Can skunks climb? Everything you need to know

Skunks are mammals that belong to the family Mephitidae. There are many different types of skunk, most of which live in North America, Central America and parts of South America. They are also found on the Indonesian and Philippine islands. 

Skunks are omnivorous, and eat a variety of things, including insects, small rodents, fruit, and vegetables. They also eat carrion (decaying flesh of dead animals).

Yes, skunks can climb, and often climb trees or yard fences to find food or escape predators. In this article we will cover:

  • What skunks look like.

  • Skunk behaviour.

  • A Skunks Diet.

  • Skunks habitat.

  • Types of skunk.

  • Can skunks climb?

  • The damage skunks can cause.

  • How to prevent skunks in your yard.

  • Other skunk related questions.

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Table of Contents

Description, Behavior and Diet

What do skunks look like?

Skunks are short, sturdy little creatures with stumpy legs. They all have the same basic body form.

They vary in size depending on the species, but the average length (including the tail) is between 20 and 30 inches (50-75 cm). The largest skunk is the Eastern hog-nosed skunk, which can grow to be up to 31 inches long and 9lbs in weight.

The most distinguishing feature of all skunks is their ability to spray a foul smelling liquid as a form of self-defense. This noxious fluid is stored in two large scent glands located near the anus, and can be sprayed up to 15 feet (4.5 m) away with remarkable accuracy.

Skunks can swim but will endeavour to stay on dry land whever possible.

How do skunks behave?

Skunks are generally nocturnal animals, meaning they are most active at night. They are also solitary creatures, and only come together to mate.

During the day, skunks will find a safe place to rest and sleep. This could be in a burrow underground, or in a hollow tree. In urban areas, skunks may take up residence under porches, decks or even in your garbage cans.

When skunks feel threatened, they will first try to flee the scene. If this is not possible, they will stand their ground and make loud noises (They can squeal, hiss, shriek, smack their lips, growl and stamp loudly).

Only as a last resort will a skunk spray its attacker. The liquid is ejected with such force that it can reach up to 15 feet (4.5 m) away.

What do skunks eat?

Skunks are omnivores, which means they eat both plants and animals. Their diet varies depending on the season and what food is readily available.

In the spring and summer months, skunks will eat mostly insects, such as beetles, grasshoppers, crickets and ants. They will also eat small rodents, such as mice and voles.

Fruit and vegetables make up a large part of a skunk’s diet in the fall. Skunks will also eat carrion (decaying flesh of dead animals) if they can find it. Often road-kill is a perfect meal for them.

skunks eat grasshoppers

Habitat

Skunks are found throughout North America, from Canada to Mexico. They are also found in Central America, as far south as Panama. The Indonesian and Philippine islands are home to Stink Badgers, members of the skunk family who have recently been classified as such.

The different types of skunk occupy a range of different habitats. Some types, such as striped skunks, are found in urban areas, while others, like the spotted skunk, prefer more rural surroundings like forest and woodland.

Most skunks will dig their own burrows to live in, but some will make use of abandoned dens that have been left by other animals. Skunks are not particular when it comes to their living quarters and will even take up residence under porches or decks if given the chance.

skunk habitat

Types of skunk:

Striped Skunk

The striped skunk is a species of skunk from the genus Mephitis that may be found throughout much of North America, including southern Canada, the United States, and northern Mexico. On account of its vast range and capacity to adapt to human-altered habitats, it is now designated as least concern by the IUCN.

skunks can climb

Eastern Spotted Skunk

The eastern spotted skunk is a tiny, lightly built skunk that may be found throughout North America, including the eastern United States and small portions of Canada and Mexico. The more well-known striped skunk is more weasel-like in appearance than this little skunk.

skunks sleep

Western hog-nosed skunks

The hog-nosed skunk (Conepatus leuconotus) is a pigmatocephalid skunk from Central and North America, with a length of up to 2.7 feet and weighing up to 13 pounds.

tree branches

Molina’s hog-nosed skunk

The Molina’s hog-nosed skunk, also known as the Andes skunk, is a South American skunk species. It may be found in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Paraguay and Uruguay at elevations of up to 5500m.

climb fences

Stink badger

The skunk family, Mephitidae, contains the genus Stink badgers, also called false badgers. They resemble better-known members of the Mustelidae family known as “badgers.” Only two species survive today: the Palawan stink badger or pantot and the Sunda stink badger or teledu.

Striped hog-nosed skunk

The skunk, or stink badger (Mephitis mephitis), is a nocturnal omnivore that lives throughout North America, Central and South America. This species of skunk is recognized as a versatile species since it can survive in harsh environments and withstand disturbances.

Can skunks climb?

Yes they can all climb to some degree. Skunks are decent climbers, and although some types of skunk are better climbers than others, some have the capacity to scale trees, fences, and even gain access to roofs of houses in certain situations.

Besides being able to scale fences and low walls. Some types of skunk may also use their climbing skills to enter your home

Skunks have strong claws that they use to climb, grab, and hang from various surfaces. Squirrels, on the other hand, are far more competent at this ability than skunks are. They aren’t natural climbers and their bodies are quite hefty.

The striped skunk is a poor climber. Although it can climb wire meshing, boards and other smaller scale structures, it rarely climbs trees because of its long claws.

