How to Get Rid of Skunks Without Killing Them? | A Complete Guide

Written by Thomas Matthews

Skunks are wild creatures that typically remain out of sight. But they can invade human properties when hungry, scared, or sleepy. When one of these creatures begins wandering your yard, it’s time to consider humane removal methods.

How to get rid of skunks without killing them? To get rid of skunks without killing them, you’ll want to keep garbage away from your home and remove wood piles around the yard. You can also spray ammonia, sprinkle mothballs around your property, or apply a predator’s urine to your property boundary. Unpleasant smells tend to ward away skunks.

There are plenty of non-aggressive, non-fatal ways to get rid of skunks. Funnily enough, many of the best skunk-repellent solutions work because they smell unpleasant. Still, it’s crucial to understand why skunks might be coming into your yard before attempting to get rid of them.

What Is a Skunk?

What Is a Skunk

Skunks are small furry mammals that typically live in wooded areas. There are about a dozen known skunk species. But perhaps the most familiar type of skunk is the striped skunk.

What Does a Skunk Look Like?

What Does a Skunk Look Like

Skunks can sport a variety of different coat colors and patterns, depending on the species. However, the striped skunk has a black body and (typically) two parallel white stripes down its back. This white coloration typically starts at the head and ends at the tail.

Where Do Skunks Live?

Skunks live in burrows, much like moles and foxes. They can also live in logs or beneath stone piles. Wood piles are also a common home for skunks. Many skunks live in the wilderness, but some can enter human neighborhoods when threatened or searching for food.

How Long Do Skunks Live?

The average skunk lifespan in the wild is about seven years. However, human-raised pet skunks tend to live slightly longer. That’s because household skunks encounter fewer threats than their wild counterparts. 

What Do Skunks Eat?

Skunks are omnivores, which means that they eat both plants and animals. However, wild skunks primarily eat insects, rodents, and bird eggs. That said, skunks are opportunistic. They’ll go after pretty much anything smaller than themselves. 

Why Do Skunks Spray?

A skunk may spray a foul-smelling liquid from its bottom when feeling threatened. Specifically, skunks use their anal glands to project a stinky solution at predators. This survival mechanism is designed to help skunks escape hungry predators.

How Do Skunks Spray?

A skunk’s primary means of defense are its anal glands, spraying a foul liquid and repelling nearby predators. These glands have specialized nipples that act as spray nozzles when the skunk is threatened.

How Often Can a Skunk Spray?

A skunk can spray repetitively in a short amount of time. However, some skunks may only spray once. Generally, skunks can spray several times in a few minutes. But when their anal glands are empty, it may take up to two weeks for their supply to replenish.

What Does Skunk Smell Like?

Striped skunks don’t have a horrible smell until threatened, but when they spray, you won’t be able to ignore the stink of rotten eggs and flatulence. Most folks describe skunk spray as having a very sulfuric scent.

How Long Does Skunk Smell Last?

Skunk spray is an oily liquid that is challenging to scrub away. Pets and people who’ve been sprayed by a skunk might stink for two weeks, sometimes longer. The oily nature of the spray makes it cling to surfaces until it is treated with a skunk odor remover.

Can Baby Skunks Spray?

Can Baby Skunks Spray

While baby skunks begin producing their protective spray as soon as they’re born, they cannot use this defense mechanism until they’re about four months old. As such, many baby skunks will stay in their den until they’re about this age.

Are Skunks Dangerous?

Skunks can be dangerous, and some may bite, though most skunks will flee or spray when approached by humans. Skunks infected with rabies are particularly dangerous. Pets or household members that are bitten by a skunk should seek immediate medical attention.

Do Skunks Bite?

Skunks can bite if threatened, attacked, or grabbed. A skunk may also attack and bite pets or humans if it’s infected with the rabies virus. If you are bitten by a skunk, you should seek medical attention immediately.

According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, skunks that are active during the day, seem slightly off-balance, or continuously make loud vocalizations may have rabies. If you spot a skunk lingering around your yard in the afternoon, it’s best to bring your pets indoors and contact your local wildlife agency.

What To Do if You Get Sprayed by a Skunk?

If you get sprayed by a skunk, it’s crucial to discard your soiled clothing and immediately bathe. Be sure to wash your body with baking soda, dish soap, and vinegar to help dissolve the oily skunk spray and keep your tub or shower clean./

What Attracts Skunks?

Skunks are attracted to pet food, garbage, rotting fruit, and vegetable gardens. They can also take up residence beneath woodpiles, loose stones, or homes. Essentially, food and shelter are the two things that attract skunks. 

