Beware! Skunk mating season is upon us. Now is the time to be extra cautious when letting your pets out in the yard in the early morning and at night.
Skunks come out of their dens between February and March for breeding. Once they find their mate they head back to their den for hibernation for another 5-6 weeks. From April to June, the mothers will give birth to 2-10 babies, known as kits.
Skunk food and habits:
Skunks are quite docile creatures if they are left alone and don’t feel threatened. You can’t exactly explain that to your curious dog, can you? When skunks feel threatened they give multiple warning signs such as raising their tail and exposing their anal glands before spraying. Their spray can reach up to 15 feet, so stay clear! Skunks are omnivores and primarily eat insects, invertebrates, and fruit. But like many other wild animals, skunks can thrive in suburban and urban areas where they can eat garbage, compost, and bird seed from feeders.
Tips for residents and their pets:
- Keep garbage cans and recycling bins secure and out of reach. Skunks are diggers and will raid through garbage bags if they are hungry.
- If you have a bird feeder, try to keep it elevated and out of reach.
- To help prevent your pet from being sprayed, turn on a flood light and check your yard for skunks before letting your dog out in the morning or at night. It’s also best to keep your dog on a leash so you have more control in case a skunk is lingering close by.
Oh no! My pet has been skunked, what should I do?
If your pet has been skunked, it’s best to call your veterinarian for advice. In most cases, pets do not need to be seen by a veterinarian unless they have gotten into an altercation. If your pet has been sprayed in its eyes, you can flush with water or saline for 10 minutes. We have provided a de-skunking recipe below in the event your pet has been skunked.
- 1 Quart of 3% Hydrogen Peroxide
- ¼ Cup Baking Soda
- 1 tsp Liquid Dish Soap (Dawn)
- Mix together and rub mixture into your pet’s fur, avoiding the eyes. Do not leave on for an extended period of time, the peroxide could bleach your pet’s fur.
- Rinse thoroughly
- Pat dry.
- Repeat as needed.
Photo credit: “Striped skunk kits on the loose” by Keith Penner licensed by CC by 2.0