|Life||Skunks are crepuscular and solitary when not breeding. They are not true hibernators in the winter, but do den up for extended periods of time.|
|Home||They are burrowing animals, so in cities are often found under buildings and porches.|
|Food||Omnivorous; they eat larvae, insects, worms, small rodents, frogs, snakes, eggs, berries, roots, nuts, and grasses.|
|Young||Birth takes place in May or June. They have 3 to 10 babies per litter, and the young remain completely in the den for about 2 months.|
Skunks are shy animals. They have excellent vision, but can only see about 3 metres away, which makes them vulnerable to vehicle collisions. They are given a bad reputation because of their ability to spray, but in reality, skunks only use this as a last resort. Spraying is preceded by a number of warnings, including snarling, stomping feet, and chattering teeth. Should you come across an injured or orphaned skunk, watch it closely and immediately contact the SPWC, the Humane Society, or a local rehabilitator.
If there is a skunk living under your porch or house
If this occurs in May to July, the skunk is probably a mother with young. It is best not to force them out at this time. Likewise, it is best not to evacuate skunks in the winter since it will be nearly impossible for them to find food and alternate shelter. The best time of the year to use methods to keep them out is between July and November.
Similarly to raccoons, effective methods to exclude skunks include using noise and light. Once you see young skunks walking outside (with their mother), place a battery-operated radio near the den, turned to an all-talk station at a loud volume, and put a bright light on at all times. This will encourage skunks to find a more comfortable home. Be patient at this stage because it may take a few days for the mother to find a new suitable home and move the babies. They will not spray you if you do not interfere. It is best to keep domestic animals away from the den.
A very effective and humane way to evacuate skunks is to install an L-shaped galvanized screen around the porch or shed, but to leave the entry hole open. Dig a 1”x1” trench around the edge and place the screen in the trench to form a backwards ‘L’. The base of the ‘L’ should be at least 8” wide. Fit the screen tightly against the building, then fill the trench in with dirt.
To determine if the skunk is still using the den, place a ball of newspaper in the entry. If it is moved, then the skunk is still residing in the den and the deterrent techniques above (using light and noise) should be continued. When the newspaper ball is not disturbed for several days, you can then permanently seal the entrance.
If a skunk is pacing and digging frantically at the entry hole, there are most likely young still inside – immediately unseal the entry hole.
If a skunk has fallen into your basement window well
Skunks are not good climbers, and may die if not rescued. Slowly and carefully lower a rough board into the window well, at a gentle slope to serve as a ramp. The skunk can use this to climb out. To prevent this in the future, place tight-fitting covers over all window wells.
To remove skunk spray odour
Skunk Deodorizer: An Associated Press article in early 1995 described the efforts of Paul Krebaum, a chemist at Molex Inc. in Illinois, to neutralize skunk odor. He has successfully developed a non-patentable home remedy that anyone can mix up and use:
- 1 quart 3% hydrogen peroxide
- 1/4 cup baking soda
- 1 teaspoon liquid Dawn (or other) dish soap
Once the hydrogen peroxide is mixed with the baking soda, the mixture is unstable and generates oxygen, and thus cannot be bottled or stored. Oxidation changes the chemical composition of skunk oils so that they are no longer odorous to the human nose. When the fresh mixture is applied to skunk odour or items contaminated by skunk odour, the smell goes away immediately! It’s at least as effective as any commercially bought product.
A word of caution: Do not leave the formula on your dog or cat for any length of time. Rinse off thoroughly after washing, otherwise it has the ability to turn your Black Lab into a Golden Retriever!