Skunks Situations & Solutions

Skunks will make their dens under porches, decks, and sheds, and this can pose a problem for homeowners. If you have a problem skunk, there are several humane methods for eradicating it from the home or garden.

Skunks & Spraying

Skunks use their spray as a defense mechanism when trapped or pursued. Given the opportunity, however, they would prefer to walk away from danger and spray only as a last resort. Learn more about what to do if you or a pet has been sprayed.

Timing

During the months of May, June, and July, a skunk den is likely to have young in it. Don’t attempt to exclude the skunk at this time. The young are not old enough to leave with the mother and you will trap them inside. The mother can cause damage to your home in an attempt to free her offspring, and should the young die, you will have a serious odor and insect problem.

Skunks in Garages

Occasionally a skunk will walk into a garage or other building through an open door. Leave it alone and it will depart on its own, probably at night. If you want to be sure a skunk has left, spread flour in front of the door, then at night, place a half can of fish-flavored cat food or sardines outside, about 20 feet away from the entrance. Check the flour for footprints to be sure the skunk has left and close the opening.

Evicting a Resident Skunk

Method for evicting a resident skunk

If you have a skunk living under a porch, deck, or other building, seal all openings except one. During the day, while the skunk sleeps inside, loosely stuff the remaining opening with leaves or dirt. When the leaves have been pushed away from the opening you will know that the skunk has left and that you can now close the opening.

You can discourage a skunk from returning by placing a bright light under the structure after the skunk has left for the night. However, this offers only a temporary solution.

Permanent Exclusion

permanent exclusion solution for a skunk

Keeping skunks from living under buildings requires structural alterations and/or fencing to block access. You can close openings with wood, concrete, sheet metal, or wire mesh fencing.

To prevent skunks from burrowing under a wall, dig a one-by-one foot trench around the building. Tack hardware cloth (1/2" wire mesh) around the base of the structure, making sure you have a little more than two feet of mesh to place along the side and base of the trench you’ve dug. (See diagram above.) Once you’ve placed your mesh, you can fill the trench back up with dirt. 

Another option is to slide chicken wire under the structure to form a barrier that the skunk can’t penetrate. Be sure to keep the outer edge of the chicken wire flat on the ground by placing rocks or bricks along the edge. 

Skunk Stranded in a Window Well

Skunks frequently fall into basement window wells and become trapped. To free the animal, place a long, rough (for traction) board into the window well for the skunk to use as a ramp. Lower the board slowly into the well and provide the gentlest slope possible and the skunk will climb out at night.

Skunks & Lawns

Method to keep skunk from digging in lawn.

When seeking grubs of June beetles and Japanese beetles, skunks often roll back small areas of turf. Though aesthetically annoying, these temporary disfigurements actually benefit your lawn in the long run. An infestation of grubs will cause the grass to die and turn brown, so having skunks as predators can keep them in check.

If you want to discourage a skunk from digging up the lawn, we recommend purchasing a large sheet of fruit tree netting (also called bird netting), which you can find at garden centers. Lay the netting on the ground over the damaged area. Bunch, or gather (as you would a curtain), the edges of the lining; the "hills and valleys" in the netting will discourage the skunk from walking through it.

Skunks & the Law

Relocating wildlife is illegal in Massachusetts. It is detrimental to the well-being of wildlife as well as the public. Unknowingly, sick animals may be transported and released in other locations, causing the spread of disease. Learn more about animals and the law.

Skunks & Rabies

Skunks infected with the rabies virus were confirmed in Massachusetts in September of 1992, and since that time it has spread to nearly every community in the Commonwealth. The virus, communicable to all mammals including humans, had been working its way northward from West Virginia since the late 1970s. Learn more about rabies and public health.