Skunk Control And Trapping Skunks

How to Trap a Skunk Safely & Without Getting Sprayed

Skunk Odors


Skunk Odors

Skunks are known for their discharge, an obnoxious odor when provoked. This discharge is released primarily in self‐defense. A skunk can release a spray of oily liquid as far as 10‐15 feet and spray up to six times in succession.

The fluid is painful if it gets in a person's or pet's eyes and may cause temporary blindness for about 15 minutes.

Skunks will usually stamp their feet, hiss, or growl and raise their tail erect to warn of an imminent discharge.

After a full discharge, it takes up to 10 days to replenish the supply. A skunk generally sprays only as a last resort, preferring to retreat from danger.

Skunk Odor Control

Bathing in tomato juice will help treat odors on dogs. Pour it on the dog's fur straight and massage and shampoo.

A compound called  Invade Bio Zap will begin to destroy malodors almost immediately upon contact. After the contact, it effectively captures and destroys malodors until the offending odor is completely broken down and destroyed.

How to Trap a Skunk Safely Without Getting Sprayed

Trapping Tips

  • Traps should be baited with fish (canned or fresh), fish-flavored cat food, chicken parts, bacon, or peanut butter on bread. The trap should be set in the trail immediately in front of the burrow's main entrance. Logs, twigs, boards, or stones placed on either side of a path between the burrow opening and the trap will funnel the animal toward the trap.
  • All traps should be checked in the morning and early evening.
  • Slowly approach the trapped skunk and cover the trap with an old blanket or piece of thick burlap, if not already set. The covered trap will be less fearful for the skunk, and it will less likely discharge its scent.
  • Carefully pick up the covered trap and place it gently in the back of a pickup truck for transporting elsewhere. Avoid sudden, jarring movements or loud noises that may frighten the skunk. It is much more difficult to handle spotted skunks successfully in this manner. Still, striped skunks seldom release scent when these precautions are taken.
  • Trapped skunks can be transported 10 miles or more and released. Some states have laws that say that a trapped skunk cannot be released elsewhere and must be killed. Check your local state regulations.
  • To release a trapped skunk, stand more than 20 feet away and release the trap door using a string or fishing line. This method is not generally recommended because of the potential for spreading rabies if the captured animal is infected by chance.
  • Never release a skunk that shows signs of aggression, very nervous activity, or salivation. It may be rabid and should be destroyed.

There is obviously a special problem when trapping skunks due to their odor defense.

Live traps such as Safeguard 24x7x8 trap w/ cover-Skunk Trap may be used to trap and remove skunks.
Packaging: 1 Trap (M 50063) with poly cover
  • Measures: 24" x 7" x 8" with a 1" heavy gauge wire mesh.
  • Covered by a 1-year warranty against manufacturer's defects.
  • Made in the USA.
  • Skunks in the USA

    Skunks are a member of the weasel family.

    People generally relate skunks to the foul-smelling, defensive spray they discharge when scared or threatened. Many people have experienced this unpleasant odor along roadways and on dogs that have contact with skunks.

    In many parts of North America, skunks are the major carriers of rabies.

    The two most common in the U.S. are the striped skunk and the spotted skunk. In many parts of North America, skunks are the major carriers of rabies. A black body characterizes the striped skunk with a narrow white stripe on the forehead and wider stripes that extend from the neck along each side of the back. It is about the size of a large domestic cat, while the spotted skunk is half that size.

    Skunks have sharp claws on the front feet used for digging insects and worms.

    Their footprint and moving patterns distinguish them from other similar-sized animals.


    Key Takeaway

    Traps made for use with skunks will have a cover to reduce the liklihood of being sprayed. It only takes being "skunked" once and you won't let it happen again!

    • Skunks are nocturnal, usually active from early evening through the night.
    • They typically spend their days sleeping in dens, although they may bed in vegetation during the warm months.
    • Dens are usually below ground but may be found in streams or pond banks, lumber piles, or beneath porches or crawl spaces.
    • During the colder winter months, several skunks will gather and share the same den.
    • Skunks do not hibernate but generally remain inactive during winter, surviving on their fat stores. However, they may leave the winter den for short periods during warm weather.
    • Mating occurs in late winter (February and March), and the young are born from mid-spring until mid-summer.
    • Generally, there are 4 - 6 young per litter. The young skunks are weaned at two months and usually leave to establish their den by fall.
    • Their diet consists of insects such as crickets, grasshoppers, beetles, cutworms, and various insect larvae
    • . They will also sometimes eat poultry, eggs, garden vegetables, and fruit.
    • They can dig and root in the soil, looking for insect larvae. Sod lawn damage by skunks often has the sod "rolled back" in a similar fashion as done by raccoons.
    • They will also feed on mice, rats, ground squirrels, shrews, moles, and other small mammals. They are beneficial in keeping the rodent population down when not being a nuisance.

