Skunk Infestation in a Garden

Striped Skunk (via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.0)

Skunk infestations in a garden can be a nuisance for homeowners. These mammals are attracted to gardens for food and shelter, and can cause damage to plants, lawns, and property. Skunks are known for their strong, unpleasant odor and their ability to dig and forage for food.


  • Damage to plants, including holes in lawns, dug-up bulbs, and eaten fruits and vegetables.
  • Strong, unpleasant odor, which can be an indication of a skunk’s presence or its spray.
  • Sightings of skunks, either during the day or at night. Skunks are nocturnal animals and may be seen foraging for food in the garden during the evening or early morning hours.
  • Tracks or droppings, which can be a sign of skunks in the area. Skunk droppings are similar to those of domestic cats and may contain insect or vegetable matter.
  • Damage to property, such as holes under decks, porches, or sheds, where skunks may seek shelter or den.
  • Burrow holes: skunks often dig burrows to live in and can cause damage to lawns and gardens
  • Presence of skunk spray: skunks have a distinctive spray which they emit when threatened, this is a sign of their presence and can be unpleasant
  • Damage to beehives: Skunks are known to raid beehives for honey and bees, this can cause damage to the hives and kill bees.

What is a Skunk

A skunk typically has the following features:

  • Black and white fur, with a distinctive white stripe running down the center of the back.
  • A bushy tail, which is proportionate to their body size.
  • Small, rounded ears, which are typically black or dark in color.
  • A small, pointed snout with sharp claws.
  • They have short, sturdy legs, and weigh anywhere between 4 to 14 pounds.
  • They have a body length of about 24 to 32 inches, with the tail adding another 8 to 10 inches.
  • They have black eyes and a white face, with a black nose and a thick neck.
  • They are known for their defensive spray, which they emit as a deterrent against predators.
  • They are quadrupedal animals and walk on four legs.
  • Skunk’s fur is typically soft and shiny, and it can be either black, white, or a mixture of both colors.
  • They have a distinctive “M” shaped white patch on the forehead, which can be a good way to identify them.

It is important to note that skunks can come in different subspecies, which can have variations in size and color.

Treating a Skunk Infestation

It is important to note that skunk infestations can be difficult to treat and it may be necessary to use multiple methods in order to fully resolve the problem. For example, exclusion methods can be used to prevent skunks from entering the garden, while habitat modification and repellents can be used to make the area less appealing for skunks to stay. Trapping and removal may also be necessary in order to fully resolve the problem. Additionally, it is important to take a humane approach when dealing with skunk infestations and always check the laws and regulations of your area before taking any action.


  • Use barriers such as fences or chicken wire to prevent skunks from entering the garden. These barriers should be buried at least 6 inches underground and extend at least 2 feet above ground.
  • Securing trash cans and compost bins with tight-fitting lids, or keeping them in a sealed shed or garage to prevent skunks from foraging for food.
  • Installing motion-sensing lights or sprinklers in areas where skunks are known to enter the garden. These devices can startle skunks and deter them from entering the area.
  • Covering any openings or holes under decks, porches, or sheds, where skunks may seek shelter or den. This can be done by using hardware cloth or other heavy-duty materials.
  • Seal any gaps or holes in the foundation of the house or in the walls of sheds, garages, and other structures to prevent skunks from entering.

Habitat modification

  • Removing potential sources of food and shelter, such as bird feeders, pet food, and tall grass or brush. Skunks will be less likely to stay in areas where food and shelter are scarce.
  • Maintaining a well-manicured lawn by mowing regularly, removing weeds and keeping it free of debris. A neat lawn is less likely to attract skunks looking for a place to dig and forage.
  • Keeping a clean and tidy garden by removing fallen fruits, vegetables, and other debris that may attract skunks.
  • Avoid using pesticides or other chemicals in your garden, as these can attract skunks and other pests.


  • Using natural repellents such as peppermint oil, ammonia, or cayenne pepper to deter skunks from entering the area. These repellents can be sprayed around the perimeter of the garden or in areas where skunks are known to enter.
  • Using commercial repellents designed for use on skunks, which can be found at many garden centers or online. These repellents may contain predator urine, predator scent, or other ingredients that can discourage skunks from entering the area.

Trapping and removal

  • Trapping skunks using live traps, these can be baited with food such as sardines, canned fish or other smelly food. Once trapped, the skunk should be relocated to a safe and appropriate location away from the property.
  • Hiring a professional animal control service to trap and remove skunks from the property. These professionals will have the necessary equipment and experience to safely and humanely trap and remove skunks from the area.