The spotted skunks, on the other hand, is a brilliant climber that can easily scale a tree. It can even descend a tree headfirst.

skunks climb fences

How can skunks cause damage to your property?

Smell

Skunks can make your yard smell bad, which in our eyes (or noses) is more than damaging to a property. Skunks produce a noxious and potent smell that can be very harmful to humans if inhaled. The smell is produced by two glands located near the skunk’s anus. When the skunk feels threatened, it will release the contents of these glands, which mix together to create the potent smell. In some cases, the smell has been known to cause nausea and vomiting in humans.

Lawn Damage

Smell is not the only thing skunks are known for; they can also cause damage to your property. Skunks will dig up lawns and gardens in search of grubs and other insects to eat. This digging can leave unsightly holes in your yard.

Damage to built structures

Skunks can also cause damage to built structures by digging tunnels and burrows beneath them. This can include sheds, decks, concrete foundations, and other structures. Skunks will often make their homes in these tunnels and burrows, which can cause a lot of damage over time.

Upturned Plants and trees

Skunks may also strip the bark from young trees and shrubs. This is often done in the winter months when other food sources are scarce. If the tree or shrub is small enough, the skunk may even kill it by completely girdling it (stripping the bark all the way around the trunk).

skunk spray

How to stop skunks from getting into your yard

Here’s a list of strategies for keeping skunks out of your yard:

  • You can add a fence to your property that is more than 6 feet tall.
  • If skunks appear on your property, get a motion-activated floodlight that activates when they come near. Skunks are nocturnal and dislike bright lights. They avoid extremely bright lights because they hurt their eyes.
  • If skunks approach your fence, you may use motion-activated sprinklers to drench them with water.
  • Turn on solar-powered red eye lights that turn on at night automatically to deter skunks. Skunks will avoid your fence assuming these eyes are predators’ eyes, and they’ll stay away.
  • Attach a strip of smooth sheet metal along the bottom of your fence. Make sure the sheet metal is at least 1 to 2 feet tall, to prevent even the most tenacious climbers from reaching it.
  • Remove any branches that are close to your fence or pass over it.
  • To prevent skunks from climbing up onto your fence and over it, keep any items near or against it at a safe distance.
  • Skunks may be deterred from climbing over your fence by installing an electric fence along the top.
  • Sprinkle skunk repellant along your fence. Skunks dislike getting near chemicals such as ammonia or predator urine, which are used to repel them.
  • To prevent skunks from nipping through your fence, use treated hardwood for wooden fences.
  • Install a smooth material fence, such as PVC privacy fencing or concrete sleepers, as the finishing touch.
  • Concrete, wood, or sheet metal should be used to fill any holes or gaps in the fence.
  • Make sure your fence is at least 3 feet deep underground so that skunks can’t burrow underneath it.
  • Dig a one-by-one foot trench along the exterior of your fence. Attach wire mesh or poultry netting to the hole, along the fence side and the bottom of the trench. Fill the trench with dirt.
  • To keep skunks from digging under your fence and getting in, surround it with concrete paving.
motion activated lights

Final Thoughts

Skunks can be a real nuisance if they get into your yard. By taking some preventative measures, you can keep them out. Remember some types of skunks do have the ability to be able to climb, so make sure you do all you can to prevent them from climbing into your yard.

To summarise the climbing ability of skunks:

  • They can all climb to some extent.
  • Skunks are good climbers, and although certain types of skunk climb better than others, they all have a decent level of competence.
  • Skunks have strong claws which they can use for climbing.
  • The striped skunk is a poor climber but can climb if it needs to.
  • The spotted skunk is a brilliant climber that can easily scale a tree and other structures.
skunk removal

People Also Ask

Will a skunk spray my dog?

Yes. Some dogs lack intelligence when it comes to this, especially if they can’t see the skunk that just sprayed them. Make sure you take preventative measures to keep your dogs away from them.

Will skunk spray make a dog sick?

Skunk spray has been found to contain a toxic component that acts similarly to garlic and onion, which has already been demonstrated to be deadly in canines. This implies that, like onion and garlic, skunk spray may lead to death in dogs. Dogs may begin vomiting and having diarrhea after ingesting the spray.

What to do if your dog got skunked?

  1. Check your dog’s eyes for redness or irritation. If they are red or sore, wash them with cool water right away.
  2. Remove as much oil from his/her coat as possible.
  3. Look for a homemade skunk shampoo recipe online.
  4. Shampoo your dog in the shower or bath
  5. Towel dry.
  6. Wash your clothes.
towel drying dog after skunk spray

Do skunks climb on the roof?

Skunks are known to climb trees and roofs in order to get to food or shelter. If you have a skunk that’s climbing on your roof, make sure to take the necessary precautions to keep them away.

Can skunks jump?

Yes, they can. Skunks can jump 3 feet high, which is impressive for their size. This means that they can easily jump over a small obsticals if they’re trying to get into your yard.

What attracts skunks?

There are a few things that attract skunks, such as food, shelter, and water. Make sure to keep these things away from your property if you don’t want skunks to be attracted to it.

yard pond provides water for skunks
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Oliver Wright

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