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Elimination

Start by getting rid of anything that might attract skunks (burrows, debris, piles of wood, garbage, etc.). Granular repellant can be used but often has limited effect.

Cages designed especially for capturing skunks are your best bet to get rid of them. You can rent cages at our head office store . If you choose to go that route, we recommend using sardines as bait, in addition to an apple wedge to prevent the animal from becoming dehydrated. Following capture, the animal should be moved at least 15 to 20 km away before being released so as to avoid its return.

To get rid of the smell, you should clean rooms, furniture, and outdoor surfaces with a concentrated odor eliminator. If your pet was sprayed, special shampoos are available. If you were unfortunate enough to get some musk on you, wash your skin with a bleach or chlorine solution. The traditional tomato juice bath works as well.

Actions

  • Capture animals with a wildlife trap designed for that purpose
  • Release animals at least 20 km away

Prevention

  • Block off the space under sheds, porches, and other structures

Description and development

Skunks can easily be recognized by their black fur and two white stripes on their back. Adults reach total lengths of 50 to nearly 80 cm.

Skunks are rather solitary creatures, except during the breeding season and in winter. Females have litters of 2 to 10 young (5 or 6 on average) once a year. Mating takes place in February or March and kits are born 62 to 66 days later in May. They are then weaned 6 to 7 weeks later.

In the wild, skunks have a lifespan of 3 to 4 years but have been known to live up to 6 or 7.
To defend themselves, skunks spray a yellowish, fetid liquid with a lingering, musky scent. They do this by turning their back to their target, lifting their tail, and standing on their front legs. The musk is only discharged as a last resort after repeated warnings. Skunks are not aggressive and retreat is always their first choice when facing humans or other sizeable opponents. They are not immune to their own stench and are careful not to spray themselves. They prefer not to use this defense mechanism in confined spaces (their dens hardly ever smell like skunk) and can therefore safely be carried in cages so long as you avoid shaking or frightening them. Kits can adopt the characteristic defensive posture from the age of 4 weeks but cannot actually discharge the liquid until they are 6 to 8 weeks old.

Skunks are useful for keeping insect, larva, and small rodent populations in check. They are, however, a major vector for rabies.

Habits

Skunks are nocturnal animals that can be found in a variety of habitats. They are just as common in forests as they are in prairies, farms, and even urban areas. Skunks often settle into abandoned fox dens or groundhog burrows. They also like to seek shelter under tree stumps and structures like patios or sheds. Their dens can have up to 5 entrances.

Skunks are omnivorous. They eat insects, garbage, fruits, seeds, nuts, and herbaceous plants just as much as small mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and worms. When feeding on the latter, they leave cone-shaped holes in the grass 7 to 10 cm in diameter.

Skunks den up from late November to mid-February, going through a dormant stage (similar to hibernation). Females and kits live together with one male (up to 20 per den) while other males spend winter alone, occasionally going out during thaws.

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