Skunks live in all 50 states in both rural and urban areas. They are often feared because of their foul-smelling spray, but skunks are generally not aggressive unless they feel threatened. It is best to avoid them, but if you should come across one, here are some things you should and shouldn’t do.
One of the best ways to avoid running into a skunk is to not go out when they are active. Skunks are nocturnal, so you are more likely to see them at night. If you have a dog, try to walk it before it gets dark to reduce your chances of encountering a skunk. If you have to walk your dog at night, stick to well-lit areas.
Look for entrances to skunk dens. They are often located under wood and rock piles, buildings, porches, and concrete slabs and in culverts, rock crevices, and standing or fallen hollow trees. The outside of a skunk den will be a smooth, grass-free depression three or four inches wide with a musky odor. You may see droppings or staggered tracks with five toe marks outside the entrance to a den. If you see a skunk den, it is best to steer clear of it.
Skunks only spray if they feel threatened. If you see one, stay away from it, and it will leave you alone. Keep a close eye on your pets to make sure they don’t approach a skunk.
A skunk that is startled or afraid will signal that it plans to spray by raising its tail, standing on its hind legs, and stomping its feet on the ground. If you see a skunk displaying any of these behaviors, slowly and quietly back away. Don’t make loud noises, move quickly, or do anything else that could be considered threatening.
Skunks have poor eyesight and will sometimes approach people who are standing still. If a skunk approaches you, calmly turn around and walk away.
If you or your pet gets sprayed, make a solution of one quart 3 percent hydrogen peroxide, ¼ cup of baking soda, and one or two teaspoons of dishwashing liquid and bathe with it. Be careful not to get it in your eyes. The solution is unstable, so you should use it right away and pour any that is left over down the drain while running water. If you are sprayed in your eyes, flush them immediately with water.