Skunk

The Striped Skunk is the most common species of skunk found in our area. The scent of the skunk is one of the strongest odors in the animal world. It comes from an oily, yellow secretion called musk.

A natural exterminator!
Skunks are omnivores and feed on a variety of unwanted insects such as grubs and termites. They also eat small rodents. Without skunks, our gardens would suffer greatly.

Until recently, when a new synthetic substance replaced it, the musk of skunks was used as a base for perfume. In former times it was used to cure asthma, whooping cough, and similar respiratory illnesses.

Behavior
Striped skunks have adapted to various habitats — suburban homes, farms, fields bordering woods, or near streams, wherever they can find ample food, water and shelter. Skunks are nocturnal and are rarely seen in daylight. You may smell a skunk but never see it. They naturally feed on insects, berries, nuts, bird eggs and small rodents. However, pet food left out during the night will also provide an easy meal.

Skunks moving in?
Decks, garages, basements, and woodpiles provide adequate housing for skunks. A few ways to prevent unwanted house guests is to secure vent screens on your house, close off raised decks, pick up pet food at night and dispose of fallen fruit. They’re not good climbers, so you can easily block access to your yard by extending the fence into the ground several inches and keeping gates closed.

During the day, place ammonia-soaked rags in a can every 3-5 feet around the perimeter and both sides of the entrance to the suspected problem area. You can also use a Hot Pepper Wildlife Deterrent. Within 2-3 weeks the animals should have moved elsewhere.

Wait until you are sure there are no babies inside to board up any openings.

How can I get a skunk out of my garage?
Open the door and allow the animal to leave quietly. This should prevent him from spraying. Secure the door when he is gone. Pet food left out at night may be attracting skunks. Remove the pet food before dark and feed your pets during the daylight hours.

How can I prevent skunks from digging in my lawn and garden?
Skunks dig for insects, grubs and termites. They leave small cone-shaped holes. Install floodlights and keep them on at night if you find evidence of skunks digging in your lawn or garden. They do not like bright lights and should go elsewhere. Check with your garden supply store for the best product to use to get rid of your particular insect problem. Then the skunk will have no reason to dig. Skunks will also eat fruit, so pick up fallen fruit so they are not attracted to that area of your yard.

How can I protect my small pets from skunks?
Keep chickens and small animals secured at night. Remember, skunks can dig, so ensure proper housing for your pets.

What can be done about skunk odor?
There are commercial products on the market that claim to remove skunk odor. Tomato juice or vinegar is helpful in neutralizing the scent. A mixture of 1 quart 3% hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 cup baking soda, and 1 tsp. liquid soap has proven effective in eliminating the odor. If a skunk has only passed through your yard, the odor will dissipate on its own after a time.

Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley
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San Jose, CA 95132
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info@wcsv.org

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