How do you get a skunk to leave? 

Have you ever wondered “Why are skunks attracted to my property?” or “How do I get skunks to leave my yard?” – if you have you’re not alone! 

Despite their timid nature, skunks are considered one of the most dreaded yard pests in Canada due to the powerful odour they produce. They resort to this infamous skunk spray as a mean of self-defence when they are feeling threatened. The pungent scent can persist in the air for hours, and if you or your dog get skunked the unpleasant odour can linger on clothing, hair or skin for days or even weeks. Moreover, skunks will dig up lawns and gardens in search of food and shelter and can even transmit diseases to you and your pets.

This article will explain why skunks are attracted to your property in the first place, what risks skunks pose to homeowners, and how to get skunks to leave the area. 


A skunk's diet

Why are skunks attracted to my property?

As all animals, skunks need food, water and shelter to thrive. Easy access to these elements is what attracts skunks to your property in the first place. 

Food Sources: 

What do skunks eat? Skunks are omnivores meaning they eat both plants and other animals. Below we’ve listed the most common food sources for skunks around your home.

  • Lawns: Skunks are often attracted to lawns because of all the grubs and larvae they can dig up to eat. This is especially easy to do when there is a lot of rain, generally in the spring or fall, which is why you may notice more skunk activity during this time. 
  • Gardens: Skunks will also dig up vegetable and flower gardens to eat the roots, veggies and bulbs – they can be quite a nuisance to avid gardeners. 
  • Compost & Garbage: Skunks see garbage and compost piles as an all-you-can-eat buffet!
  • Bird Feeders: Unfortunately, bird feeders attract more than just our beautiful flying friends – rats, raccoons, mice, squirrels and skunks all love to munch on these seeds too. For more information on best safety practices for bird feeders check out our article on the risks of bird feeders
  • Pet Food: Your pet’s food isn’t only attractive to them but also to wildlife like skunks and raccoons and even bugs such as wasps. Additionally, skunks and raccoons can spread diseases to your pet through saliva transfer in the bowl, which is why it’s so important to never leave these bowls out without supervision.

Did you know?
Skunks can be found in every Canadian province except Newfoundland and Labrador. They are also notably missing from several islands such as Vancouver Island and Cape Breton. However, Prince Edward Island is not free from their stink as skunks were introduced to the island in 1915 by fur farmers and have since established a large population.

Water Sources: 

Skunks also need water to survive and will enter your property to gain access to it. Below we’ve listed some common sources of water that skunks may be attracted to on your property. 

  • Ponds & rivers
  • Pools
  • Fountains
  • Sprinklers & hoses
  • Pet water bowls
  • Bird baths


Are you wondering where skunks hide during the day? Or where they can make a den on your property? Skunks are poor climbers but efficient burrowers so they opt to build their dens low to the ground. They are also nocturnal which is why you often only see them out at dusk or at night.

Some common places skunks hide around homes:

  • Under your porch
  • Beneath a shed 
  • In a burrow in the lawn or garden
  • Beneath flower beds
  • Under a hot tub
Scared Skunk

How do I get rid of skunk smell?

If you or your dog has been sprayed by a skunk don’t panic – you simply need a good wash. Clothes can be washed in a machine and you can wash yourself with soap as you normally would. Dish soap or shampoo for greasy hair are especially effective against the skunk smell. The same goes for skunked dogs but ensure you use soap that is safe for their eyes. 

If you’re still smelling skunk in the house you’ll want to properly ventilate the space by opening windows or running your HVAC system. After the smell has dissipated you’ll want to change your furnace filter so the smell isn’t reintroduced throughout the home. 

Did you know?
Ever wonder why skunks seem to spray at nothing in particular? Skunks do this because they are extremely nearsighted and will spray at anything that resembles the vague outline of a predator.

Are skunks dangerous? 

Skunks are known for their smell, which is reason enough for many homeowners to want to put space between themselves and these critters. However, when skunks move in near your home they pose more serious risks to you and your family than just an unpleasant odour. Below we’ve outlined the major risks associated with being in close contact with skunks. 

  • Spray: If a skunk’s spray gets in your eyes or those of your dog it can cause a burning sensation and you should immediately rinse the affected area with lots of cold water. 
  • Rabies & Diseases: Like all wildlife, skunks can carry a variety of diseases. In fact, skunks, raccoons, foxes and bats are the most common carriers of rabies in Canada, and although human cases of rabies are incredibly rare, pets are at risk of contracting the disease. Skunks can also spread parasites through their droppings to both humans and pets. 
  • Property Damage: Skunks are known for digging up lawns and creating burrows in the ground. The unstable ground can lead to structural damage, especially to decks and sheds under which skunks like to live. 

How do I get rid of skunks?

Encouraging skunks to leave your property is easier said than done. These critters can be very persistent and it can take a lot of time to figure out what specifically keeps them coming back to your property. Below we outline the steps you’ll need to take to keep skunks off your property. In the pest control business, we call these “exclusion methods”, meaning ways of keeping wildlife away from your property humanely.

  1. Secure Food Sources: Close trash bins tightly, secure compost, don’t leave pet food or bird feeders outside unattended, etc…
  2. Reduce access to water: Limit the skunk’s access to water as much as possible, for instance by covering pools or hot tubs, keeping pet water bowls inside or fixing leaky outdoor taps.
  3. Soap or Hot sauce: To dissuade skunks from digging up your lawn or garden you can sprinkle diluted hot sauce or biodegradable soap over the area. This will confuse their sense of smell and make it harder for them to locate food such as grubs and will spoil the taste of any food they do find. 
  4. Wire Mesh: Use a strong wire mesh to exclude skunks from any burrows you have found. If you attempt to do this yourself, ensure the skunk is out of the burrow before you start. However, pest control experts will be able to much more effectively install these exclusion methods. Check out the video above where Wildlife Expert Gage walks you through the entire installation process.

If you’re still having trouble getting rid of skunks on your property it’s best to call in pest control professionals right away, they’ll be able to deal with any skunk issues efficiently and humanely. Once skunks settle into a location and start reproducing the issue becomes much harder to resolve. 

Are you in need of skunk removal services? Terminix Canada has you covered! We offer expert pest & wildlife control services for both residential and commercial properties with locations across Canada including BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. Call us today to get rid of your skunk problem for good!