How to get rid of skunks in the yard.

How to Get Rid of Skunks Naturally (Complete DIY Guide)

So, you have a skunk problem. And you need to get rid of them.

In this comprehensive guide, you’ll learn:

  • Why skunks are attracted to your yard
  • Natural ways to get rid of skunks
  • How to repel and keep skunks out of your yard, shed, and home
  • And more

Feel free to bookmark this page.

There’s a lot of information to help you on your quest to rid these stinky pests!

If you have any questions, ask me by leaving a comment or contact me.

Okay, let’s dive in and manage your skunk situation!

Last updated: 12/30/19.

 

Sections

What’s a skunk?

A striped skunk pest caught from a home.
Not the most threatening appearance, but their spray says otherwise!

Skunks are the black and white pests that are known for their terrible odor spray. They’re related to polecats and easels, but badgers as well.

They’ll spray any danger and aren’t afraid to do so using an unpleasant liquid odor that’s extremely difficult to clean. There are multiple species of skunks, but they’re all similar in appearance with varying coloration.

You can read more about their basic profile on Wikipedia.

Where do they live?

Skunks are found all over the US. Skunks can live in a variety of environments, typically only needing a den to shelter themselves. They’re opportunistic scavengers and eat a variety of food from plants and animal matter.

For the average American, skunks are found in the yard during the night.

They live in protected dens that they migrate between often.

There are many signs of skunks that you can find in your yard, home, and outdoors which we’ll cover in this comprehensive guide.

Skunk appearance

Skunks are easy to identify in the wild because of their appearance. Most skunks are black and white with a stripe going down their back in the center.

Every skunk has this stripe (even baby skunks). The color of their fur varies. Some can be cream, grey, or tan other than the common black/white combination. There’s a single large stripe from their head to their tail.

Some may have two thinner stripes or even broken stripes. Depending on the species, the coloration is unique but they’re all similar. Some skunks may also have stripes on their limbs.

Spotted skunks

The spotted skunk has spotted white spots and broken stripes on its back. They weigh about 1.2 pounds

Hog-nosed skunks

These are huge skunks that may weigh up to 18 pounds. Their nose is the signature physical characteristic that separates them from the traditional striped skunk.

Skunk footprint

Don’t let the skunks have a chance at them. Harvesting your fruits on time also prevents over-ripening, which may end up attracting other pests like fig beetles.

 

How do you trap a skunk without getting sprayed?

There is no easy technique to trap one and not get sprayed. As soon as you get close, the skunk will spray you if it thinks that you’re a threat.

Use a self-trapping type of mechanism that will automatically trap the skunk instead. If you have a skunk in your yard and you’re afraid to approach it, call animal control or hire a professional to handle the situation for you.

Further reading

Here are some other resources you may find handy:

Did you get rid of your skunk problem?

A skunk free home!
You now know what you need to know. Now go forth and get rid of them!

With these tips, you should now have a solid foundation to understand how to eliminate and repel them from your yard.

Remember, the key is to use a bunch of different techniques to see what works best for you. No two skunk situations are the same.

If you have any questions, leave a comment below. Or if you found this tutorial to be helpful, let me know. Consider telling a friend who you think this may benefit!

Thanks for reading!

A skunk footprint has four toes on the rear limbs and five toes on the front limbs.

 

Skunk life cycle

Skunks have a typical lifecycle. They mate during the spring polyamory. Each male mates with multiple females.

The pregnant female will then give birth to live young in a secure den. Each litter is 4-7 baby skunks (kits). The gestation period is 66 days on average.

Adult females will give birth around May before the summer season. The baby skunks are blind, deaf, and only have a layer of fur to protect them. After 3 weeks, their eyes open for the first time.

The kits take about 2 months to wean from the parent, which is protective of the young. She’ll spray any predators if needed.

Skuts are sexually mature at 1 year of age and will leave their mother at this point.

Are skunks dangerous? Do they bite?

The worst that could happen is getting sprayed by a skunk.

You’ll want to avoid this at all costs because the smell will drive you crazy and is terrible. Skunks can also bite and are known to carry diseases such as rabies.

Although it’s rare for one to bite a human, there’s still a possibility. The CDC has reported over 1.4K cases of rabies in skunks back in 2006.