How To Get Rid of a Skunk? Step-by-Step Instructions

If you want to eliminate a skunk, you’ll need to follow a specific series of steps. Otherwise, you may find that skunks return to your yard and home.

To get rid of a skunk permanently, you’ll want to:

  • Identify potential nesting spots.
  • Secure your outdoor garbage area.
  • Build a greenhouse.
  • Check your foundations.
  • Utilize a skunk repellent.

How Do You Get Rid of Skunks in Some Specific Places?

You may be wondering how to get rid of skunks that have found themselves in odd places. After all, skunks are known to creep beneath houses, burrow into yards, and form nests inside old piles of chopped wood. Let’s explore some of the ways to remove skunks from their typical hiding places.

How To Get Rid of Skunks Under House?

To get rid of skunks under a house, you’ll need to seal off all potential exits and entrances except for one. At the mouth of that single exit/entrance, you’ll need to place a self-latching trap. When the skunk attempts to leave, it will have no choice but to enter the trap.

How To Get Rid of Skunks in Yard?

To get rid of skunks in the yard, you’ll want to identify their nesting site and remove it. Woodpiles and stone piles are common hiding spots, as are areas beneath raised homes. You could also plant citrus trees, as skunks detest the strong smell of citrus.

How To Get Rid of Skunks Under Deck?

Getting rid of skunks under a deck is very similar to getting rid of skunks beneath a home. You’ll need to wall off the structure until there’s a single entrance/exit, then place a self-latching trap at that spot. Once the skunk is trapped, you can call animal services for safe and humane removal.

How To Get Rid of Skunk Smell?

If you end up getting sprayed during your DIY skunk removal, you’ll likely want to wash away the stink right away. But what happens if your dog gets sprayed by a skunk? And how can you get that lingering stink out of clothes? Let’s go ahead and answer those questions!

How To Get Skunk Smell Off Dog?

How To Get Skunk Smell Off Dog

To get the skunk smell off your dog, here’s what you should do:

Step 1: Mix baking soda and warm water. You can do it in a bucket.

Step 2: Add a small amount of dishwashing liquid. Agitate to form bubbles.

Step 3: Add one small container of 3% (or less) hydrogen peroxide

Step 4: Combine thoroughly. You should do this before massaging the solution into your dog’s coat. 

Step 5: Leave it in for five to ten minutes, then rinse clean. 

Step 6: Repeat as necessary.

Related: 7 Best Dog Repellents To Protect Your Family and Yard

How To Get Skunk Smell Out of House?

How To Get Skunk Smell Out of House

To get rid of a skunk smell that’s filled a house, you’ll need to figure out where the odor is coming from. Clothing, pets, and furniture are common culprits. Once you’ve identified the source of the smell, you can choose the right cleaning option to get rid of it.

How To Get Skunk Smell Out of Clothes?

How To Get Skunk Smell Out of Clothes

To get the skunk smell out of clothing, you’ll need to wash those clothes in a mixture of laundry detergent, warm water, and liquid dish soap. Be sure to use a very small amount of dish soap, as several tablespoons can cause your clothes washer to become a sudsy mess! 

Vinegar is also an excellent tool for getting strong smells out of clothing. Adding a little baking soda or peppermint oil to the wash is bound to help your clothes come out smelling fresh.

How To Get Skunk Smell Out of Car?

How To Get Skunk Smell Out of Car

To get the skunk smell out of your car, you’ll want to identify the sprayed area and treat it immediately. A combination of baking soda, warm water, and dishwashing soap is the best route. 

If dealing with plastic surfaces, you can use a spray and clean cloth to get rid of the smell. A thin paste of baking soda and dish liquid might be best for upholstered seats or car ceilings. You can use a cordless handheld vacuum cleaner to help clear away any bits of baking soda that might remain.

When driving, try keeping your windows rolled down to help air out your vehicle. In-car air purifiers can also help remove any lingering particles of skunk spray in the air.

How To Get Rid of Skunk Spray on Humans?

How To Get Rid of Skunk Spray on Humans

To get rid of skunk spray on humans, one of the most straightforward clean-up jobs is simply washing that human in a mixture of baking soda, vinegar, dish soap, and hydrogen peroxide. 

How To Get Skunk Smell Out of Furniture?

How To Get Skunk Smell Out of Furniture

To get rid of the skunk smell of your furniture, you’ll want to use warm water, dishwashing liquid, and baking soda. It’s crucial to remove any upholstery covers that can be machine washed before cleaning the furniture. 

Using a damp cloth, work your soapy mixture into affected areas, letting it sit for several minutes before patting dry. If you have a fan or wet vac, you can use those items to help your upholstered furniture dry more quickly.

How To Get Skunk Smell Out of Carpet?

