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If you live somewhere rural, or close to nature, you might get some unexpected visitors every now and then, including a skunk or two! If you have a homestead with chickens and eggs, you are even more likely to get a skunk passing by. The problem is that you need to prioritize your chickens and the safety of your homestead, so these smelly visitors aren’t quite welcome.
Skunks aren’t that scary compared to other possible wild visitors. However, they have one deadly weapon: their smell. Getting sprayed by a skunk is far from fun, and if you try to catch one, chances are you’ll be a victim of it. So how do you catch a skunk? Without getting sprayed, that is.
The best way is to use a live trap, with something that will bait the skunk, such as eggs, canned tuna, crispy bacon…there are many things skunks find irresistible if we’re honest. But how exactly do you set up a live trap? And what do you even do once you’ve caught the skunk? And if something goes wrong and you do get sprayed?
Don’t worry, we can answer all these questions and more, as we’re going to talk about everything you need to know in order to catch a skunk safely!
Let’s get right into it!
What You Need To Know About Skunks
There’s a saying about how it’s important to know your enemy if you’re going to defeat it. A skunk isn’t really an enemy (although to your chickens it will be), but it is an unwanted guest that jeopardizes the safety of your homestead. So…you need to know about skunks, in order to know how to deal with them, catch them, and send them away.
We will tell you the main things you need to know about them, but you can also look up extra information online. Or you could even find someone with a pet skunk and ask to handle them for a bit, to become familiar! (Because yes, some people have skunks as pets! Of course, they have their scent glands removed so that they can’t be sprayed and end up with a stinky house.)
But anyway, here are some of the basics of interest about skunks:
Skunk Hunting Habits
As a general rule, skunks are nocturnal and are most active to hunt during the early morning and the late evening hours. So you shouldn’t have to worry about them during the day. They also tend to hunt alone, so you shouldn’t have to deal with more than one at a time.
For hunting, skunks use their sharp claws and their digging abilities! So they can very easily get through by digging under a fence.
What Food Skunks like to Eat
Skunks are omnivorous in their diet, so they eat meat and plants. They love berries, fruits, and nuts, so they will absolutely destroy vegetable gardens. But they also eat birds, frogs, rodents, insects, and other types of small animals.
More importantly, skunks love chicken eggs, like a lot. So if you have chickens on your homestead, you need to protect them against skunks and other predators!
The Best Baits for Catching a Skunk
When capturing a skunk, you’re going to have to use some bait, so it is important to know what kind of foods you can use to lure them. As a general rule, skunks find any kind of meat-based oily foods with a strong smell highly irresistible.
Some of the things you can use as bait are eggs, crispy bacon, cat food, chicken, turkey, canned tuna, peanut butter on bread, marshmallows, and any similar ingredients you can think of!
What To Do if you Ever Get Sprayed by a Skunk?
We’re going to explain how to catch a skunk safely, without getting sprayed. But before we do that, we’ll tell you what to do if you do get sprayed, just in case! Besides, if your homestead is at risk of skunks, you might come across one suddenly, and it might spray you before you have a chance to react!
Skunks can spray from several feet away and have great accuracy, so don’t think that keeping your distance will help much. As a general rule, they will not spray unless they can see you clearly, and before spraying they will actually give you a warning, by stomping their feet and hissing. They will also turn around, to show you their back end, before they spray.
So the best thing you can do is read the signs, and avoid getting sprayed by quickly running away or hiding, or de-escalating the situation. Skunks spray when they feel threatened, so back away and leave the skunk be until you can formulate a plan to capture it safely.
However, once a skunk sprays…it’s too late. The smell is incredibly strong, and the complete opposite of appealing. Anyone and anything that gets in the path of that spray, is going to stink for a good while.
If you haven’t been able to avoid getting sprayed, and you’re now miserable and stinky, the solution is to quickly strip out of the clothes (we will deal with them later) and step into the shower. You might have to be in that shower for quite some time, thoroughly scrubbing your skin with soap until the odor is sufficiently reduced to a bearable level, and then you just wait it out until it completely dissipates.
Going back to the clothes, depending on how bad they’ve been hit chances are you will just have to get rid of them for good. However, if you think they’re salvageable, or you really want to try and save them, then here are a few different popular solutions to getting rid of a skunk spray odor:
- Try scrubbing the clothes with a mixture of one-quarter of 3% hydrogen peroxide, half a cup of baking soda, and one teaspoon of dish soap. After scrubbing, let the clothes sit for about 5 minutes, then rinse them thoroughly.
- Soak the clothes in a warm bath, adding two to four cups of baking soda.
- Rinse the clothes in strong vinegar.
- Wash the clothes with laundry soap and baking soda, and let them dry outside.
- Use a cleaning product that is specifically formulated to break down strong odors.
Oh, and the “remedies” of bathing in tomato juice, oatmeal, or beer, in order to get rid of the skunk’s smell on your skin…they don’t work! So save yourself from going through that effort and just use a lot of soap and a lot of scrubbing on yourself. And know that the smell will not be gone after the shower, the shower is just to make it bearable. It will take at least a whole day for the odor to slowly fade.
