What Does it Mean to Have a Skunk in Your Yard?

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Having skunks in your yard can be an annoyance.
Having skunks in your yard can be an annoyance. (Image: Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

It is generally a good idea not to provoke a skunk if you see one, because if you're sprayed it can take weeks or even months to eliminate the smell from your clothing and body. If you see a skunk or family of skunks in your yard, it does not mean your yard is filthy or the area around your house is unkempt. Chances are there is something in your yard that's attracting them.

About Skunks

Skunks are nocturnal rodents that typically live near water. Skunks eat mice, eggs, lizards, frogs, beetles, earthworms, garbage, acorns and fruit. They are also heavily attracted to bird seed or sunflower seeds. Skunks are usually not dangerous but are more of an annoyance because of their spray, which carries an extremely unpleasant smell. They can typically spray up to 15 feet with accuracy and usually aim for the eyes. The spray is a defense mechanism used to protect them from predators.

What Attracts Skunks

Skunks can be attracted to a yard or a house by certain items that might be in the yard or near the house. As stated before, bird seed and sunflower seeds are two main attractors of skunks. Pet food, garbage, grills and lumber can also attract skunks, as can openings under houses, decks or sheds.

Skunk Deterrents

There are also things that just about guarantee they won’t come anywhere near your yard. Old worn clothes bearing a strong human scent, ammonia-soaked rags and socks filled with mothballs can all be placed in and around your yard to keep the skunks away.

Getting Rid of Skunks

If you have a persistent problem with skunks in your yard, you may have something outside that is attracting them. If you have a pet that you normally feed outside, feed it indoors so no crumbs or excess food will end up in the yard. If you have grill, keep it cleaned and stored in your garage or in a shed. Keep all your garbage in a covered metal container. Make sure there are no other wild animals present in your yard, and block any openings that may exist under your house. Finally, as a last resort, employ one of the deterrents mentioned in the previous section.

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