When threatened, some people make inappropriate jokes or act highly confident as defense mechanisms. Skunks, on the other hand, release a foul-smelling spray.
And while most of their time is spent sleeping and foraging for food (including many insects and rodents widely considered pests), some people (understandably) don’t want skunks living in their yard—especially if they have dogs or other outdoor pets. In that case, here’s how to tell whether skunks are living on your property, and how to prevent them from moving in in the first place.
Signs skunks may be living in your yard
Because skunks are nocturnal, you may only find out that one or more of the critters are living near your home after your dog returns from their backyard potty break before bed reeking of their familiar, pungent odor.
But because this is the type of situation you’re looking to avoid, keep an eye out for these other signs a skunk (or several) may be living in your yard:
- Persistent, faint musky smells under a building or woodpile
- Small, shallow holes in the lawn (caused by skunks foraging for grubs)
- Plants knocked over
- Damage to the lower leaves or ears of ripening garden crops (including corn)
How to keep skunks out of your yard
The best way to prevent skunks from moving into your yard is to make it inhospitable enough for them to want to live somewhere else. This isn’t about harming the skunks in any way, but if you’ve inadvertently created luxury skunk accommodation behind your own home, you may want to make it a little less welcoming. Here’s how to do that:
Stop feeding them
If you are feeding the birds, you are also feeding the skunks. Sure, putting bird feeders high up on poles helps a little, but think about how much of that bird seed ends up on the ground, providing skunks with an all-you-can-eat buffet.
The same is true of feeding your pets outdoors. Skunks don’t care if your cat or dog’s name is printed on their bowl; they’re going to help themselves to Fluffy’s Fancy Feast.
Stop indirectly feeding them
Even if you aren’t intentionally feeding the skunks, you may be doing so indirectly, by having an easily accessible garden full of fresh produce for them, or failing to secure the lids on your garbage cans (they’re not picky).
Create a housing shortage
In addition to food, skunks also need shelter, and your backyard may be full of move-in-ready housing for them. Some of their favorite real estate includes:
- Wood and rock piles
- Elevated sheds and other outbuildings
- Dog houses
- Openings under concrete slabs
- Crawl spaces under porches
- Other partially sheltered outdoor nooks and corners
For the most part, these aren’t structures you can simply move or get rid of, so do your best to ensure they are as secure as possible, eliminating (or at least temporarily covering) any potential points of entry.