How to Get Rid of Skunks

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If you've noticed skunks in your yard more than once, then they're there for a reason -- either an ample food source or a location that looks cozy enough to transform into their den. Remove access to their food and housing, and the skunks will have no reason to stick around.

Eliminating Their Food Sources

Skunks have a vast diet. So any number of items may draw them to dine in your yard. Insects, pet food and even food scraps in your trash or compost pile may attract these nocturnal creatures. If you remove their source of food, the skunks will skip your yard during their search for meals.

  • Remove bowls of pet food -- and even food you left out for birds or squirrels -- before dark each day. 
  • Keep trashcan lids secure.
  • Enclose an open compost pile with side walls made from chicken wire or scrap wood. Bury part of the walls or fencing to ensure skunks do not dig beneath; they're more likely to dig than to climb.  
  • If you have fruit- and vegetable-bearing plants, then each day remove all the fruits and vegetables that fell to the ground. Build a fence around garden patches to prevent skunks from entering those areas. 

Finding Their Den

If you suspect skunks set up a home in your yard, find it by hunting for a lingering musky odor in an area such as a rock pile, woodpile, crawlspace or gap beneath a shed. Sprinkle flour near all areas that resemble entry points to a suspected den, or stuff the openings with dry leaves, newspaper or other lightweight material. If skunks actively use the suspected den, you'll see their footprints in the flour during the next one or two days, and the den openings will be cleared of whatever you used to fill them temporarily. If you suspect baby skunks also live in the den, shine a flashlight into the area to see them after you think the adult skunks have left for the night.

Encouraging Them to Leave

Skunks do not enjoy loud noises or bright lights. Either one of those -- or both -- can make skunks vacate your yard.

  • Install a motion-sensing bright light, such as a floodlight or security light, to shine directly on a skunk den opening or area where the skunks forage for food. 
  • Turn on a sound source such as a radio or wireless speaker connected to an audio player, and aim it at a skunk den. Start the sound before dusk, and leave it playing all night. Make the sound loud enough to annoy the skunks but not your neighbors.
  • Install a one-way door in an entrance to a skunk den so the skunks can leave the den but not re-enter it. Use this technique only if no skunk babies are in the den, or if the babies are old enough to forage with their parents. Sprinkle flour on the ground inside and outside the one-way door you install at the den entrance; if the flour has not been disturbed after three or four days, then the skunks have left the site.
  • Block off the entrance to a skunk den once you are certain they've left for good. Around permanent structures such as sheds, add steel bars or metal sheeting buried at least 1 foot deep around old skunk entry points so the skunks can't dig out those materials. Remove woodpiles and rock piles. Cover or fill gaps that previously allowed skunks to get into a crawlspace or beneath a porch. 

Tip

  • A balled-up rag soaked in ammonia and placed near a den entry point or trashcan can help keep skunks away from that site.

Warning

  • Do not permanently block skunk den entry points unless you're certain no skunks are inside the den. Infant skunks may stay in a den for weeks. Wait until they're old enough to venture out before you close off the den.

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