Skunks are part of a healthy ecosystem: they keep our environment balanced by eating insects like wasps, hornets and grubs. Skunks are shy, nocturnal creatures that try to avoid confrontation.
Skunks are expert diggers and may choose to burrow beneath a structure without a foundation, such as a shed, deck, or front porch. To avoid conflicts, ensure your home is in good repair and remove food, such as bird seed, pet food and fallen fruit, from outside your property.
In Ontario, it is also illegal to trap and relocate an animal such as a skunk from its home territory. In addition to being illegal, trapping wildlife can leave young skunks orphaned, injured or spread disease such as rabies.
If you’re sprayed by a skunk
When provoked, a skunk’s main defence is to spray a foul smelling liquid at their aggressor. This spray can cause a burning sensation on the skin and if sprayed into the eyes, may cause temporary blindness. If you’re sprayed in the eyes, make sure you flush the area immediately with clean water and seek medical assistance.
Protecting your pets from skunks
To protect pets from skunk encounters, keep a close eye on them while outside during spring and summer months, when skunks are actively seeking lawn grubs. Although skunk spray does not usually have lasting effects, it can make your pet ill if ingested.
If you’re worried about your pet, contact your vet immediately. Your vet can also recommend products to clean your pet if sprayed.
Signs of a sick or distressed skunk
If a skunk is staggering, falling over, approaching people or pets, moving in circles, or has paralysed limbs, contact Animal Services at 905-896-5858.