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How to Deal With Skunks

By Edited Aug 31, 2016 3 2
Striped skunk
Credit: Wikipedia photo by Dan & Lin Dzurisin, CC BY 2.0.

The striped skunk is found throughout most of North America, from northern Mexico , all through the USA, and into about the southern half of Canada. They were one of five skunk species found in the USA.

Skunks - la terrible odeur!

Skunks are an animal to stay away from should you encounter one, since they spray an oil from glands located near their rear, which is among the smelliest and most awful things on this Earth.[1]

When I was small, about five years old, we had skunks under our front deck. My dad was investigating them and they sprayed, but luckily he avoided it. However, we had to shut all doors and windows tightly and the house still smelled so horrid that my head was spinning. We later managed to capture them and release them in the hills.

Skunks are omnivorous and eat small animals and also things like berries, fungi, grasses, roots, and leaves.[1]

Their one feared predator that won’t hesitate to eat them is the great horned owl.[1] These owls have super incredible hearing and eyesight, but almost zero sense of smell.[2]

There are overall twelve species in four genera. Ten species are native to the Americas, and two are native to islands of southeast Asia (Sumatra, Borneo, and a few others). All have black and white coloration.[1]

Skunk kept as a pet
Credit: Wikimedia Commons photo by outdoorcat75455, CC BY 2.0.

Believe it or not, some people keep skunks as pets. Skunk owners testify that they make great pets, and are smart and super friendly.[3]

Some important things to know about skunks

1. If they raise their tails, they’re probably about to spray. However, they first often will warn you with being obviously angry, and they rarely attack unless provoked. They can spray up to 15 feet (4.5 meters), and can spray five times in a row.[4][5]

2. Skunks can potentially carry the rabies virus, which is transmitted through biting.[1]

3. The skunk spray can have such a strong smell as to overpower your senses. You may be unable to smell anything if you got sprayed, but others may be gagging and horrified.

4. The best way to neutralize the compounds in skunk spray is to wash with a mix of (1) one quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide, (2) ¼ cup baking soda, and (3) 1 teaspoon dish soap. Use quickly after it’s been mixed.  Lather it up, let it sit for about five minutes, and rinse. Watch out though because hydrogen peroxide will change the color of hair.[5][4]

Note: Any spray in the eyes should immediately be flushed with copious amounts of saline eye wash. Permanent eye damage is a very serious possibility, making this a medical emergency. An ophthalmologist should be seen as soon as possible.[4]

5. Skunks do not speak French, contrary to what Looney Tunes would have you believe.



Nov 4, 2015 6:34am
Skunks have definitely been hanging out in my neighborhood lately based on the early morning smells we've been having. Good information on these critters, I didn't realize they could spray so many times in a row!
Nov 26, 2015 7:06pm
Many years ago, I saw a skunk sauntering across my yard at 4am. I gave her ( or him) plenty of space to sniff around before she/ he went back into the woods quietly.

As an animal lover, I cant help but find them cute; especially the babies.
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  1. "Skunk." Wikipedia. 1/10/2015 <Web >
  2. "Great horned owl." Wikipedia. 1/10/2015 <Web >
  3. "Skunk Lovers Unite: A Look at Pets and Their People." National Geographic. 1/10/2015 <Web >
  4. "What to Do About Skunks." Humane Society. 1/10/2015 <Web >
  5. "Skunks & Spraying." Mass Audubon. 1/10/2015 <Web >

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