Some people even keep tame skunks as pets (or even descented ones), but you should always treat skunks as a source of danger and be careful.

Why are skunks in my yard?

Skunks are scavengers and search your yard, shed, or even under your home for food. There are two main reasons why you may have skunks in your yard: food and shelter. If you live in an area where skunks are native, that’s also a strong possibility of why you have skunks. These scavengers can be annoying due to their notorious odor.

Sometimes skunks will seek out shelter to raise their family- this could be under your home’s crawl space, shed, or somewhere outdoors in a safe and cluttered area.

They usually make a den and raise the baby skunks until they’re matured.

Where do skunks hide during the day?

Skunks hide in their dens during the day. They sleep in a den created from various materials or natural shelter.

You may find them in vegetation, crawl spaces, voids, streams, lumber piles, or even under your shed, home, or porch.

Do skunks come out during the day?

If you see a skunk running around during the day, this is not normal. It may have been disturbed or scavenging for food.

They usually hide during the day and are only active at night- also known as being nocturnal creatures.

Skunks also move from one den to another very often. So you may see one for a short period of time hiding somewhere, but in a few days, it’ll be gone.

During the warm summer, they sleep during the day and only hunt at night.

What foods attract skunks?

Skunk hiding outdoors.
Skunks will eat anything they can scavenge.

Skunks eat a variety of foods because they’re opportunistic scavengers, meaning they eat whatever food they can get. They’re omnivorous, meaning they eat both plant and animal matter depending on what’s available.

They have a powerful sense of smell, so they can pick up the faintest scents of nearby food. They prefer odorous, smelly foods and have a tendency to easily sniff these out in your yard.

There are many foods that will bring them in, here are some of the most popular ones:

  • Peanut butter
  • Fish
  • Chicken
  • Garden fruits and vegetables
  • Poultry
  • Cat food
  • Many canned foods
  • Sardines
  • tuna
  • Bacon
  • Bread with peanut butter
  • Marshmallows
  • Nuts
  • Leaves
  • Grasses
  • Berries

Pretty much any strong-smelling food will attract skunks.

Seafood or canned food tends to work best. If you’re trying to use a bait to lure them into a trap, consider using something from this list of foods.

Or if you’re trying to keep skunks away from your yard, make sure you get rid of any of these foods from your yard.

Some areas to consider are your trash cans or compost bins. Make sure you secure them to keep skunks out.

Another thing to think about is pet feeders, or if you feed your cat outdoors. Pet food that’s left outside also happens to be a strong attractant for skunks.

So be sure to clean up after feeding your pets. Remove any leftover or spillage so skunks can’t eat the scraps.

Skunks also eat a variety of bugs, reptiles, and other animals:

  • Beetles
  • Worms
  • Cutworms
  • Crickets
  • Larvae
  • Grubs
  • Grasshoppers
  • Lizards
  • Salamanders
  • Frogs
  • Snakes
  • Moles
  • Birds
  • Rodents
  • Egg of unborn young

Skunks will also eat beehives and honeybees. They can’t get stung because of their thick coat. The same goes for yellow-jackets, hornets, and other stinging bugs.

What time of year do skunks come out?

Skunks will come out during the warmer months. Mating occurs during late winter, which is usually around February to March.

The offspring are born and weaned within 2 weeks and start to scavenge for food during mid-spring.

Then skunks will become most active during the summertime after they’re fully matured and ready to find food.

Are skunks active during the winter?

During the winter, skunks don’t hibernate, but rather remain very inactive and simply live off their reserves.

They pile up storage in their bodies during the summer and then live off of it during the winter. You may see them out even when the temperatures are cold.

Skunks may leave their cozy dens during the wintertime, but only for short periods.

They come out to eat a few times a day, but this is quick and they return to their den shortly after.

How to get rid of skunks naturally

Skunk sleeping under the home.
Here are some ways you can rid these pests from your yard and home.

You can manage and control skunks in your yard by using some home remedies. Try a few of them out and see what works for you.

No single method is proven to work for everyone, so the key to getting rid of them is to use a bunch of various DIY methods. If you really can’t get rid of them even after trying a bunch of these tips, consider hiring a professional skunk exterminator.

