Skunks are nocturnal and, while they do not hibernate, they may be inactive for extended periods during the winter. They live in rocky crevasses or in underground dens that may be renovated woodchuck or badger burrows. In urban and suburban areas, skunks take refuge beneath buildings and in crawl spaces under porches and houses.
Two species of skunks are found in Kansas - the eastern spotted skunk and the striped skunk. The eastern spotted skunk, which has white splotches on its back and sides, is now rarely found in Kansas. A threatened species in Kansas and should not be destroyed. Anyone capturing a spotted skunk must contact the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks.
Eastern Spotted Skunk (Silogale putorius)
Striped Skunk(Mephitis mephitis)
The striped skunk is more common. The striped skunk has shiny black fur with two white stripes down its back. Striped skunks have varying amounts of white on the head, back and tail.
What's that Smell?
Stripes skunks' musk has a characteristic pungent odor. These shy, secretive animals discharge their scent only when disturbed or harassed.
Skunk odor is difficult to neutralize and persists for a long time. Household products that help remove skunk odor include ammonia, bleach, vinegar, washing soda, laundry soaps, smoke from a citronella candle and canned tomatoes or tomato juice. Warning: Do NOT mix ammonia and chlorine bleach. This combination may form a gas (chloramine) that is toxic if inhaled, even in small amounts.
Another deodorizing solution that you can mix from readily available ingredients is as follows:
1 quart 3% hydrogen peroxide
¼ cup baking soda
1 teaspoon liquid soap
Mix ingredients well and thoroughly saturate the areas the skunk has sprayed. Use immediately and do not store the mixture or keep it in a glass container. It expands and will break sealed containers. Be aware these solutions may cause color changes in certain materials. In treating pets, keep solutions away from their eyes.
Commercial deodorants such as Neutroleum Alpha as masking agent that are effective for reducing skunk odors. Neutroleum Alpha is available from the Ford County Extension Office, for more information contact 620-227-4542. When using chemicals always read and follow label instructions.
Skunks cause many problems. They damage lawns digging for grubs; den under patio slabs, steps, crawl spaces, outbuildings and in basements; release highly objectionable musk and carry rabies. In Kansas, skunks may also be infected with pneumonia, sitemper, leptospirosis, listeriosis, tularemia, and unknown viral diseases or carry parasites such as fleas, lice, mites, ticks, roundworms, tapeworms and flatworms.
Skunk Problem Management
Skunks problems, especially in populated areas. Skunks migrate from outside populated areas where food supplies have decreased following ditches, creeks, rivers and drainage lines. Mass skunk control is difficult. Mainly because poisoning of skunks may kill pets and other wildlife. there are no poison baits registered for skunk control in Kansas. Homeowners must take preventive measures to keep skunks from becoming abundant in populated areas.
Clean up and destroy dens and remove food sources by taking away exposed pet food, putting strewn garbage in sealed containers and carrying off wood piles harboring mice and rats. Block den openings in foundations and under steps using concrete with sheet metal or wire netting bent outward 12 inches at the bottom in an "L" shape. Destroy other den sites such as rock piles, junk piles, old cars and open buried culverts or pipes. Also keep lawns properly cared for to control grubs that attract skunks.
In cases where skunks dig a new opening near the patched one, thoroughly soak the den and surrounding area with slow-running water. Skunks seem to prefer den sites with good drainage. Since skunks are nocturnal, illuminating the den or other frequented area may also discourage them.