Skunks Can Be More Than Just an Annoyance

By Chris Williams on June 9, 2015.

We have a skunk living in the back of our yard. My husband says it’s not going to hurt anything and we should leave it alone. I want it gone! Can you tell me the downside to skunks (besides the smell) to help me convince him? T.W., Somersworth, NH

Absolutely! Skunks definitely do have a downside. In the right situation, they can be very damaging to your yard and property, and even your health.

1. Skunks get into garbage cans. Just like raccoons and opossums, skunks are attracted to people food and garbage and will knock over and chew or claw their way into garbage receptacles.

2. Skunks will den where you don’t want them. They often use abandoned burrows, but will also establish dens in crawlspaces, under porches, or in sheds.

3. Skunks dig holes in lawns and gardens. You can find many holes that were dug overnight as the skunks search for grubs and other insects to feed on. Holes are 3-4 inches and cone-shaped, or you may find patches of upturned soil (see Skunks’ Digging Can Damage Lawns).

4. Skunks will feed on garden produce. If you plan on having a vegetable garden, you don’t want that skunk nearby. They especially like corn and eat only the lower ears on the stalk (damage to upper ears is more likely from deer, birds, or squirrels).

5. Skunks will feed on eggs and may kill birds. Unlike raccoons, rats, and weasels, they won’t climb fences to get to a chicken’s eggs. If they can reach eggs, they generally open one end with the edges crushed inwards. Ground nesting birds and their eggs are also at risk. Skunks will also eat birdseed from bird feeders.

6. Skunks can carry rabies. Avoid aggressive or too-friendly skunks, or any skunk showing abnormal behavior such as being overly active in the daytime (see Rabies is Still Around!)

7. Skunks damage bee hives. If you’re a beekeeper, you will find that skunks will tear open hives trying to get to the honeybee larvae inside.

Maybe this info will get your husband to reconsider his position on skunks in your yard. At Colonial Pest, we have many years of (odor-free) experience in handling the wayward skunk. Give our nuisance wildlife experts a call today.


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