Use powerful lights

Skunks are nighttime creatures so using bright lights will help scare them off. Use motion-sensor lights and install them around your yard.

Place them strategically to where you suspect the skunks are scavenging for food.

The next time a skunk walks into proximity, the light will go off and the brightness of it will startle it and scare it off. The brighter the light, the better.

Use an LED security light to save power, and get a solar one if possible. This way, you don’t have to mess with electrical wiring to hook it up.

You can get multiple lights so your entire home is covered. This is a practical and effective way to naturally get rid of skunks.

Plus, you don’t have always been around for it to work. It’ll literally scare them off while you’re in bed.

If the skunk gets used to the light over time, consider moving the position of it closer to the area where the skunk hangs out.

Or change the direction that the light is directed. Keep the skunk surprised and eventually, it won’t come back because it gets startled every time.

They have sensitive eyes so bright lights will semi-blind them and render them immobile for a few seconds.

Blinking or pulsating security lights seem to work even better for skunk control.

Citrus

Skunks hate the scent and taste of citrus. Similar to most animals, you can use citrus as a skunk repellent.

There are many different ways to use citrus (citrus spray, lemon peels, essential oils, etc.), so use whatever you have and test it out.

Here are a few DIY repellents you can make at home.

Use lemon peels

You can buy a bulk pack of lemons at the store for cheap.

Peel the lemons and save the peels. Place them around your yard as repellent stations, or you can even toss the entire lemon into the soil.

The citrus and sourness of it keep skunks out. If you place the peels near your trash or where you see skunks congregation, this can be an effective measure to drive them out.

Use lime peels

Just like lemon, you can also use lime. Do it in the same fashion.

Lemon or lime juice

Citrus juice can be used in multiple ways. You can literally leave a dish of citrus juice outside as a strong repellent, or you can make your own spray.

Making the spray is easy- just add lime or lemon juice into a spray bottle and spray it outdoors around the yard.

The scent hangs around and works best in enclosed spaces. Tink crawl spaces, voids, under your shed or home, etc.

Citrus essential oils

Essential oils are basically like concentrated citrus juices. These oils are very potent and strong, so make sure you use just a few drops at first.

You can buy citrus essential oils at most stores. Add 2-3 drops to a gallon of water. Then make a spray by pouring it into a bottle.

Spray the solution around your yard where the skunks hang out. If you notice that the oil doesn’t seem to be working, use less water or add more drops.

Note that some oils may be harmful to sensitive people or pets. Always do your research first before using any essential oils.

Some of the most popular essential oils for skunks include castor oil, peppermint oil, garlic, oil, and cinnamon oil, and onion oil.

No single oil works for all skunks and all scenarios. You’ll have to try a few out. That’s the key.

Make your own citrus spray

You can make your DIY skunk repellent by using a combination of citrus juice and essential oils. Here’s how you make it.

What you’ll need:

  • Citrus essential oil (2-3 drops)
  • Lemon juice
  • 1 gallon of water
  • Spray bottle

How to make it:

  1. Add 8 ounces of lemon juice to a gallon of water.
  2. Add 2-3 drops of any citrus essential oil.
  3. Swirl gently.
  4. Pour some into a spray bottle.

How to use it:

  • Spray the solution where you want to keep skunks out of.
  • They hate the scent of citrus, so they’ll stay away.
  • Re-apply every other day until the skunks are gone.

Some people or pets may be sensitive to essential oils, so do your research first before choosing an oil.

This is a home remedy that helps get rid of skunks. The citrus annoys their sense of smell since it’s overpowering for their noses. Thus, they tend to stay away from anything citrusy.

Does Irish Spring soap keep skunks away?

I couldn’t find proof of this anywhere online, nor have I ever tried this for myself before. But I did find some anecdotal evidence. You can buy Irish Spring soap for cheap and cut the bar up into squares. Then place the squares around your trash and other parts of your garden. The smell of the soap may help keep them away..

Will peppermint oil keep skunks away?

Peppermint oil can help repel skunks.
Peppermint oil will burn their nose receptors.

Peppermint oil disturbs their sense of smell and annoys them. It can help keep them from establishing a den under your home, shed, or in your yard.

