How do I get the skunk out of my shed?
September 18, 2008 7:16 AM   Subscribe

How do I get rid of an uninvited skunk guest?

I have a very old, small-garage-sized shed, which I filled with construction/demolition debris during the remodeling of my house. I've only emptied 2/3 of the debris, so I've still got about 10 cubic yards of debris left.

And now a skunk has taken up residence. It's even left a nice pile of crap by the door. Since it would be impossible to seal up the shed (there are holes between the foundation and the steel walls), what can I do to lure or force the skunk out of there?

If I can't force it out, what is the best course of action? Just pick a day and finally empty the rest of the debris out, thereby removing it's shelter? I assume the skunk is actually in the shed during the day, and out of it at night. Would I have to empty it at night, then?
posted by LouMac to Pets & Animals (16 answers total)
I am thinking some form of urine for this job. You can buy it online and then spray it around in there to convince the skunk that the shed is not where he/she wants to live.
Take a look at THIS site.
If you have a dog, keep it away from the shed. A friend of mine just had his dog get hosed down by a skunk the other day. Not fun.
posted by a3matrix at 7:28 AM on September 18, 2008

Best answer: Easier than urine - take a clock radio or boom-box or something of the sort out there - you might need to run an extension cord. Turn it to the local rock station, or put a CD of the same sort on loop.

I doubt he'll last 1 night, but you might want to leave it for a couple in case he tries returning.
posted by allkindsoftime at 7:31 AM on September 18, 2008

Owls are the natural predators of skunks. Maybe some recorded hoo-hoo on that boom-box?
posted by three blind mice at 8:06 AM on September 18, 2008

Set a live trap with bait overnight, then transport him far away. Your municipality or (state?) wildlife dept may have traps for loan.
posted by canoehead at 8:16 AM on September 18, 2008

Best answer: I had some skunks living in my crawlspace a few years ago. I threw some mothballs in there and they moved out pretty quickly. My house smelled like mothballs for a couple of weeks, though...

If you do this, make sure any pets or kids can't get to the mothballs. Good luck!
posted by Mountain Goatse at 8:28 AM on September 18, 2008

Best answer: I was coming in here to recommend either classic rock (handily removed the bats in a wall in an old farmhouse I lived in once) or mothballs (repels every nuisance species from teenagers to flying squirrels) but I've been beaten to it. Therefore, I suggest a combination of the two. Nothing on earth could withstand it.
posted by mygothlaundry at 8:45 AM on September 18, 2008

Do you definitely know that it's a skunk? Because fox urine smells similar, in my experience (which, I admit, is limited).

Do you have grubs? If so, a grub treatment will remove the source of food and make your property less inviting.

I would hesitate to use mothballs, as they are toxic and I wouldn't want to potentially deal with a dead skunk on my property. I like the noise/music idea though.

Please check with the proper authorities before trapping and relocating. My parents had a couple of skunks under their deck for a few years. They called animal control to see if they would trap and relocate them. Apparently this is illegal in Massachusetts (don't know about Rhode Island). The only option was to have them killed, which we declined. We just dealt with the skunk smell for a couple of summers. We didn't go out of our way to avoid them or anything, and they never bothered us (and we used the deck frequently). Then a warren of rabbits moved in and they've been there ever since. So I guess the solution is to wait 3 years and find some wild rabbits?

I'm sure you know this already, but just in case: if you see the skunk during the day, please call Animal Control. Rabid animals are not a DIY situation.
posted by giraffe at 9:01 AM on September 18, 2008

Response by poster: I've seen skunks in the neighborhood frequently, so I'm fairly sure it is a skunk. There was one under my grill a while ago, which retreated in a face off with me and my dog.

I don't have grubs because it isn't digging into my lawn. But it is probably feasting on the crickets that live in the shed.

I'll have to call the state wildlife office to see if they can help me. But, in the meantime, I will try the mothball idea. I'm hesitant to try music because of the proximity of my neighbors.

Thanks for all of the suggestions, and please keep them coming.
posted by LouMac at 9:09 AM on September 18, 2008

Mothballs won't kill the skunk, giraffe. And pets certainly won't eat them. Put some in a tin can and squish the can so they can't fall out.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:09 AM on September 18, 2008

I recommend the live trap. you can be nice and move the animal. or you can do what "my friend" does and put the trap in a rain barrel. peanut butter and ritz crackers are his bait of choice. This time of year the yard always gets torn up from skunks looking for grubs.
posted by Amby72 at 9:20 AM on September 18, 2008

Response by poster: I wouldn't mind trapping, but I'd rather it be dead before I handle the animal. I don't want to get sprayed or bitten while moving the trap.
posted by LouMac at 9:37 AM on September 18, 2008

If you search ebay for "T041", you'll get a result of a live trap assembly that attaches to a 5 gallon bucket.

I bought one a couple years ago, and it works great. I think it's an ingenious idea, and it works well. You can trap a skunk, turn the bucket on it's end for transport, and never have to look at the animal in the eye. I was relocating some neighborhood sewer raccoons (yeah, they crawl down the storm sewers and freak people out) a couple years ago with a regular wiretrap, and they would get so scared when I approached the trap that I was afraid they would hurt themselves. I would think that you could safely transport a skunk with this thing.
posted by glycolized at 9:53 AM on September 18, 2008

Best answer: I am posting this answer for my friend Jeff who doesn't have an account, but has experience with skunks:

Put a radio in the shed. Tune it into some talk radio station and play it 24/7 for about a week. Not too loud, but loud enough to annoy the little buggers.

Duluth, MN has/had an urban skunk problem (I only lived there from 1990-1994, so I can't say if it's still going on or what). It was known to work. They don't like constant noise and the talking is varied enough that they won't get used to it either. They will move out on their own.
We had some in the backyard under a wood pile at the house I was renting way back when. We told the landlord about it and he ran an extension cord out there with a clock radio tuned to NPR. Worked like a charm!
posted by jodic at 10:04 AM on September 18, 2008

Canadian author Lesley Choyce and his family share their extended encounter with a surfeit of skunks in a short documentary, avaible on YouTube in three parts.

The above was a post "The Skunk Whisperer" (by CKmtl) earlier this year.

The videos won't give you a quick fix and the humor is very Canadian (a little self consciously precious, but actually quite dry when you get used to it!) but it gives you tons of facts about tenacious skunks...actually the 3rd video in the series has a fabulous twist right at the end of the tale -almost watching it all for that alone!
posted by Jody Tresidder at 11:07 AM on September 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

IIRC, the skunk needs to lift his tail to spray you. They are unable to spray in the live traps because they cannot raise their tail out of the way. As far as biting you, you'd need to stick your fingers into the cage for that to happen. The live traps have a handy dandy handle on the top and the skunk shouldn't be able to bite or scratch you easily at all.

No matter the method you use, you'll want to seal up those holes in your shed so you don't have to rinse and repeat the process.
posted by onhazier at 12:23 PM on September 18, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks everyone! I used moth balls and the rock music, and it seems that the skunk has left the premises. At least, I don't smell the skunk spray in or around the shed.
posted by LouMac at 11:07 AM on September 26, 2008

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