Even if you never see those distinctive black and white stripes, you know when skunks have been on your property. All it takes is one whiff and you know that these common pests have been visiting you in the night. If you do not want to encounter a skunk during the light of day, you need to take a look at your property and avoid common mistakes that could be drawing these smelly pests to your home.
Many of the things we do every day, from how we store food and where we put our garbage cans to how we feed our outdoor animals, can be an open invitation to skunks and other household pests. If you want to keep those pests at bay, you need to change your ways, and it all starts with awareness.
If you live in the country or even in the suburbs, you may have seen a feral cat or two. Maybe you even started feeding those strays to save them from hunger and make yourself feel better. There is nothing wrong with being a cat lover, and nothing inherently wrong with feeding strays – just be aware that the neighbourhood felines may not be the only ones enjoying the free meal.
Skunks love cat food, and leaving bowls of kibble laying around is a sure way to draw them in. Skunks are blessed with an excellent sense of smell, and those tiny noses will hone in on the cat food and lead them to the free meal.
If you must feed the strays, place the feed dish as close to your home as possible, and leave the outdoor lights on while they eat. Once your kitties have had their fill, remove the food bowls, clean them thoroughly and store them inside your home.
If you suspect that skunks have already found your home, you can verify your suspicions by watching for their distinctive tracks. In addition to cat food, skunks love larvae and grubs, and they will often dig up lawns to get the goods. Patches of lawn that appear to have been dug up are a dead giveaway, as are narrow five-clawed paw prints.
There are things you can do to make your home less attractive to skunks and other common pests. Keeping the cat food stored away is one strategy, but paying attention to how you store garbage and other household waste is just as important. Food waste should be stored in critter-proof containers and kept in a well-lit area. Using scented bags or other odour-blocking technology helps as well since skunks are guided largely by their keen sense of smell.
You can also use the skunks’ nocturnal nature to keep them away from your home and yard. Installing a bright spotlight on your patio or in your yard can help a great deal, as can the use of motion-sensing lighting. Skunks move and feed primarily at night, so denying them dark hiding places could convince them to seek refuge elsewhere.