Skunk Removal and Prevention: Residential Vs. Non-residential Skunks
Typically, there are two types of skunk removal and prevention situations—residential, and non-residential. Residential skunks are skunks that are actively living on-site, on your property. This situation is ideal for trapping and skunk removal.
Signs you have a residential skunk:
- Barking dogs
- Baby skunks (indicates den site nearby)
- Holes or depressions in the dirt that are 3-5 inches in diameter (caused by skunks grubbing for insects).
- Holes under porches, decks, and outbuildings that are 4-16 inches in diameter (denning entrance).
Non-residential skunks are skunks that do not have a den on your property (i.e., they do not live on-site, and there is no indication that they’ve made a home there). Sometimes the only signs of non-residential skunks are smell, barking dogs, and grubbing holes. These skunks are roaming or grubbing skunks. What this means is that the skunk travels from area to area in search of sustenance—food—and may or may not ever return. The best outcome for this scenario is taking preventative measures to ensure the skunk doesn’t return, and doesn’t make your home/property their new den site.
The most common areas where skunks set-up their den include, but are not limited to, under concrete front porch areas (where the porch meets the foundation), under decks, and underneath outbuildings. All it takes is a hole 4 inches in diameter for a skunk to fit through and that can serve as the den hole entry.
Skunk Removal and Prevention: What to Expect
In San Diego and the surrounding area, the striped skunk is most prevalent, with the spotted skunk coming in second (with spotted skunks rising in number since 2008). It’s essential to know that skunks are a form of wildlife that require professional handling. Here is the standard process of skunk removal:
Blocking Potential Exit Points:
After property inspection and before setting traps, the technician will need to block off all points of potential exit to ensure proper skunk trapping and removal. For skunk dens underneath the porch, the professional may need to block more than one point of exit.
Once all potential exit points have been blocked, the trap will be set. These are the materials most professionals use when setting traps for skunks:
- Positive Sets: Positive sets are cage traps, or spray-proof skunk traps. They are blocked or screened, allowing only one exit for the skunk, which is straight into the trap.
- Preferred Materials: A small to medium size (7x7x24-inch) metal frame, one-door trap, such as the Havahart professional model.
- Heavy black plastic or tarp (to cover the trap and prevent anyone from getting sprayed).
- Bait food, such as fast food, or snacks; however, this often attracts other wildlife, and domestic pets, so it isn’t ideal in the skunk trapping process.
Prevention and Exclusion:
If there isn’t any activity in the den, or on-site, the next step is to proceed with exclusion—preventing the skunk from re-entry.
- Preferred Materials:
- ¼-inch, 19-gauge hardware cloth (metal screen).
- 1×8-inch, or 1×12-inch pine boards with an angle that extends outward from the porch or deck 12 to 14 inches. This creates an underground fence, preventing entry by digging skunks.
Repair, Clean, and Restore Property:
Sometimes a skunk den under a wooden deck may require a few deck boards be removed to avoid blocking the entire deck in the trapping process. In addition, skunks can gain entrance into your basement, or crawl space, which causes damages at the point of entry, and the skunk creates a hazardous mess (using your property as a latrine). These damages will require clean-up, repair, and restoration of your property, which the company will handle.
Additional Information About Skunks
On rare occasions, you could have a skunk corpse, or mummified skunk on your property and not know it. Indications of a potentially mummified skunk corpse could be as follows:
- A “skunk-like” odor that is worse when the weather is rainy, extremely hot, or humid.
- The smell appears to be coming from a specific area—the vents, or near a crawl space.
- Previous traps set-up by professionals resulted in zero capture.
Decomposed or decomposing bodies of potentially disease-ridden animals is a serious health risk that should only be handled by a professional. They have the protective equipment to deal with these situations.
Skunk Removal and Prevention: Myths About Skunks
Myth #1: Skunks are nocturnal and only come out at night.
Although a clear indication of a skunk having rabies is wandering about during daylight hours, a mother skunk may come out during daylight in search of food because she protects her young from predation at night. Also, during mating season (beginning around February and March for skunks) you will often see skunks at all hours. AS AN ADDED CAVEAT: ALWAYS KEEP YOUR DISTANCE, DAYLIGHT OR NOT!
Myth #2: Leaving a porch light or flood light on will deter skunks from coming onto your property.
Another myth. The opposite is true because light attracts bugs and insects that skunks often eat. If you make it easy to find their main source of food, you’re inviting skunks onto your property.
Myth #3: Skunks spray every chance they get.
Skunks characteristically only spray when they feel threatened. They are near-sighted creatures, so more than likely, if you see one, and keep your distance, you won’t fall victim.
Myth #4: Tomato juice will get rid of the skunk odor after being sprayed.
Although tomato juice is effective in masking the smell of a skunk’s spray, it does NOT remove the odor completely. The unpleasant stench of the skunk’s spray is caused by sulfur compounds called thiols. To remove the odor, you must change the chemistry of the thiols. A mixture of hydrogen peroxide, and baking soda will turn it into oxygen. The oxygen then combines with the thiols to remove the “skunky” smell. You may also add detergent to the mixture, which helps break up and remove the natural oils in the skunk spray.
For this odor removing recipe, visit the Skunk Biology page of the Wildlife Removal Services website..
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