Catching A Skunk in a Live Trap
As we have already mentioned, the best way to catch a skunk, safely and without getting sprayed, is by using a live trap.
Live traps are completely humane and do not harm the skunk in the slightest. If anything, it will just cause some stress and anxiety for a little while, until you are able to deal with the skunk and release it somewhere safe. They work by using bait to lure the skunk into the cage, and once inside, the door closes, trapping them inside.
For skunks, it is a good idea to use a skunk-specific live trap, as these will also be spray-proof so that you don’t get sprayed when you handle the cage with the skunk inside!
If you can’t find a skunk-specific live trap, then you can use any other live trap, but we would recommend choosing one that is 17 inches, with a 7” x 7” opening.
Also, it is good to preemptively have a live trap at the ready, just in case you ever need it. Especially if you have chickens, as they always attract all sorts of predators to the homestead!
To help you out, we have included a few live traps that work great for capturing skunks:
- ★ Constructed of sturdy wire mesh with steel reinforcements for long life and is galvanized for maximum resistance to rust and corrosion. No chemicals or glues
- ★ Mesh openings are smaller than competing traps of comparable size to prevent escapes and stolen bait. Easy to use, bait, set & release
- ★ Spring loaded door and sensitive triggers ensure quick, secure captures that target the specific animal size, eliminating undesired catches
- ★ Solid doors and handle guards protect users during transportation, while smoothed internal edges protect and prevent injuries to animals. Trigger rod is located outside of the trap so animal cannot damage it while in the trap
- ★ Live animal trap cage is good ideal designed for large rodent animals, such as huge raccoon, groundhogs, possum, voles, rats weasels, for relocate or rescue streetwise wild animals
- Janitorial & Cleaning Supplies
- Country of manufacture: China
- Manufacturer: JT EATON
- Package Dimensions: 18.0" L x 18.0" W x 21.0" H
What To Do When You’ve Caught the Skunk
Once you have set out the live trap, paired with an irresistible bait for the skunk, all you have to do is wait, and eventually, the skunk should wander in and become caught. But…what do you do next? You have the skunk trapped in your live trap, now what?
There are a few steps that you should take, in order to ensure that the whole handling of the skunk and the situation is done with the utmost care and safety. The aim is to take the skunk away from your homestead, without getting sprayed, and without harming the skunk.
Here is what you should do:
First of all, you need to stay calm, so that the skunk is calm. If the skunk feels threatened or becomes anxious, it might spray, and if your live trap isn’t spray-proof then you’re going to end up a victim of the stink. So make sure only one or two people approach the trap, and that everything is done with slow gentle movements, and soft voices.
Relocate the Skunk
Next, the skunk has to be relocated, so that it is far away from the homestead, and can go back to the wild, where it won’t cause you any more trouble. If you’re not sure about how or where to relocate the skunk, we recommend contacting an animal service, or a wildlife helpline. You can also just do a google, to double-check the kind of area a skunk should be relocated to.
Once you have decided on the location, ideally a good few miles away, you will have to transport the skunk there carefully. In order to do this, the ideal transport is a truck, so that the skunk can be secured out in the back, without being inside the car and risking stinking it up.
We recommend covering the live trap with a plastic cover (make sure the skunk can still breathe though!), and securing the cage with ropes so that it moves as least as possible. Remember, the skunk must be kept calm!
When you get to the location, place the live trap down on the ground, and open it up slowly. Then back away and give the skunk some space so that it can leave on its own accord and make its own way!
Protect the Homestead
The final step is optional, but we highly recommend protecting your homestead from any future skunks, so that the whole process doesn’t have to become routine!
How to Protect your Homestead from Skunks
The main thing that attracts skunks to a homestead is the presence of chickens and eggs, as skunks find these to be a delicacy (as most predators do). So what you need to do, primarily, is protect the chickens and eggs from skunks, which will keep them safe, and in turn, dissuade skunks from repeatedly attempting to get to them.
Here are some things you can do to protect eggs and chickens from skunks:
- Install nesting boxes. These are great for protecting the eggs, as once they are laid they can’t be accessed by the chickens or any predators, and only you can get to them!
- Install high roosting bars. Chickens will naturally sleep in the highest place within their coop possible, as that is what is instinctively the safest option. If you provide them with higher bars, they will stay up there during the night, and will be out of reach from predators!
- Always close the coop at night! You can sometimes have an automatic system so that the coop always closes at night and remains as such until the morning, which saves you from having to always remember.
- Build reinforced fences around the area you wish to protect so that it is harder for skunks and other predators to access the homestead.
Skunks can be an absolute menace to a guest, especially if they go for the chickens and eggs. And catching them can be quite tricky, especially when they have their deadly odor as a weapon!
In order to safely catch a skunk, without getting sprayed, the best option is to use a live trap, paired with some tasty bait. Once you catch the skunk, you have to act calm, so that the skunk doesn’t spray, and carefully relocate the unwanted guest to somewhere a few miles out, where it will no longer bother you!