Everyone knows skunks are smelly, but these creatures have many other characteristics you should know about. They’re unfortunately quite destructive when they decide to nest in or around your home. However, with a little know-how, you can easily detect their presence — or if your space is still skunk-free, take steps to keep them away before anyone gets sprayed.

How to Detect Skunks

The most obvious way to detect skunks is by their odor — but you may not know whether the odor is coming from a skunk family that has moved in, or from a skunk that just passed through. Here are some signs that skunks have actually made a home in your property.

Holes in Your Lawn or Garden

Skunks like to dig for grubs beneath the surface of your lawn or garden. In doing so, they create distinct holes that are about three inches deep. If these holes routinely appear in your yard, you probably have a skunk or skunks somewhere on your land.

Damaged Wiring and Plumbing

In the fall when temperatures start to drop, skunks may build nests next to or under your home’s foundation. They do not hibernate over winter like some mammals, so they enjoy the warmth that comes from your home. In their burrowing, they may cause damage to your electrical wiring or plumbing, leading to leaks and shorts.

Disturbed Trash

Like raccoons, skunks may sometimes go through your trash cans in search of food. You may wake up in the morning to find trash scattered through your yard and the lid lifted off the can.

Skunk Tracks

One set of skunk tracks may simply indicate that a skunk has wandered through your yard, but many skunk tracks on a daily basis indicate they’ve moved in. Skunks have five toes, and the tracks they leave have visible claw marks.

In addition to the signs above, you’re also likely to see the skunks themselves. They are nocturnal, so you’ll probably spot them at night.

How to Keep Skunks Away

If you suspect there are skunks in your area but are lucky enough not to have any nesting on your land yet, here are some things you can do to make your home and yard less appealing to them.

Secure Your Garbage

If your trash can is a constant source of sustenance, skunks may want to move in nearby. Make sure your trash can lid is secure. Place a heavy cinder block on top if necessary. Do not leave any unprotected bags of trash outside.

Secure Your Foundation

Make sure there are no open holes around your foundation. Consider burying metal mesh wire about a two feet deep in the ground around your foundation; skunks can’t dig through the wire.

Treat Your Lawn for Grubs

Brown patches indicate that grubs may be living in your lawn, and grubs are a common attractant for skunks. If you suspect you may have grubs, apply a grub treatment to your lawn according to package instructions. Repeat, if needed, until you’re confident the grubs are gone.

Spread Predator Urine

This step is not really necessary unless you have actually seen skunks roaming your land or a neighbor’s land. Predator urine will scare skunks away; you can buy it in granule form at most garden stores. If you’d rather not use urine, placing rags soaked in ammonia around your deck and porch can also deter skunks.

Keep Wood Piles Tidy

Skunks love to nest in old wood piles, so keep yours tidy, and trim back any weeds growing around it. Keep wood stacked in a single row, and use your oldest wood first.

Following these tips should keep skunks away from your home and land. If you do suspect you have skunks, don’t attempt to get rid of them yourself. Not only can they spray, but they have also been known to carry diseases like rabies. Contact Environmental Services Pest Control, LLC , to schedule an appointment for skunk removal.