How to Catch a Skunk Under Your House: The ONE Thing That Worked


Let’s get something out of the way.  You do not want to “catch” a skunk under your house unless you need it tested for rabies or something like that. If that’s the case, leave it to experts by calling your county wildlife animal control. They have special cages with poly or plastic sheeting that is both breathable for the skunk, yet keeps the stink in. Skunks will spray once they are trapped.

Instead of catching, the better option is to make the skunk not only vacate but move far, far away. Let’s dive in to every crazy thing I did wrong (some which cost money) and then the one thing that finally worked and ended up costing me ZERO dollars! 

But first, let me share with you the phone call I received that ended up making me qualified to talk about removing a skunk from your home without calling exterminators.

There’s a Skunk Somewhere in the Building-Phone Call

It was a cool Monday morning, kids were just getting back to school and I woke up to this message on my phone…

Yeah. Hi everyone. This is Betty on 2nd Ave. I had sent a text last night about a skunk issue. All of a sudden my apartment filled up with skunk smell I wasn’t sure if it could be coming from the attic or the downstairs apartment that’s being worked on.  Luckily. It dissipated before it got too late. But this morning I still smell it strongly from the downstairs apartment. And I didn’t smell it outside a whole bunch. So it really seems like there’s a skunk somewhere in the building and I see a big hole near the foundation. I was going to look but I kind of hesitate. So anyhow, that’s it, have a good day, bye-bye.

My immediate thought was…how could I possibly have a nice day! And then I thought… oh it’s a cold snap and this skunk is looking for someplace to live over the winter.  Better get that skunk out of there….and fast!

Removing a Skunk from a House or Crawl Space:  What I Did Wrong

I manage properties.  And up until the day of Betty’s message, I had successfully ended the occupation of all types of animals from both vacant and tenant occupied properties with ease.  For instance, I’ve learned that raccoons hate music, so you simply aim a radio where they rest for 24 x 7 and they will pack their litter and leave after a couple of sleepless nights.  No one gets hurt.

Squirrels aren’t bothered by loud music but they hate, hate, hate strobe lights and will vacate your attic after about two days at the disco, Again…no one gets hurt.

Groundhogs will learn to live with both music and strobe lights.  They really hate pepper, but pepper is only effective for a couple of days which makes most groundhogs return.

But after lots of trial and error,  I learned that lavender scented Epsom Salts was perfect for stubborn ground hog occupation.  Simply toss handfuls if it into their entry openings and they will vacate permanently after about 3 days. And again, no one gets hurt! 

Skunks are Not Squirrels, Raccoons or Groundhogs

The first mistake I made was assuming that I could apply all my pest removal experience to the skunk.  I wasted days with music, which only annoyed tenant Betty.  Not only did she smell skunk all night, but she had to try and sleep through classic rock. 

Then I moved onto Pepper Repellent.  I bought 2 canisters of this stuff from amazon (link to product) which did work, but only temporarily. All it needs is time and rain to become completely ineffective.   The skunk came back, ignoring the residual pepper sprinkle. He also removed the steel wool stuffing I used to fill the former hole! 

I also tried the lavender scented Epsom salts, mothballs, plug-in ultrasound devices, my dog’s urine (which I retrieved with a severed 2-liter bottle taped to a broomstick).  I even ran a length of flexible pex plumbing through a hole in the kitchen floor, into the crawl space, poured ammonia down the pex and…..the skunk slept like a stinky baby.  Betty….not so much.

So if all of the above DIDN’T work in removing that skunk from under the house what did I do?

Revelations of a Stinky Skunk Situation – The Answer Hit Me Smack In the Face

It had now been a full 10 days since Betty’s phone call and I knew it was heading toward the expense of calling an exterminator, who may or may not be successful.  And so I asked myself: “what was the most disgusting smell I could think of that might also turn off a skunk?”  And during this brainstorming session, a familiar, noxious odor, traveled from 2 floors away, through 100 year old plaster walls and around the corner to the couch where I was seated.   My cat, Mr. August Greenwood, had just emptied his bowels in the 3rd floor litter box.

Now to be fair, my cat has an intestinal issue which makes his turds absolutely deadly.  It’s so bad that we have to warn houseguests that if they smell something deadly in the middle of the night to not be frightened.  I leave Lysol on their nightstand and after a quick spray, (hopefully) they’ll fall back to sleep.

But could it be, after all this time, my cat’s toxic waste could actually have a meaningful purpose?  

Preparing to Remove a Skunk from Your Home

I could barely contain my excitement the next day as I was certain this was going to be the answer that would make that skunk leave…for good.  But I knew I had to be smart about it.  The skunk had dug just one hole around the foundation and so I didn’t want to “block it in” rather, I wanted him to “not be home.”

From my research, there was consensus that September was too late for skunk babies.  This was good news because I wouldn’t want to block a mother from her kits and be left to deal with the residual babies which surely would have died in the crawl space without her.   