You can use this oil to help discourage skunks, mice, moles, and other animals from hanging around.

To make your own spray, just add 2-3 drops of peppermint oil to a small spray bottle and diluting it with water.

Don’t use too much. Slowly bump up the drops if you notice that the spray isn’t working. It’s best used in small spaces where they build a nest.

How to get rid of skunks with ammonia

Ammonia is a natural repellent that works wonders against skunks and many other similar pests like raccoons and field mice. You can buy pure ammonia at the hardware store.

Wear a mask, goggles, and other protective equipment as ammonia is dangerous if not used with caution.

Pour some into a disposable container and soak an old shirt. After that, hang the shirt or toss it outside.

You can use multiple shirts or old clothing to do this.

Ammonia will stain clothing, so don’t use something that you want to keep. Place the clothing soaked with ammonia outdoors as a repellent “station” for skunks.

Use pepper

You can use pepper as another natural alternative to get rid of them. Pepper proves to be very annoying to their senses and you can sprinkle it around their den or the perimeter of your yard.

You can also just buy pepper spray and apply it to trees, trash, and areas where you think the skunks are eating.

Motion-activated sprinklers

Just like the motion-activated lights, sprinklers can also help startle and scare skunks.

You can buy a set at a hardware store and put it in your yard strategically. The motion will detect the pest and then spray it with a stream of water.

This will scare it off and may keep it from coming back after a few sprays. You can also move the sprinkler to different locations or buy multiple sets.

Does vinegar keep skunks away?

Vinegar has anecdotal evidence that it can repel skunks. But it’s mainly used for cleaning up skunk smell from your cat, dog, clothes, and home.

The neutralizing effect of vinegar can help get rid of the nasty scent.

You can use vinegar “stations” around the home to help suck up and clean the air. Just add vinegar to a cup and place them where the skunk smell resides.

Use air circulation like fans to help drive the air particles away towards an open window. If you were sprayed by a skunk, apply 100% vinegar to your clothing or soak it in a vinegar bath to help reduce the odor.

Will chocolate kill skunks?

Chocolate can kill skunks if they ingest enough of it. Chocolate contains an ingredient called theobromine. If they eat this, they’ll get sick and vomit.

Over time, if they eat enough, it can be fatal to skunks. Some people place chocolate bars around their garage, home, yard, shed, or whatever else they notice activity.

The skunks sniff the sweetness of the chocolate bar and eat it. I’d suggest to never to use chocolate to get rid of skunks. It’s inhumane and extremely painful to the skunk.

You can get rid of them using other means rather than chocolate.

Use a radio

You can put a radio on if you have skunks hiding under your home. You can place the radio near the entrance of the den and put it loud enough so they can hear it.

Tune the radio to a talk show and leave it there overnight. Turn it off during the day. The sound of constant human chatter is a threat to skunks.

Apple cider vinegar

Just like other citrus sprays, you can use apple cider vinegar mixed with equal parts water and spray it around your yard.

Apply it to trees, trash, voids, and anywhere else.

The scent of anything sour does wonders as a repellent.

How to use mothballs to get rid of skunks

Mothballs should be avoided. They can work to get rid of skunks hiding in a den somewhere because the scent released over time from the mothballs are toxic.

The problem is that the chemicals are also hazardous to humans.

So avoiding mothballs when possible is ideal. You don’t want the residue to leech into your home if you’re throwing some balls into your crawl space, under the shed, or wall voids.

But if you find the skunk den outdoors, far away from your house, then you can use mothballs. Just toss a few of them into the den and the smell may help drive the skunk out.

What will keep skunks away?

Skunks are afraid of natural predators that eat them like coyotes.
Coyotes are a natural predator of skunks.

Here we’ll cover some popular methods you can do at home to help keep skunks away from your home.

Skim through them and see what works best for you. There’s no single answer to this question as there are multiple ways to keep skunks out.

What are skunks afraid of?

Skunks are afraid of their predators. Things that eat skunks scare them. Other than the methods listed above, you can use a variety of other things to scare them off.

Coyote and dog urine

Urine from their main predators can be used to keep them away. The two that come to mind are dogs and coyotes- both of which naturally prey on skunks in the wild.

