Skunk Facts

Skunks are a member of the weasel family. In North America, there are four types of skunks.

The most common is the striped skunk, which is black and identified by the white stripes running the length of its back. A striped skunk is generally the same size as a house cat, weighing up to 10 pounds. Their average length is about 24 inches.

Spotted skunks are smaller, and more weasel-like in appearance. They have white spots and broken white stripes in a dense black fur. Spotted and Striped skunks are found throughout the Great Plains.

Skunks are most active during the late evening and early hours of the night, but are active during the day, as well. Skunks can usually be found living in clearings, pastures, open lands bordering forests and on prairies where they will seek cover in the thickets and timber fringes near streams. Ground burrows, old hollow logs, old buildings, board piles, junk piles and culverts are all good places to find skunks.

Skunks prefer meat, but will also eat plants and vegetation. Insects, small animals, birds, eggs, poultry, worms, berries, grubs, and grasshoppers are also common food sources. Skunks are attracted to honey and also foods with a strong odor.

Good bait for a skunk includes any of the following: honey, molasses, peanut butter on bread, and fish eggs. Old, slightly spoiled meat also makes a good bait.

Signs

Skunk Tracks

Sometimes the first sign of a skunk is a rancid musk odor that seems to follow the skunk wherever it goes. If they remain in one place for long, the odor remains. Tracks are another good indicator of a skunk's presence.

Skunks become a nuisance when they burrow into the ground to find insect larvae. They damage lawns, golf courses and gardens. They will raid poultry pens and eat eggs. The eggs eaten by skunks will likely have been opened on one end, with the edges crushed inward. Skunks will tear into and scatter garbage refuse.

Pest Tips

Skunks are not wary of cage traps, so concealment of the trap is not necessary. Near den entrances, along trails, inside of and under buildings used by skunks are good places to set cage traps. Areas where domestic birds are being bothered are also good places to put traps.

Covering the trap with a tarp or a large piece of plastic is a good idea to help avoid being sprayed by a frightened skunk.

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