Humane Capture and Removal of Nuisance Skunks

We receive calls to remove skunks for numerous reasons. They are often found denning under structures and when cornered o during mating season will spray causing homeowners to look for a solution. They sometimes wonder into window wells and basements where the become trapped and we get called out to remove them. During the spring and fall seasons skunk will begin to forage in yards looking for grubs and earth worms causing lawn damage and this most homeowners wont tolerate the ongoing digging and we get the call to remove them.

Striped skunks are similar in size to domestic cats, weighing 6 to 14 pounds. They have pointed snouts and small, triangular heads with a white stripe on the nose and forehead. Typically their coat is black, with white stripes that extend down their nape and split into two white stripes on the back. These white stripes are as unique as human fingerprints, varying for each individual. The tails of skunks are wide, long and bushy, and can be all black or have varying amounts of white. Due to their short legs, they appear to waddle when they walk and are generally poor climbers. They have strong forefeet and long nails, however, which make them excellent diggers.

Safe Skunk Trapping

Breeding season typically occurs from February through March. In late April to early June, the female will excavate a den and give birth to 2–10 kits, which are born blind and helpless. If disturbed, females will move their kits to a new den. The kits do not leave the den until they are approximately 6 to 8 weeks old. When they leave the den, the kits follow their mother in search of food and will den with her in alternate dens until they are independent at two to five months. The average lifespan of a skunk in the wild is about 2–3 years, but they can live up to 15 years in captivity. During the summer months, skunks typically sleep in retreats above ground; shaded areas in tall grass, under shrubs, in thickets, or under decks and building. They do not show much fidelity to above ground retreats, but will re-visit them from time to time. Skunks are not true hibernators. When nighttime temperatures are above 30°F, skunks become active for periods of time. Thus, dog owners should beware on unusually warm winter nights. Skunks will be out and about, stretching their legs and searching for food. When temperatures stay below freezing, however, skunks will sleep to conserve energy.

Striped skunks are typically docile mammals that tolerate humans in close proximity without showing aggression. The most distinguishing characteristic is a skunk’s ability to direct a stream or spray of musk as far as 10 feet from paired anal glands. The musk is a strong irritant to the eyes and nose, and acts as a depressant to the central nervous system. If threatened, skunks will give many warning signs before spraying their potential victim. If the potential threat does not leave, the skunk will begin to turn its hind-end towards the threat and begin to expose its anal glands and the bare skin surrounding them. This is the last warning a skunk gives before accurately directing a stream or fine mist of its musk at the perceived threat. Striped skunks are omnivores and primarily eat insects, invertebrates, and fruit. They will also eat garbage, compost, and bird seed from feeders. Thus, they can be found around homes in urban and suburban areas. Their primary method of foraging involves digging and often appears as a single, small hole in a lawn, leaf litter, or sand.