If you have a dog, you can let it pee outside and the urine may help keep skunks at bay.

Or you can also buy frozen coyote urine and place it around your home.

The urine melts and spreads around the area. When the skunk comes around, it’ll smell the scent of coyotes nearby and this may help repel them.

Fox urine

Foxes are another common predator that eats skunks. You can buy fox urine and use it as directed. Spray it around the perimeter of your yard and within areas that they may use as dens.

Human urine

Human urine can also be an effective deterrent against skunks, but it seems to be hit-or-miss.

Some reports show that people have successfully used urine against them, whereas other people say it doesn’t work.

If you plan to use human urine to repel them, be sure to re-apply every 24 hours as the effect doesn’t last long.

What can you use to keep skunks away from your house?

A skunk-free home can be achieved by using some DIY home remedies.
Here are some methods to help you keep ’em out!

The most surefire and practical way is to get a fence or barrier to prevent them from coming into your yard in the first place. If you live in an area where you’re able to set up fencing, consider getting some skunk proof fencing that’s tall and deep enough to keep them out.

Skunks can climb and they can dig, so you need fencing that’s tall enough to prevent them from getting through.

Use at least a 6-foot tall fence with a chain link design. Give at least 12 inches of it below the soil.

This will leave you with 5 feet of fencing above the soil, which should be enough to stop them from climbing over. Although skunks can climb, they’re very bad at it.

So you should have enough both above and below the ground to prevent them from getting into your home.

If you don’t want to use chain link fencing, you can use garden mesh.

A wire mesh can be set up using stakes and skunk-proof meshing around the home.

You can also set it up only in areas where you want to keep them out of, such as crawl spaces, voids, and under your shed.

The mesh can be bought for cheap and usually comes in a bulk pack. I’d suggest starting with the chain link fence if possible, as it’s much more effective and resistant to other pests.

But if you don’t have that option, then go for the mesh.

How do you get a skunk to leave?

If you see a skunk in your yard, it’s not hard to make it leave.

 

You can easily scare it off by making a loud noise, spraying it with a hose, or even spraying the skunk with some repellent (such as citrus oils, essential oils, or DIY skunk repellent).

But you need to be safe or else you’ll get sprayed. Read on for more.

How to scare skunks away without getting sprayed

However, you’ll want to avoid getting up close and personal with it because you may get sprayed.

You want to avoid this because the scent of skunk spray is terrible. If you need to scare it off, stay a safe distance away and shelter yourself. Stay behind an object or stay inside your home. Yell at it. Clang pots and pans.

Spray it with a pressurized nozzle from a safe location. All of these will help scare it off. If it’s nighttime, use a bright light and shine it on the skunk.

Since they’re not used to bright lights, it hurts their eyes and drives them crazy. Getting rid of pests to run away is easy. The hard part is keeping it away because it’ll likely come back.

 

That’s why you need to take measures to prevent it from doing so.

Read the sections above for more information. Repeated “scares” to the skunk will eventually teach it to stay away from your property.

Will a skunk leave on its own?

Skunks are migratory pests and move from one den to another. If you see a skunk one day, it may be gone a few days later.

Most skunks will leave on their own after they exhaust their food supply or have the urge to migrate to a new location. If you live in an area with a lot of skunks natively, then you just may have one skunk problem after the other.

So it depends on the environment you live in and other factors.

How do you get rid of skunks in your town?

There’s no way you can actually do this unless you live in a small town. This is a cooperative effort that involves everyone that lives in your town.

You’ll have to work together to dispose of garbage properly, clean up your yards, and install skunk mesh for fencing.

Unless your town is extremely small or you can get everyone to work together, there’s no easy way to do so. Perhaps attend city council meetings and present your initiative?

Why do skunks spray under the house?

Sometimes skunks may spray their odorous liquid under your home or shed. They do this when they perceive a threat.

A female who’s protecting her kits will also spray any sources of danger that come near the den.

Skunks will also spray under houses if they establish a den or nests there. This is a habitual routine that they do which likely helps with finding their home.

When they spray under your house, the scent will leak through cracks and crevices and eventually into your home. You can help stop this by using mesh for fencing to keep them from entering your home’s foundation, crawl space, or voids.