    Skunk Prevention and Control

    • Dog or cat food left outside for family pets can be very attractive to skunks. Discontinue this practice if skunks are a problem.
    • Many problems with skunks around homes and farms can be prevented by excluding skunks from spaces beneath buildings. Skunks can be prevented from living or entering under buildings and other structures by closing all spaces with wood or metal screen.
    • Ensure spaces are enclosed tightly to the ground to discourage digging.
    • Skunks near homes and farmyards can be further prevented by removing brush piles, stacked lumber, woodpiles, and similar shelter sources that they may find inviting.

    Skunk Exclusion

    A fence can exclude skunks from landscaped areas, gardens, schoolyards, and other such places. One‐inch poultry netting in a 3‐foot width is recommended. The bottom 12 inches should be below the ground surface, extending 6 inches down and then 6 inches outward in an "L" shape. This will discourage most skunks from digging under it. Only rarely will skunks climb such a fence.

    When skunks are already living under a building, they can be coerced to leave in the following manner:

    • Seal all openings except the main skunk entrance. Use sturdy wire mesh (1/4-inch hardware cloth or similar materials) to screen vents near ground level in houses and other structures. Tightly seal holes in foundations or under porches to prevent skunks from entering and making homes there.
    • To determine entry points that the skunks would be making, you can use "tracking patches" of a fine layer of sand, flour, or dust placed at suspected entrances.
    • After dark, when the skunk has left seeking food, they will leave tracks at the den entrance. Inspect the powder for exiting skunk tracks.
    • Once a skunk has left the building, immediately seal the entrance with the hardware cloth "door" described below. You will not want to permanently exclude at this point, not being sure of the number of skunks present. To temporarily exclude the skunks, a 1/2‐inch hardware cloth "door" can be used. Attach a 1/2‐inch hardware cloth section to the opening, hinged at the top and left loose on the other three sides. It should be larger than the opening so that it cannot swing inward. The skunks will push it open to leave but cannot re‐enter. The following evening, re‐apply tracking patches ‐ powder and re‐open the entrance to allow any other skunks to leave before permanently closing the opening.
    • Once you are sure all skunks are out, permanently seal the opening. Extend the wire screen or other materials used to block the entrance several inches below the ground to prevent the skunk from digging under it. The barrier can include a wire skirt at the ground level extending at least 12 inches horizontally outward from the entrance. Young skunks may remain in the den from April through August. Be sure all animals are out before sealing up the entrance. Mothballs or moth flakes (naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene) scattered or placed in porous cloth bags suspended in the den area, or liquid ammonia solution in a shallow pan, may discourage skunks from returning. Bright lights placed under buildings may serve a similar function.
    • When skunks have become trapped by falling into a window well, cellar, or hole in the ground, carefully lower a cleated board into the hole to allow them to climb out and escape.

    Shooting Skunks

    It is not recommended to shoot skunks in that it often results in the release of their odor. It is not recommended to shoot skunks if the skunk needs to be captured for rabies testing.

    Skunk FAQs

    I would like to know how I may stop the devastation to our lawn by skunks. I have treated the yard for grubs and other insects twice this year with no success. The skunk is living under our screened porch and spends his nights digging little round holes for grubs. I have seen him and believe he is alone. What products can I use to rid ourselves of this pest?

    Trapping and removing skunks is a good option. But considering the danger of being "skunked," I would use a  Live Skunk Trap with a Cover.

    My neighbor recently trapped a skunk in a  Raccoon trap. He took the trap approximately 2‐3 miles away and released the skunk into the woods. The skunk returned a few days later. We can recognize this particular animal because most of its pelt is white.

    My question is: How far away should my neighbor go to release a skunk without it returning to our neighborhood?

    To be on the safe side, take the skunk at least 6 to 8 miles away. Check with your game and wildlife department before trapping and releasing them.

    To avoid being sprayed by a skunk, use a spray proof skunk trap.

    Written by our resident pest control expert Ken Martin.

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