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How to Keep Skunks Away

An encounter with an angry or frightened skunk can be, well, memorable, and not in a good way. A skunk’s smelly spray has been known to stop even bears in their tracks, and the pungent aroma can be detected by humans up to a mile away. Skunk spray is actually a sulfur compound, and with a range of up to 15 feet, this form of defense for the critter can certainly become an issue.

To make matters worse, not only will a peeved Pepe Le Pew spray your cat or dog, or even you, but skunks can also ruin lawns and gardens by digging holes in search for grubs in the soil, as their diet mostly consists of beetles, larvae and earthworms. That’s why it’s so important to keep skunks out of your yard and garden!

How to Repel Skunks: Tips for How to Keep Skunks Away

Skunks do much of their damage at night. Bright lights are a great way to repel skunks, though are likely to attract unwanted bugs instead. Using a skunk repellent alleviates this concern. By using an effective skunk repellent such as Havahart® Critter Ridder® , you will be able to stop skunks from coming in your yard, ruining your garden you worked hard for and digging through your trash.

You can also create a homemade repellent to keep skunks out of a yard by mixing together cayenne pepper, onions, jalapeno peppers and water and spraying it near the entrance to the skunk’s den. Unfortunately, these concoctions don’t always work, and like our friend the skunk, they stink!

Skunk Trapping Tips

Along with rats and armadillos, some wildlife experts rank skunks in the top three when it comes to difficulty in trapping, so catching one can be a challenge. If you have a live skunk trap, it’s important to ensure you use the best bait for skunks. Baits that work to trap a skunk include canned fish (such as sardines), fresh insect larvae (such as may beetles), crisp bacon, cat food or bread with peanut butter. Simply place in whichever bait you choose in your skunk trap.

Skunk Removal Tips

Some skunk removal tips can help you dispose of it safely and effectively. Once you’ve caught the skunk, approach carefully with a towel or sheet and cover the trap. If a skunk can’t see you, there’s less of a chance it will spray. Another important skunk removal tip is to transport the skunk to a remote area far from your home for release.

Image: ndomer 

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33 Comments

  • Judy griffith

    I accidently caught a skunk in a humane trap. Called animal control. 3 hrs. later , sun was starting to get on her. A young skunk. Called the skunk recue, told me how to do it. It was not as easy as they said. But was not going to let anyone kill her or him. yes, my frined and I got sprayed. But we released him out of the trap. and he took off. My house smelled for 4 days. they are very cat like. Judy Griffith

    • 3:15 am - December 6, 2011

    • Reply
  • Michael Pieroni

    I would like to buy a Raccoon Trap that holes the baby Raccoons so you can catch the mother.

    • 12:01 pm - July 2, 2012

    • Reply
    • Havahart®

      Hi Michael,

      You could certainly use one of our traps to trap a baby raccoon in order to lure the mother and trap her as well, in an additional trap. However, it may prove difficult for you to trap the baby and not the mother. We recommend waiting until the baby is grown enough to survive on its own before attempting to capture either one, as you may capture the mother and leave the baby stranded.

      Please let us know if we can be of help in any other way!

      Thank you,

      Your Friends at Havahart®

      • 8:42 am - July 6, 2012

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  • R. Guest

    Better check your Fish & Game Laws, as, in some states it is illegal to transport any nuisance animal. You can catch the animal and release it on your property, however you cannot transport the animal to another location.

    It only makes sense, if you have a problem with certain animals, no one else wants your problem in their yard, either!

    Look up your state’s Fish & Game or Fish & Wildlife Laws before planning to transport any game animal!

    • 5:59 am - September 18, 2012

    • Reply
    • Havahart®

      We always urge our customers to check with their local Game Commission or Humane Society to ensure they are acting within their state and county laws for relocating wild animals. Thank you!

      Your Friends at Havahart®

      • 9:27 am - September 18, 2012

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  • Lori Schultz

    I have a skunk trapped in a live trap.What do I do? How do I get it out without being sprayed. Police department will not help. Thank you Lori

    • 12:30 pm - October 12, 2012

    • Reply
    • Havahart®

      Hi Lori,

      Be very careful! Skunks spray when they are frightened. To move a skunk in a trap, quietly drop a sheet over the trap, pick it up gently without shaking or jerking. In order to spray, skunks have to raise their tails, haunch up and aim. If the trap is low, and the skunk is unable to to raise their tail or turn their back to you, they most likely won’t spray.

      Please watch this video to help you know exactly what to do to release your skunk safely: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUP6VDMG_nA

      Thank you!

      Your Friends at Havahart®

      • 12:35 pm - October 12, 2012

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  • Crobar

    i am having problems with a skunk spraying my dog! dog got sprayed 2x last week. when i used dog food in the trap we caught my neighbors cat!! he was not happy, but the dog was excited!

    someone told me to try canned fish, the post says to use sardines, will tunafish work?

    is there something i can use and not catch the neighbors cat, time is of the most important thing? i want to catch it before hibernation!

    • 12:40 pm - October 22, 2012

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    • Havahart®

      Hi Crobar,

      Thanks for your question! Sorry to hear your dog has been getting sprayed by a skunk!