Signs of skunks under the house

 

The most obvious sign of hiding skunks is the musky scents that leak into your room. If you smell this constantly, a family of skunks may be hiding under your home.

You may also find various holes or disturbances in your lawn, which they dig up to gain entry to your home’s foundation. They burrow rapidly with their powerful claws and can easily form underground dens.

How to get rid of skunks living under the shed

Skunks living under the shed can be difficult to get rid of.
Sometimes a pregnant skunk can raise a family under your shed.

If you have a family of skunks (or a single skunk) under your shed, you can get rid of them by doing the following:

Add lighting

The light will be a disturbance to the skunks and may help drive them out.

Put a radio in your shed

 

Leave the radio on overnight loud enough so that the skunk can hear it. Put it on a talk show. The sound of human speech is a sign of danger to them, so the family of skunks may leave or evict themselves.

Use a natural repellent

Anything citrus will do. Just toss a couple of freshly-cut orange or lemon peels under there and the citrus will hurt their sense of smell.

You can use essential oils, peels, or even lemon juice and spray it all around.

Use ammonia

Soak a rag in ammonia and toss it under your shed. The scent of it is terrible to skunks and will drive them out from under there.

Seal up your shed

After the skunk is gone, add wire mesh or a barrier to prevent more skunks from taking residence under your shed.

How do you keep skunks out of your yard at night?

Keeping skunks out of your yard at night can be done using automatic lights and sprinklers.
You’ll be sleeping, so set up

Use a combination of motion-sensor lights and skunk repellent to keep them out.

Citrus peels and scents irritate their nose, so this naturally annoys them. You can use lemon or lime peels, essential oils, or citrus juice around your yard. These will work overnight so you don’t need to be constantly awake and watching your yard.

The motion-sensor lights will startle them with a bright flash when they come across your food scraps.

Use multiple lights to cover your entire yard. Get flashing ones if possible. I cover how to place and install security lights to scare off skunks above. Read that section for more information.

Maintain a tidy yard

An obvious but overlooked requirement to get rid of them for good. You want to clean up your yard so there are no attractants. If your yard is clean, then there’s no reason for them to hole up in your home.

Although they may still establish a nest in your crawl space, that can be fenced off with mesh or skunk fencing.

But you can greatly reduce the chance of a future skunk infestation if you just keep your yard clean.

Here are some handy tips to keep in mind:

Prune overgrown shrubs and trees

Since skunks eat plants, overgrown foliage should be removed.

Clean up leaf litter

Don’t have a bunch of leaf litter lying around as this attracts bugs. And skunks eat bugs.

Secure your trash and compost bins

This is common sense. They’ll dig out of your trash and eat the scraps, so you’ll want to keep them locked up and skunk-proof.

Clean up woodpiles

Don’t have exposed woodpiles around your yard. Use a tarp and remove them.

Dispose of unnecessary plants

Any plants that you don’t need can be a food source for them. Get rid of them.

Harvest your fruits and veggies

Don’t let the skunks have a chance at them. Harvesting your fruits on time also prevents over-ripening, which may end up attracting other pests like fig beetles.

 

How do you trap a skunk without getting sprayed?

There is no easy technique to trap one and not get sprayed. As soon as you get close, the skunk will spray you if it thinks that you’re a threat.

Use a self-trapping type of mechanism that will automatically trap the skunk instead. If you have a skunk in your yard and you’re afraid to approach it, call animal control or hire a professional to handle the situation for you.

Further reading

Here are some other resources you may find handy:

Did you get rid of your skunk problem?

A skunk free home!
You now know what you need to know. Now go forth and get rid of them!

With these tips, you should now have a solid foundation to understand how to eliminate and repel them from your yard.

Remember, the key is to use a bunch of different techniques to see what works best for you. No two skunk situations are the same.

If you have any questions, leave a comment below. Or if you found this tutorial to be helpful, let me know. Consider telling a friend who you think this may benefit!

Thanks for reading!

2 thoughts on “How to Get Rid of Skunks Naturally (Complete DIY Guide)”

  1. robin L Hatch

    I have 3or 4 young skunks that come out around 8:30 am or even they hang around til 9:30 or so ,thats always the time go water my garden ,take the dog out.
    I thought they only came out at night

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