leaves or straw works well and tells the skunk that they are not wanted. Adding Light or noise to a once dark area will also discourage skunks from wanting to be around. Also, repellants such as ammonia soaked rags, used kitty litter placed near the den are enough to make skunks leave.
Skunks may attempt to den under decks, or porches. Placing lattice up to keep skunks and other wildlife out is recommended. You can also place ammonia soaked rags under decks/porches/wood piles where wildlife may attempt to den.
Local pest control companies are also able to set up live traps for skunks. Leg/kill traps for skunks are not allowed within city limits.
Animal control may be called for sick/injured skunks. Signs of illness in skunks can include limb paralysis, circling, boldness or unprovoked aggression, disorientation, staggering, and uncharacteristic tameness. While it is not common, healthy skunks will be out during day light hours. If the skunk is not showing any of the above signs, they are likely a healthy skunk.
For more information or concerns, leave a message for an Animal Control Officer at 586-446-2879.