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A skunk near a fence with foliage.
Striped skunk.

The common skunk is about the size of a plump house cat. They are not good fighters or runners but possess a strong-smelling gland at the base of their tail. When cornered or bothered, they stamp their front feet in warning and turn to aim their gland at their target. The powerful oily scent can be ejected for about 10 feet. If left alone they will turn and scamper away.

Like most wildlife, skunks stay in certain geographical areas as long as three life-sustaining elements are present: food, shelter, and water. Without these three items, skunks will not remain.

Skunks eat a variety of food. In spring and summer, they eat fruits, berries, eggs, all kinds of insects, small rodents, and reptiles. In winter, they dig small insects and rodents out of the ground. Their digging leaves little cone-shaped holes.

They usually live in underground burrows which they may dig if the ground is soft. Otherwise, they live in vacant homes of other rodents, hollow logs, rock piles and under houses. Skunks are nocturnal and are rarely seen during daylight hours.

To prevent or eliminate skunk issues:

  • Don’t leave food of any kind outside, including pet food. Food left out at night welcomes wildlife to the yard and may prompt future visits.
  • Cover trash containers.
  • Don’t trash leave outside in plastic bags.
  • Change automatic sprinkler settings regularly to prevent pooling of water.
  • Eliminate clutter in yard such as garbage, debris, lumber piles, etc.
  • Check fencing and eliminate access points.
  • Seal house and decking foundations to prevent burrowing.
  • Clear dense vegetation and thin out the lower 18 inches of landscaping shrubbery.
  • Scattered moth balls and ammonia-soaked cloths can serve as temporary repellents.
  • Life-like owl figures (scarecrows) are sometimes effective.

Contact Orange County Animal Control at (714) 935-6848 to report any skunk that is:

  • Injured
  • Sick
  • Dead
  • Has had physical contact with a human or domestic animal
  • Inside a building and needs removal
  • Caught in a trap and needs removal