Warning Signs a Skunk Gives Before Spraying

why skunks spray

Some animals are more obvious than others when in your yard, but the skunk is by far the smelliest one! When skunks get agitated or afraid, they release a foul odor that is distinguishable from quite a distance. How can you tell when a skunk is going to spray? Why do skunks spray? What can you do to prevent skunks from coming to your yard? Find out the answers to those questions and more here.

Signs a Skunk is Going to Spray

When a skunk sprays, it usually means it’s the last line of defense. Skunks can give plenty of warnings before spraying, like:

  • Tail raised and shaking
  • Stamping of feet
  • Head and rear end towards you, making a U shape
  • Aiming of tail
  • Growling and spitting

A skunk doesn’t want to spray because the spray itself takes a lot of energy to produce. It can take up to 10 days to restore - so they try to avoid spraying when possible, unless they feel threatened. Skunks are easily frightened, so it’s important to react calmly to them so that you don’t further intimidate or scare them. If you spot one close by exhibiting signs of spraying, try to quietly back away before they spray.

Warn Skunks That You Are Coming

Skunks are docile creatures with poor eyesight, slow movements, and the inability to climb. If you give skunks the opportunity to feel like they can escape without spraying, they will most likely do so. Before entering your yard and potentially getting within spraying range, give then some signs that you’re about to approach. This is particularly important at night when you might not see them either.

First flip on your porch lights. Skunks may not see well, but a light suddenly coming on is a hard cue to miss. As you exit the house, make some noise. Even if it feels strange, it will let skunks know you’re coming so they can try to make an escape. Give it a minute to make sure any skunks nearby have a chance to scurry away and hide.

Check out this article about how skunks spray and some more skunk spray facts.

skunk in woods

Tips on Removing Skunk Smell

Sometimes you might not catch the warning signs in time, or your dog just doesn’t understand what the skunk is about to do. The commonly known home remedy of a tomato juice bath might not be as effective as you may think, but we’ve got some more ways that you can help rid yourself of the skunk stench.

If the spray happens to get into your eyes or your dog’s eyes, flush the eyes with cool water for several minutes. If there are any scratches from the skunk, treat it with antibacterial cream to help prevent infection. As for bite marks, see the vet or the doctor immediately in case of rabies.

It’s best to try and keep the smell contained outdoors, which might mean that you must wash yourself or your dog outside before coming in. It’s hard to get the smell out of the house once it in, and hard to remove the scent from any furniture.

After getting sprayed by a skunk, you or your pet should take a bath. Typical methods like tomato juice, vinegar, or beer baths, tend to mask the scent rather than get rid of it.

Here are some ways your bath can effectively remove the odor (for dogs and humans):

  • Baking soda bath - 2 to 4 cups of baking soda into hot water, soak for 15-20 minutes
  • Wash your body with deodorant soap or a grease-cutting dish detergent
  • Hydrogen Peroxide with Baking Soda - 1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide, ¼ baking soda, 2 teaspoon of liquid dishwashing detergent
  • A commercial skunk-odor remover

Even after you take a bath, the smell might still be there. Take another bath and wait it out. Eventually, the smell will naturally go away. For more tips on getting rid of the skunk smell on dogs, check out our article specifically for dealing with dogs who were sprayed!

Ways You Can Keep Skunks Out of Your Yard

Have you or your dog been sprayed before? Tell us how you overcame the stinky problem on our Facebook page. The best way to avoid getting sprayed is by keeping skunks out of your yard. From our skunk removal kit to our animal repellents, Havahart® can give you the tools to keep these pesky critters out of your space – and make sure they aren’t going to spray you or your dog. Check out even more skunk solutions here! Also be sure to sign up for our enewsletter to get expert advice on skunks and other nuisance animals delivered right to your inbox.

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