SKUNKS

A striped skunk just outside its den

We typically encounter Striped Skunks in the Denver metro area, but also deal with the occasional Spotted Skunk and Hognose Skunk. Striped Skunks are often those pictures in children’s storybooks with the strips of white running down their back. They can be anywhere from 5-10lbs and about 2 ft long (very similar to the size of most house cats with longer, fluffier hair).

Telltale signs of skunk presence on your property can include: digging along your fence line, digging underneath a structure or that well known odor of skunk musk. If you suspect skunk activity on your property CALL 303-683-9283 to schedule your skunk inspection TODAY! Our wildlife professionals will assess potential skunk habitat on your property, develop a plan to remove skunks from your property, offer options to get rid of the skunk smell and work to protect against future skunk encounters.

Prevention – The Most Important Part of Skunk Control

Skunk are opportunistic omnivores. They will eat rodents pups, bird eggs, other small animals and insects (especially grubs in the lawn) as well as consume garbage and fruits/berries. To make your property less appealing to skunks it is important to reduce the food sources on your property. This can include removing trees or shrubs that produce berries, securing trash, keeping dog food in sealed containers, and maintaining the prey population around your property.

Habitat modification is also very important to prevent skunks from establishing a den on your property. Make sure to secure sheds, outbuildings, low decks and patio as these areas provide ideal protection from weather and predators. Remember that skunks are avid diggers so any repairs should be designed to prevent skunks from burrowing. Wood piles and excess debris (basically anything that a skunk can burrow under and hide in) should also be cleaned up around the home. If possible fence-line opens should be repaired to make skunk entry into the yard more difficult.

If you are past the point of prevention, it is important to have a professional assist with removal before any repair or habitat modifications are performed. Skunks will spray if frightened and will attack if cornered. Due to potential rabies transmission, contact your local health department if you are bitten.

Odor – The Most Noticeable Sign of Skunk Activity

When skunks are present on a property there is almost always a signature smell to accompany them. When a wildlife professional is inspecting a property, it can be difficult to discern the reason for the skunk smell. It is important to understand why the skunk has released its musk so that the proper skunk removal and odor remediation can be done. Here are a few reasons why a skunk might spray:

  • Mating season for skunks is typically February & March. During this time male skunks are more likely to release musk to defend their territory against other males and females may be warding off a male advance. This can lead to a whole lot of smelly in your neighborhood if skunks are living nearby.
  • Skunks will mark their territory to let other wildlife know that it is their turf. Typically, these sprays are not as strong and do not necessarily mean that the skunk is living on your property. It is always wise to have the property checked for evidence of a skunk den just in case.
  • If a skunk feels threatened by another wild animal, you or your dog they will spray to protect themselves. The amount of musk released will vary depending on the situation as skunks typically do not release all their musk at one time. They don’t want to be left on empty as it can take several days to replenish their supply. It is interesting to note that a skunk’s greatest predator is the Great Horned Owl which just so happens to have a poor sense of smell 😊
  • When a skunk dies it often releases its musk during decomposition and this often contaminates the soil and surrounding objects. This can lead to a very pungent combination of natural decomp & musk. Causes of a skunk dying under a structure can be disease, predation, natural causes or a homeowner/contractor sealing off the den while a skunk is still inside.

Mitigation – Skunk Removal and Odor Remediation

In most situations, skunks need to be trapped and removed because of their keen ability to dig back into/under an area. Ideally a trap is set at the den so that the skunk cannot avoid it and remain living under a structure. According to Colorado State law if a skunk is captured it cannot be released or relocated elsewhere. After the skunk is removed it is vital to repair/seal off the den so that other skunks or wildlife cannot inhabit the area.

During the skunk removal process, many homeowners want to know what they can do to get rid of the skunk smell. There is no magic solution, but here are a few things that can help:

  • For a minor spray in an open area time may help dissipate the odor. Air purifying machines and crock-pots of apple cider vinegar can help clear the air inside the home.
  • If skunks have sprayed onto a surface, it can be more difficult to get rid of the smell. In some cases a cleaning solution of baking soda, water, dish soap and hydrogen peroxide can wash away the spray and minimize the smell.
  • It is the most difficult when skunks spray into the soil in an enclosed area – such as under a deck, driveway or patio. Since the spray can be held in the soil, it can take a long time for the smell to go away. Often the smell will get better on cold days and re-surge again on warm days. This is because the changing temperature allows the spray molecules to be released from the soil. In severe cases the contaminated soil must be removed to provide relief from the skunk smell. This can require extensive demo and restoration.