The notorious, foul spray of skunks can sometimes make them seem like a bigger nuisance than they really are. Not that they aren’t troublesome, but skunks will go out of their way to avoid contact with humans. Because of this, it’s not terribly difficult to learn how to keep skunks out of your yard, but actually implementing effective skunk prevention or removal can be tough.
It’s hard to overlook skunks’ odorous spray—their primary method of deterring potential predators.
If you’ve ever had to wash a pet that’s been sprayed by a skunk, you how strong that spray can be.
Beyond their smell, skunks can also tear up your yard and plants in search of food (often larvae such as grubs). Not that you’ll ever catch them in the act; skunks are nocturnal animals that you’ll rarely see during the daytime.
Here’s something else to consider: skunks can carry rabies, canine distemper, canine hepatitis, and a variety of other not-so-nice diseases. All in all, it’s a wise decision to keep them from your yard.
How Do I Know Skunks Are In My Yard?
Even if they’re not spraying, skunks can leave a dull, distinctive odor, especially in and around their dens. If you’re consistently noticing a faint skunk smell when you’re in the yard, chances are they’ve become a new (and unwanted) neighbor.
Another sign is shallow, circular holes in your yard. Skunks dig perfectly circular holes in search of grubs and other larvae. You may also notice a footprint much like a cat’s, with five toes. Another clue? If your dog or neighborhood dogs are barking in the night, it could be because they’re barking at a skunk (or skunks.)
What Are Ways I Can Keep Them Out Of My Yard?
The good news is that there are a variety of ways to keep skunks from invading your yard, the majority of which are easy to undertake. Here are some of those ways:
Remove skunk food sources
Skunks are natural scavengers, and if you have trees that produce nuts, berries or anything else nutritious, be sure to rake them from your yard as often as possible. Grass clippings should also be discarded because they may contain seeds or other sources of food for skunks.
If you have a garden, be sure to harvest ripe fruit and vegetables as soon as possible to prevent skunks from getting to them first. Additionally, install a tray under your bird feeder to catch seeds before they reach the ground.
Dispose of human food properly
When it comes to food, be sure to properly take care of your and your family’s discarded food. That means having a lid on your garbage can that cannot be lifted off easily. Always tie trash bags tight before placing them in the garbage can.
Let the light shine
Skunks are nocturnal and prefer to come out at night under the cover of darkness. That said, light has been known to frighten them, and by installing some sort of bright light in your yard can convince them to go elsewhere to search for food. Motion detector lights can be a good investment and might not bother your neighbors as much, but also keep in mind that animals tend to become immune to specific things over a period of time.
Block skunk hiding places
Close off spaces around your house that make possible homes for skunks – under decks, porches, and other sheltered areas. Use rocks, fencing or plywood to barricade those places. Skunks are excellent diggers and can squeeze themselves into small holes, so make sure any holes or cracks are sealed tightly.
Log piles, lumber piles, and building materials can also serve as hiding places for skunks. Store these in a shed or a bin. Large bushes also provide good shelter for skunks, so you may want to trim back the branches to make them less inviting.
Use chemical skunk repellents
Some chemicals have been proven to be offensive to skunks and can be placed at the edges of your yard, or where they like to hide. Here are some suggestions:
- Ammonia – Soak rags in ammonia and place them under your deck or porch to deter skunks.
- Pepper sprays – Sold to also repel squirrels and other small animals, pepper strays are effective skunk repellents. Spray them on trees or other areas where you think skunks have been.
- Fox and dog urine – Foxes and dogs are skunks’ natural predators, so their urine is a natural repellent. The good news is that you don’t have to collect the urine yourself since many hardware stores sell products containing fox or dog urine.
- Citrus Peels – Orange and lemon peels have natural repellent qualities. Scatter them around your yard and under your deck or porch.
The bottom line is that there’s no need to panic when you suspect skunks have made themselves at home around your house. Following any of the methods above can make their stay short-lived and provide peace of mind.