      You may consider trying bread crust soaked with peanut butter to catch the skunk rather than your neighbor’s cat. Also, skunks do not actually hibernate, but they will become less active and search for a warm place to stay such as underneath your deck. They are most active from dusk to dawn, as far as timing goes.

      Good luck!

      Your Friends at Havahart®

      • 1:02 pm - October 22, 2012

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  • Crobar

    should i be concerned about the kids playing aroud where i think it is sleeping during the day? also, how often will a skunk bite an animal that it has sprayed?

    should i take my dog to the vet to be checked? my family is a little weary about going out until it is gone, this seems like it could take a while!!

    any advise and help would be awsome, ill try the peanutbutter tonight.
    thanks for the help

    • 1:15 pm - October 22, 2012

    • Reply
    • Havahart®

      Hi Crobar,

      We’d recommend against the children playing near the “den” as skunks will spray out of fear. Typically, you do not need to worry about your dog being bitten if it has been sprayed, unless the dog persists toward the skunk. Skunks spray as their first defense mechanism, which typically dissuades the predator! Also, if your dog has his rabies vaccine, and no signs of bites, there is not a cause for worry.

      Has the peanut butter worked?

      Thanks!

      Your Friends at Havahart®

      • 9:21 am - October 25, 2012

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  • shane

    I just got one of your traps yesterday I have skunks and raccoons ripping through my trash so I put on on bread in the trap last night and this morning a raccoon was in it! He was strangely docile I took him far away to the woods and let him go tonight I set the trap the same and am hoping to catch the skunk or possibly another raccoon just wanted to say your trap worked great…and anyone wondering peanut butter is a great bait…thanks

    • 7:46 pm - October 24, 2012

    • Reply
    • Havahart®

      Hi Shane,

      That is great news! Thank you for your feedback. Peanut butter is the best bait for a variety of animals, so hopefully you have similar luck with the rest of the animals raiding your trash!

      Best,

      Your Friends at Havahart®

      • 9:18 am - October 25, 2012

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  • Sean J

    Hi, I just purchased one of your traps because I have had a skunk under my house for over a week now spraying constantly. I have opened a vent that leads to the house, but my questions are 1) its almost Nov in Chicago, will the skunk become less active any day now or do I have time still? 2) do skunks co-habitat with each other? 3) what are the chances that children are with a mother skunk this close to winter / do skunks semi-hibernate solo or with children/mates?

    I am trying to ascertain if I will be attempting to trap multiple Pepe’s, and if children still follow their mother around this far from mating / birth season (I’ve been told mating occurs in the Spring).

    Thanks in advance! As you can imagine, I’d like the little guy/gal gone ASAP as my German Shepherd has to stay in the house with the smell while I’m at work all day 🙂

    • 4:40 pm - October 27, 2012

    • Reply
    • Havahart®

      Hi Sean,

      We’re happy to help! We’ll answer your questions in order below:

      1) This really depends on the temperatures. If it goes below freezing, skunks can go into their ‘hibernation’ which is actually a ‘torpor’. It depends on the skunk, though, and the weather. In November in your area, skunks should still be semi-active.

      2) Skunks live their lives solo, but may hibernate or den with others during the winter. (More below).

      3) After 3 months, young skunks have grown and are completely independent. Because skunks generally live solo, there is a good chance this skunk does not have babies. However, if they have begun to hibernate, there may be several female skunks hibernating in the den with the chances of one male hibernating there as well. Skunks will den together when it is cold outside. As we said in #1, this should not be happening unless there are below freezing temperatures.

      Skunks typically will not spray unless they are directly in harm’s way, so your skunk may be spraying due to your dog. We would advise you set a trap and relocate the skunk you catch, then be aware of any others by observing signs and smells. Keep in mind, skunks will not spray one another even if they are fighting over a den.

      Good luck!

      Thanks!

      Your Friends at Havahart®

      • 10:18 am - October 30, 2012

      • Reply
  • Dave

    I need help. I had a skunk problem 2 years ago and now they are back again. They are under my house. I have a live trap and put peanut butter on bread and nothing happened. I added an open can of tuna fish, but still nothing. I smell is driving me crazy. I am open to any suggestions.

    • 1:05 am - November 22, 2012

    • Reply
    • Havahart®

      Hi Dave,

      Sorry to hear about your skunk problem! If it is a Havahart® trap, do you know the model number?

      The skunk may be wary of the trap because of a past experience. Another option is to try applying our Critter Ridder® granular animal repellent under your house to encourage them to leave. The granular form will work through low temperatures. We hope the issue is solved for you soon!

      Thanks!

      Your Friends at Havahart®

      • 10:26 am - November 26, 2012

      • Reply
  • Bruce

    I live on a acreage with a skunk problem, I have trapped several, but there are more we can smell them every morning. But, they won’t get in the trap anymore.

    Do I need to clean the trap, if so with what?

    I have been using peanut butter and have moved the trap. Would a different bait be better, what other suggestion can you offer?

