When and where do skunks become a problem?


  • Author Dan Frankian
  • Published July 19, 2022
  • Word count 569

Skunks often become a problem when they build their winter dens in mid to late autumn. Though they do not hibernate, skunks do slow down and enter a state of torpor. Skunks will stay in the shelter for long periods and occasionally emerge to find food.

These dens are usually under woodpiles, decks, or sheds, where the skunk is protected from the weather. In some cases, a group of skunks share a single winter den. Skunks will begin to emerge from their dens around late February and early March; this is when they will begin to breed. The kits are usually born from late May to early June, and there can be anywhere from 2 to 12 kits in a single litter.

The females and kits will continue to use the den until they become more independent, around two and a half months after birth. A skunk with a den on your property not only means that it could be living right under your porch but that it will be spending a lot of time hanging around looking for food. Skunks are natural diggers and will rip up massive portions of grass lawns while looking for food in the ground.

However, the most common reason skunks are a problem is because of the smell.

Skunks spray not only when they are startled but also to mark their territory. Their thick, oily musk is hard to clean off both structures and pets. The odour tends to linger for days, even when it is outside. If sprayed from too close, it is also irritating and causes burning in the eyes.

Finally, skunks carry diseases and parasites. They are one of the major carriers of rabies and also transmit canine parvovirus and leptospirosis, all of which can be very dangerous to humans and pets.


Skunks under Sheds and Decks

We most commonly see skunks burrowing underneath sheds and elevated wooden structures. Because most sheds and decks don't have perfectly sealed floors, all the skunk has to do is dig underneath the structure's wall, and they are granted access to the protected and enclosed space. Though not as destructive as some other common shed inhabitants, skunks can certainly do a lot of damage.

Skunks under Concrete Pads

We also often see skunks burrowing under concrete pads, such as concrete porches, slab driveways, and bases for small structures like firewood sheds. Skunks like these places because of their seclusion: the concrete top and the fact that few other animals are as adept at digging give them a protected space to raise their kits. This can be detrimental to the property. If the concrete pad is weight-bearing, a sizable hole dug underneath can cause structural damages that make it unsafe.

Skunks in urban centres like Toronto and Mississauga and surrounding areas create problems by spraying your home or dog or ripping up your lawn and garden. More rural communities may find their fruit and vegetable gardens robbed and small poultry attacked and/or killed. We often receive emails and phone calls from people who need our help to:

Keep skunks away from the backyard;

Get rid of skunks from their yards;

Keep skunks away from homes;

Figure out what repels skunks;

Trap and remove skunks from under decks and porches;

Stop skunks from digging in their lawn;

Provide ideas for skunk repellent or skunk deterrent.

Part 2 of this article will follow soon

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