How To Get Skunk Smell Out of Carpet

To get the skunk smell out of a carpet, you’ll need to use a combination of water, dishwashing liquid, and baking soda. You could also incorporate hydrogen peroxide, but this may stain some carpets. 

Soak a small bar towel or washcloth in your liquid, then wring the cloth until it is damp but not dripping. Gently scrub the affected carpet, using small circular motions as you work. Be sure to submerge your fabric into the cleaning liquid after each round of scrubbing. You could also purchase or rent a carpet cleaner to help you tackle more significant portions of the carpet.

Home Remedies for Getting Rid of Skunks

There are several commercial products for skunk removal and prevention. But there are also quite a few home remedies that might work for you. Some of the most popular home remedies for getting rid of skunks include:

  • Throwing mothballs into your yard.
  • Installing motion-activated lights around the yard.
  • Spraying the yard with an onion-pepper mix.
  • Planting citrus trees around your home.

How To Trap a Skunk?

Skunks with rabies can become a recurring and dangerous problem. If you’re afraid that your local skunks might be infected, you may want to trap your skunks.

To trap a skunk, you’ll need a self-latching metal cage, plenty of camouflage, and some bait. Be sure to contact your local animal shelter or animal services department, as they may have an extra metal cage that you can borrow to trap a skunk. They may also have helpful advice to share with you!

How To Keep Skunks Away?

After you’ve gotten rid of skunks in your yard or home, you’ll likely want to keep them away.

To keep skunks away for good, you’ll need to remove any attractants from your yard. Stacked woodpiles and loose garbage are a huge no-no, as they attract skunks. Of course, you could clean up your yard and still see skunks. When this happens, you may want to invest in skunk repellents.

What Keeps Skunks Away? Best Products To Use

You can use a variety of products to keep skunks away from your home. Some of the best skunk repellents are sprays and high-pitched noise generators, but these are only a handful of your options. 

Best Skunk Repellents

Some of the best skunk repellents include citrus oil , peppermint oil , ammonia , and predator urine . Of course, some of these home remedies to keep skunks away are a little bit more house-friendly than others. More potent chemicals and scents are best used in outdoor areas. 

Do Mothballs Keep Skunks Away?

Do Mothballs Keep Skunks Away

Mothballs can keep skunks away. Other everyday household items, such as ammonia or citrus oil, can also repel skunks. Generally, things with very strong, pungent smells tend to ward away skunks.

Related: Do Mothballs Repel Rabbits?

Best Skunk Repellent Spray

The best skunk-repellent sprays tend to be those that utilize strong-smelling plant oils or predator urine. Natural Armor Animal & Rodent Repellent Spray  from Amazon is an excellent example of a skunk-repellent spray that can help keep critters away from your home and property.

Natural Armor Animal & Rodent Repellent Spray. Repels Skunks, Raccoons, Rats, Mice, Deer Rodents & Critters. Repeller & Deterrent in Powerful Peppermint Formula – 128 Fl Oz Gallon Ready to Use
  • GETS RID OF and KEEPS AWAY Skunks, Raccoons, Rats, Mice, Deer and...
  • INDOOR/OUTDOOR USE - For Indoor Applications Use Inside Your...
  • EASY TO USE JUST SHAKE AND SPRAY - Comes With Comfortable Heavy...

Best Skunk Noise Deterrent

If you’re wondering how to keep skunks out of your yard, ultrasonic frequencies can be a powerful skunk deterrent. Devices that emit these high-pitched noises come in several shapes and sizes, and they emit tones that the human ear cannot detect. 

The AMERFIST Solar Animal Repeller  from Amazon is a fantastic example, as it’s weatherproof and self-charging. Of course, if you have pets, a sound-based repellent might not be the best option. These devices can irritate dogs and cats.

How Do Exterminators Get Rid of Skunks?

How Do Exterminators Get Rid of Skunks

Exterminators typically use non-lethal skunk traps to get rid of skunks. These small cages are often placed in skunk-friendly areas and lightly baited. When an animal enters one of these traps, the trap door will shut behind them, capturing them. 

Pest control technicians may return to the property several times throughout the week or month to check these traps for skunks. Upon finding one, the exterminator will likely transport the skunk to an open area for release, or they may turn the animal over to local wildlife agencies.

List of Sources

Behrens, J., et al. (2013). Skunk Ecology and Damage Management. University of Wisconsin. 

HSUS. (2021). What to do about skunks. The Humane Society of the United States.

Thurston, S. N., Brittingham, M. C. (2021). Skunks – Solutions to Common Problems. The Pennsylvania State University.

Low, J. (2013). State agencies urge skunk, rabies awareness. Missouri Department of Conservation.

Thomas Matthews
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