- They are mostly nocturnal.
- Litters usually average 4-8 kits and are born in mid-May to June after a 63-day gestation period. The kits will be weaned at about 6-7 weeks of age and will leave the den by fall. Skunks hibernate en masse, sometimes sharing their den with up to 20 other skunks.
- Their usual life expectancy is about 4 years.
- They eat mainly insects but also small rodents and fruit. They can be pretty beneficial to have around, as they eat grubs and caterpillars.
- They den in the ground, under buildings, and under wood or rock piles.
- They have sharp curving claws that make them very good diggers.
- Garbage and pet food attracts them.
- Skunks are a common carrier of the rabies virus. Use caution: minimize contact and keep pets at a safe distance. Always vaccinate domestic pets.
- These guys are one of the least problematic species in urban situations, but can tear up lawns in their search for grubs. They tend to do more good than harm because they will eat house pests such as mice, moles, aphids, grubs and cutworms.
- They will only spray when absolutely necessary since it is energetically costly to produce the musk. They are only able to spray a bit at a time, so if they expend all their musk, they are left defenceless. They tend to spray after a series of escalating behaviours: tail up, stomp, hiss, charge, scratch and aim - direct hit.
IS THERE A PROBLEM? HOMEOWNER SHOULD ACCEPT NORMAL, UNOBTRUSIVE BEHAVIOR.
Refer to SELF-HELP if:
- The problem is repetitive.
- Anyone is deliberately or inadvertently feeding it.
- The established activity patterns are a nuisance.
- The skunk is confined but could leave on its own.
Refer to PROFESSIONAL ASSISTANCE if:
- The animal is confined and unable to leave without hands-on assistance.
- A young animal is orphaned.
- The skunk is injured.
- A bite has occurred.
- A den is located on the property and must be removed.
- The homeowner is unable or unwilling to exercise self-help options.
- If the skunk is confined but could leave on its own, open a gate or door to allow the animal to leave. Patch-up entryways in fences, gates, and foundations.
- To deodorize a house: place dishes of dry coffee grounds around the house. Placing dishes of vanilla, vinegar or ammonia also clears the smell too. However, keep kids and pets away from the dishes of ammonia!
- If a domestic pet has been sprayed: use either a commercial pet deodorant, tomato juice (notorious for colouring dogs pink), tomato paste, orange juice, vinegar, rags soaked in vanilla extract or a mixture of 1 quart of 3% Hydrogen Peroxide, ¼ cup baking soda, 1 tsp of liquid soap (rinse off with tap water).
Removal of Attractants
- Remove pet dishes or uneaten food. Do not feed pets excess food that they might not finish in one meal.
- Eliminate water sources.
- Garbage cans need tight-fitting lids (wired closed or with a weight on top works as well). Place the garbage cans in racks or tie them down to prevent them from tipping over. Bungee cords soaked in a cayenne pepper solution (2 tsp. per litre of water) or ammonia and stretched over the lids also seem to repel them.
- Remove rock and woodpiles that might be used for den sites.
- Securely board off entry under sheds, outbuildings, porches, and vacant buildings.
- Pick up fallen fruit and harvest garden frequently.
Habitat Modification & Exclusion
- Wait until late July (when the kits are grown up). Sprinkle flour or talcum powder around the den entrance and then examine the tracks soon after dark. If the tracks lead out and none lead in, the hole can then be safely sealed. Since skunks are such excellent diggers, the barrier must extend at least 12-18 inches below ground.
- Fencing: Must include 1 ft. (L-shaped) below ground portion to prevent digging under.
- Lock pet doors at night to prevent skunk entry.
- Close or patch entryways in fences and under gates.
- Keep shrubbery and grass trimmed to deny them cover.
- The best time to exclude an animal is around 1:00am some night between mid-July (when the kits are old enough to leave the den) and the end of August (when skunks will be searching out shelter for the coming winter).
- Spray with water but remain at a safe distance.
- Loud noises (clap hands, etc.) usually scare them off.
- Place ammonia-soaked rags where the animal is seen.
- Spray this mixture all over the area: 1 cup Castor oil, 2 cups Murphy's oil soap, 1¼ cups of the hottest hot-sauce you can find and ¼ shot glass of human urine. Mix these ingredients together and place 1 tsp. per gallon of water. Obviously, the measurements can be altered to suit the amount required.
- Place mothballs around the den.
- Spray area with Ro-Pel® or Critter Ridder®.
- For more great tips go to Skunk Controls
- Never advise the homeowner to trap or attempt to handle a skunk.
- Trapping and relocating is not a permanent or healthy solution. Exclusion measures or tolerance should be advocated.
This is suggested when all other measures have been taken and it is determined that the skunk may need to be removed from the property.
Self-help tactics should be attempted first in all cases involving property damage. If these remedies are not sufficient, lethal removal of the animal may be the only option available.
- Humane Wildlife Control (514-395-4555)
- In the case of a bite: If a domestic pet has been bitten, bring the pet immediately to the vet. In off-hours, emergency cases can be brought to DMV, a 24-hour veterinary service. However, this clinic, though extremely thorough and knowledgeable, is also quite expensive. If a human has been bitten, bring them directly to a hospital.