Skunks are excellent diggers, and like to make their dens in holes underground. A skunk living under a shed or deck from April to September should ALWAYS be assumed to be a mother with babies. Be careful, as you don’t want to orphan the baby skunks. Skunks are excellent mothers and will move their babies to a new den site when frightened, but evicting a mother skunk always runs the risk that she might abandon or become separated from her babies.
What to do if a skunk is living under the shed or deck
Be patient with a mother skunk
Your first option is to do nothing at all. Skunks typically live in dens for short periods. Skunk babies are independent by the end of summer, when they leave the den and disperse from their family group. If you can wait until the babies are grown and/or have left, you can then close off the access point to prevent other animals from using the den in the future.
The mother skunk is living under the shed or deck because it’s a dark, quiet, safe place for her and her babies. If you make the den not dark, not quiet, and not safe using light, sound, and smell, the skunk can be convinced to leave your property and take her babies with her. All harassment techniques should be placed as close as possible to the den entrance, so the mother skunk can’t ignore them when she comes and goes.
Place a bright light outside the den entrance. Make sure it’s fire-safe. Skunks are nocturnal, and don’t like bright lights in their homes.
Tune a radio to a talk station and place it near the den entrance. Music doesn’t mean anything to skunks, but the sound of human voices is threatening to them.
Soak some rags in Apple Cider Vinegar or ammonia, and put them in a plastic bag. Poke holes in the bag to let the smell escape, and hang it next to the den entrance. You can us dirty kitty litter in a plastic bag the same way. These will smell like a predator’s urine and make the mother skunk feel unsafe.
Patience and persistence
Keep all of the above going for at least 3 days and 3 nights. You’ve got to be persistent to convince the skunk to leave.
When you think the skunk is gone, make sure with a paper test: either stuff the entrance with balled up newspaper, or tape a double sheet of newspaper over the hole. Wait another 3 days and nights. If the paper is still in place, the skunks are probably gone! Temporarily patch the hole with ¼” wire mesh until you can do a more permanent repair.
Excluding skunks and other animals from under sheds/decks
To permanently exclude skunks or other animals from under sheds or decks, first dig a 12”x12” trench around the shed or deck, then secure a piece of ¼” wire mesh along the bottom of the whole structure. Angle the mesh straight down into the ground for 8”-12”, and then bend it outward (away from the shed walls) at a 90 degree angle to create an “L” shape. Refill the trench. Make sure any animals already living under the shed or deck have left or been evicted first!
What NOT to do
Trapping and relocating a skunk might seem like the “humane” option, but it isn’t. Relocated skunks don’t tend to survive when they’re moved off of their home territory. Relocated mother skunks leave behind babies which are then orphaned without a mother to care for them. A mother skunk relocated with her babies will mostly likely abandon them when faced with a new, unknown territory. In Ontario, it is illegal to relocate any wild animal more than 1km from where it was found.
Every year, Toronto Wildlife Centre receives hundreds of calls about baby skunks orphaned because well-meaning people trapped and relocated their mother. Unfortunately, we don’t have the resources to care for them all.
Many humane removal companies will recommend putting up one-way doors so the skunk can get out but not get back in. One-way doors are a good option between September and December, when tiny baby skunks are unlikely, and the ground is still thawed enough for a skunk to dig a new den. Between April and September, one-way doors can exclude a mother skunk and leave baby skunks trapped inside; in the wintertime, a skunk evicted in this manner may not be able to find or dig a new den. Make sure the baby skunks are old enough to be mobile and following their mother before installing a one-way door, and don’t do it during the coldest months.
Animal Removal Companies
Sometimes the best and easiest way to get a skunk out of a den is to hire a company to do it for you. Wildlife removal companies are not well monitored or licensed, so it is up to you to ask questions about a company’s practices before hiring them. Consult our guidelines for choosing a removal company.