Do you have a skunk living on your property? Despite their generally gentle disposition and effectiveness at keeping down small-rodent populations, very few people want a skunk living around their house. Their famous defensive odour can pose a real hazard for dogs and small children, they wreak havoc on vegetable gardens and poultry, and they can be a rabies carrier as well. Fortunately, skunks are usually fairly easy to get rid of, even if approaching them head-on is not recommended.
Unlike raccoons, skunks can take a hint. If you know where they’re nesting, you can loosely fill the entrance to their burrow with leaves or newspaper. You’ll know that they’ve left if you see the paper shift, and, when that happens, go ahead and refill it. Don’t pack it too tight though – you don’t want to inadvertently trap a mother skunk’s babies inside. Be extra cautious about this during breeding season (May-June). If you aren’t sure if the skunk is still in there, sprinkle a little flour around the entrance. Any tracks will let you know what’s going on.
Skunks are actually pretty sensitive to odours (ironic, right?), so a few simple, smelly, steps can go a long way when trying to evict a skunk. One easy solution is to make a homemade pepper spray (boil one yellow onion, a jalapeno pepper, and a tablespoon of cayenne in two quarts of water, then strain) and spray it around the areas you want the skunk to stay away from. You can even soak old rags in the solution (bleach works for this too!) and use a straightened coat hanger to push them into the skunk’s burrow. This trick works especially well if they’re nesting in the crawl space beneath the house or other hard-to-access spots. Used kitty litter (although gross) works well too, sprinkled around the perimeter of your yard, garden, or chicken coop. There are also several effective repellents available for sale, available at most garden centers and big-box stores.
If these basic remedies don’t work, there are more drastic measures available. If you know where the skunk has its burrow, you can invest in a one-way door excluder. Skunks are poor climbers, so a relatively short metal fence will keep the stinky little rascals out of your garden. They do dig though, so make sure you dig a trench to set the base of the fence into. Live traps, baited with cat food or canned sardines, are an option – although it’s a risky strategy from the skunk-spray-avoidance standpoint. And of course, you can always bring in the professionals. Almost every city and town has its own market for humane pest removal, so a quick Google search or trip to the yellow pages can help you there.
Keeping Your Property Skunk-Free
Now that the skunk has moved along, make sure you aren’t inadvertently attracting a new one. Trash bins with a latch will make your garbage less appealing. Also, avoid leaving leftover pet food lying around, since skunks love dog and cat food. Bird feeders can attract them as well, so it may be wise to empty those for a while.
Another way to keep skunks off your property is a motion-activated security light. Skunks are nocturnal, and shun bright light, so an unexpected blast from a floodlight is likely to send them scampering. You can also try to eliminate habitats they find appealing by filling in holes and clearing away overgrown brush and woodpiles. Ultimately, skunks, like most animals, are going to take up residence in the area most convenient to them. A few simple steps should be enough to make sure that residence isn’t yours.
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