A skunk is one of the most peace-loving, non-aggressive animals
you could ever meet. Skunks are also extremely nearsighted. They will only
"shoot" their defensive spray when frightened, and they give you plenty
of time to back off by stamping their front feet as a warning. Only as a last
resort will a skunk turn and fire the foul-smelling spray from his or her anal
glands. This spray is the only defense that skunks have. They can bite, but
that isn't much of a defense against a large predator.
Solving Conflicts Compassionately
Skunks do most of their foraging at night. However, it is not
uncommon for healthy skunks to appear during the day.
If you see an injured skunk, contact a state-licensed wildlife
rehabilitator. (Keep the name and
telephone number of a rehabilitator in your wallet or programmed into your
phone. Your local humane society, animal control department, or parks
department can usually provide this information.)
A skunk who appears ill is far more likely to have distemper than
rabies, and distemper is not contagious to humans. If you see a skunk who is
obviously sick, do not call a "nuisance wildlife" trapper or
"pest control" service. (They usually drown skunks to avoid getting
sprayed!) Call your local animal control department or humane society and ask
the officers if, should they find it necessary to euthanize the skunk, they
will use an injection of sodium pentobarbital so that the death will be
painless. If they do not use this method, please ask your local animal control
department or humane society representatives if they can pick up the animal or
if they can recommend a facility to which the animal can be transported. Please
also notify PETA's Cruelty Investigations Department (CID) immediately so that
we can contact the agency and offer to work with it to develop a protocol for
euthanizing animals via lethal injections. Do not leave the scene or lose sight
of the skunk until the animal has received help.
To keep skunks from frequenting your property, target the parts of
your property that attract them.
A skunk's diet consists mainly of insects. Skunks—along with
raccoons, squirrels, moles, starlings, grackles, and crows—dig holes in lawns
and gardens in search of insect grubs. This digging leaves small, cone-shaped
holes and patches of upturned earth. Many gardeners welcome the services of
skunks and other grub-eaters, since it saves them from having to kill the grubs
You can also prevent skunks and other animals from frequenting
your property by keeping garbage containers tightly sealed at all times.
Discourage the feeding of wildlife in your area. Such artificial food sources
attract all kinds of wildlife, not just the ones who are targeted.
Skunks look for places to make dens, so seal off sheds and
openings under porches and buildings. Like raccoons, they make dens when they
are preparing to have babies. If skunks have already taken up residence,
tolerance is the first and best approach. Once the young are big enough, the
family will vacate the area. However, if absolutely necessary, the family can
be evicted easily by making the area inhospitable by putting lights, radios,
and ammonia-soaked clothes inside the den area. This will prompt
"Mom" to move her brood to another location. Or, if (and only if)
there are no babies in the den, you can install a one-way door. For
information on sales of one-way doors and good illustrations of how they work,
go to tomahawklivetrap.com.
Once the skunks have been evicted, you
should not attempt to trap and remove skunks from the property. Trapping and
removing them will do nothing for long-term control, as the newly vacant niche
will quickly be filled by skunks and other animals from surrounding areas. Trapping
can also be cruel because when adults are removed, young and vulnerable family
members are left to starve. Relocating skunks—even to wild or wooded areas—is
illegal in most states and will likely result in their death because they will have trouble finding adequate
food, water, and shelter and won't have a natural immunity to foreign parasites
For more information about skunks, please download the Fund for Animals
factsheet on skunks.
Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.