I also learned that skunks begin exiting their dens anywhere between 6pm and 9pm at night. So I figured I would get to the skunk property at about 8:30pm.

And to be sure the skunk was really gone for the night and not inside the crawl space, here is what I did.

Pre-Removal Work

That afternoon, I drove to the property and placed a few sticks over the foundation hole. I secured them on one side with a rock, but made sure the skunk could still get out of the crawl space without difficulty.  And if the skunk had exited through the hole, I would see the sticks had moved.

I went back home and waited for dusk. In the meantime, I began triple bagging my cat’s noxious litterbox in preparation for the evening ride.

Used Cat Litter for Skunk Removal

I got to the house a little earlier than expected at 8pm and to my delight, the sticks were swept to the side.  I went inside the building and listened for a good half hour to make sure I didn’t hear anything in the crawl space.  With that, I was certain the skunk was out for the evening.

I filled that skunk hole with my cat’s disgusting, used cat litter.  I packed it in as far as it would go and used the end of a baseball bat to push it further. Then I mounded a good amount on top of the hole. 

In addition to the hole, I sprinkled dirty cat litter all around the entire foundation.  I wore gloves and squished the clay, urine soaked clumps until they crumbled to the ground.  I strategically placed a tiny portion of cat feces at each corner of the house.

What were the Results?

Folks, I never saw that skunk, or any other skunk again.  But I’ll tell you what did happen.  I’m a member of the next-door neighbor app. (you know, where neighbors can communicate online with each other) and someone just a few streets away started complaining about a skunk invasion!

Could it be the skunk I evicted with cat litter?  I think Yes!  And that is why I re-apply dirty cat litter every couple of months.   It’s been 2 years; skunk free and I know it has everything to do with using my cat’s dirty litterbox.

So now, I know how to remove a skunk from a house crawl space…and so do you!

How to Get Dirty Cat Litter without Having a Cat

Please, do not let this stop you.  You know someone with a cat, call them and ask them to please bag up their cat litter and save it for you.   Every cat owner in the world would give you their dirty cat litter. 

Conclusion

Skunks are unwelcome guests in your crawl space.  They spray to mark their territory which means you end up smelling skunk all day.

Removing skunks from under a home can certainly be a challenge.  There are many products that claim to work but I found none of them worked on a skunk, or only worked temporarily.

Save your money.

Use your cat’s used litter box to fill a skunk’s entry hole.  Make sure the skunk is gone for the evening by placing sticks across their hole during the day.  Return at nighttime and if the sticks are moved, the skunk is likely out for the evening.   Don’t do this to a mother skunk with kits or you’ll be dealing with the smell of rotting carcasses….and it’s just not a humane thing to do.  

If you don’t have a cat, ask a cat owner for their dirty litter.  Surely you know someone with a cat…they will give you their dirty cat box litter.

Unlike Betty, I will not end this article by telling you to have a good day….but I will say: If I can remove a skunk from underneath a house, so can you!  Here’s some more information about skunk life, just in case you have more questions.

More Skunk fun FAQ’s

Where Do Skunks Live

Skunks are small mammals that thrive in suburbia, but due to the ever shrinking woodlands, they are finding their way into less rural areas which leaves them with slim pickings when it comes to a suitable home.  

While skunks prefer to create their own dens, they have also been known to use the dens of other animals or live under human dwellings and outbuildings if they feel safe enough…and that’s why Betty had to call me.

Are skunks nocturnal?

Skunks are nocturnal, but may also be active during dawn and dusk. This is called crepuscular activity.

What do skunks like to eat?

Skunks are omnivores, meaning they eat both other animals and vegetation. Their diet consists of worms, insects and larvae, fruit, eggs, small reptiles and mammals, and plants and of course, your trash.  Keep a tight lid on it!

When do skunks have babies?

Skunk babies, or kits, are born once a year and can be inside a den until late summer.  The babies are born with their eyes closed and covered in soft fur. Their eyes open at about 3 weeks of age. Kits are cared for solely by their mother and will die without her. They’re really kind of beautiful.

Do skunks mark territory?

Yes, skunks will scent-mark their territory to let other skunks know they’ve claimed an area. Which is why Betty could smell them!

Do I have skunks if I can’t smell them?

If you don’t smell them, then they probably are not yet using your home as a shelter.  But if you see cone-shaped holes 3 to 4 inches wide in your lawn or garden, then skunks (or raccoons) might be passing through your property and feeding off of grubs and other insects.  

How can I prevent skunks in the first place

Skunks like crawl spaces and dens that offer protection from the elements.

  • Install a barrier around your house so animals cannot access underneath it. Steel mesh is one example. The barrier should extend at least 12 inches into the ground and slope outward to prevent skunks and other den animals from digging underneath it.
  • Keep attractants like the refuse in your garbage can strictly contained with secure lids.
  • Clean up any fallen fruit from trees and bushes, and fence in your vegetable gardens to prevent skunks from using them as a food source.
  • Clean up birdfeed dropped on the ground from a feeder.
  • Treat your lawns for grubs.

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