    Thanks…

    • 10:24 am - February 20, 2013

    • Reply
    • Havahart®

      Hi Bruce,

      Cleaning the trap after each use is important, not only to ensure you continue to trap the animals, but to risk the spread of disease. Traps should be washed, disinfected with a bleach solution (1 part bleach to 9 parts of water and let it remain on for 20 minutes), and thoroughly rinsed after each capture to stop the spread of any potential disease. Animals frequently defecate and urinate when captured and it is unhealthy to put bait down unless trap is cleaned thoroughly.

      You may also want to try a different bait, such as cracknels or canned fish that would smell more and attract the skunks that are left.

      We hope this helps and wish you luck!

      Thank you!

      Your Friends at Havahart®

      • 2:04 pm - February 22, 2013

      • Reply
  • Jay

    I have had luck catching skunks but there has been a few times I have come outside and the trap door was shut the bait was gone. No skunk. Why?

    • 12:09 am - October 15, 2013

    • Reply
    • Havahart®

      Hi Jay, thanks for your question! Have you tried camouflaging the trap? This is an effective means to entice the animal. You can do this by placing twigs and leaves all over the trap to remove a lot of the glare from the trap. You may also choose to spray it with water and throw dirt on it. This camouflaging will make the trap look more natural and will cover up your scent from handling the trap. Skunks may then be more comfortable entering the trap farther so they cannot escape. It’s also possible your bait is being taken by other animals and camouflaging will also make them more comfortable with entering the trap. Good luck and please let us know if you have any other questions. Our customer care team can be reached at 855-5-HAVAHART.

      Thank you!
      Your Friends at Havahart®

      • 9:07 am - October 16, 2013

      • Reply
  • carolyn

    We are trying to catch our kitty that got out and has been lost for a week. The cages that we purchased work well…..however, we have caught several skunks but not our kitty. please help

    • 7:06 pm - June 11, 2014

    • Reply
    • Havahart®

      Hi Carolyn! We’re so sorry to hear about your cat – hopefully you find her soon! What have you been using to bait the trap? For cats we recommend fish, meats, oil of catnip, sardines and canned tuna.

      • 3:34 pm - June 13, 2014

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  • Lori

    I live in an apartment and have a skunk going in a hole into my crawl space. The landlord hasn’t been able to get rid of this problem. What can I do to lure them out for good?

    • 12:00 pm - July 14, 2014

    • Reply
    • Havahart®

      Hi Lori! Your landlord may want to consider one of our many repellent options to keep skunks away from the property! You can learn more about controlling skunks on our website: http://www.havahart.com/advice/critter-library/skunk-control Let us know if you have any other questions! Thank you!

      • 9:49 am - July 18, 2014

      • Reply
  • Brandon

    You guys should edit this article because telling a person to remove an animal to a different location is not good advice! In some states, such as New York, it is illegal to transport a trapped animal, especially a fur bearer! Unless, you have a NWCO license. In addition, let’s say a person traps an animal with mange, then puts that animal into her/his car, they may sprea mange I their own domesticated animals or themselves! Thank you!!

    • 4:42 pm - July 29, 2014

    • Reply
    • Havahart®

      Hi Brandon, thanks for your comment! We always recommend that our customers always contact the Humane Society, or the local or state game commission to determine the lawful method of releasing a captured wild or nuisance animal before setting the trap. Because like you mentioned, many species are protected by law in various states.

      • 12:24 pm - July 30, 2014

      • Reply
  • Bill Aliucci

    Need more good suggestions on what to do if you accidentally trap a skunk. Who would do it on purpose?

    • 12:26 pm - September 5, 2014

    • Reply
    • Havahart®

      Hi Bill! Once you’ve caught the skunk, approach carefully with a towel or sheet and cover the trap. If a skunk can’t see you, there’s less of a chance it will spray. Another important skunk removal tip is to transport the skunk to a remote area far from your home for release. Thank you!

      • 3:31 pm - September 15, 2014

      • Reply
  • justin

    It’s normal for skunks to be in pairs?or groups? . Reason is i did have trap one early sunday morning. Unfortunately animal control couldn’t get it till Monday, however i heard some more digging at my crawl space door early monday morning when i went to check the whole was bigger and appeared to be dug out more.

    • 9:16 pm - September 22, 2014

    • Reply
    • Havahart®

      Hi Justin! It is definitely possible that you have more than one skunk on your property.

      • 8:43 am - October 2, 2014

      • Reply
  • sue

    My daughers indoor cat got out. She wants to set a trap for him but is afraid to get a skunk. They will charge $100 to remove it. Any advise?

    • 5:59 pm - May 14, 2015

    • Reply
    • Havahart®

      Hi Sue,

      That is a possibility. We recommend using the best bait for cats: oily fish or catnip. If you do accidentally trap a skunk, approach carefully with a towel or sheet and cover the trap. If a skunk can’t see you, there’s less of a chance it will spray. Another important skunk removal tip is to transport the skunk to a remote area far from your home for release, but always check with local authorities regarding regional trapping rules and regulations. Good luck!

      • 9:43 am - May 15, 2015

      • Reply

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