Skunks…They are cute in cartoons, storybooks and movies, but not so cute in real life.
Recently I received a phone call from a friend asking how to get rid of a skunk that set up residence under his house. Unlike raccoons, possums and other wild critters, removing a skunk presents its own set of problems.
Skunks are carriers of rabies and special precautions need to be taken. One wants to avoid contact with any skunk but contact with a skunk carrying rabies can be deadly. If you see a skunk acting suspicious, running around during the day (skunks are nocturnal), or foaming at the mouth call the local animal control agency and let them deal with the problem.
Skunks spray when frightened. They lift that busy little tail and anything within a 6 to 16 foot radius is in trouble. Eye contact with the spray will cause eye irritation even temporary blindness to humans. But the smell, oh my gosh, the smell, can be picked up by humans as far away as a mile downwind. How to get rid of the smell is a whole other article.
The best solution is to avoid having skunks take up residence in the first place. This means securing any openings under the house or shed. Skunks can gain entrance in an area opening as small as 4 inches. They also like to burrow, so be on the lookout for holes around the building.
Wood piles can also be a problem, so if you burn wood in a fireplace or wood stove, stack it off of the ground, to keep the skunks and other critters out.
Skunks like to eat lawn grubs. No grubs, no food, no skunks. See my article on How to Rid the Lawn of Grubs. Speaking of skunk food, also make sure the garbage can lids are secure and no pet food is left out.
But the problem my friend had was the skunk had already set up residence under his house, so now what?
One solution is a spray proof skunk trap. This trap is large enough to allow the skunk entrance, but not enough room to allow the frightened animal to raise its tail to spray.
Check out the trap at www.jtanimalcontrol.com and view a demonstration on how to bait and use the trap at www.youtube.com alcoppextension video.
Another option would be light. Skunks are nocturnal and mainly come out at night. Set up a flood light during the day or when the skunk leaves at night and leave it on night and day for a week. I would avoid a motion detector light for fear the light would frighten the skunk and the area would be sprayed.
Pepper spray also works as a skunk deterrent. Spray the area leading up to the entrance and under the house or building when the skunk is away. Re apply every few days until the skunk is gone, then reread this article and follow the directions on how to prevent skunks from taking up residence.
This is one time an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.