Skunks dig holes because they are in search of food such as insects or edible fertilizers such as bonemeal or fishmeal. Skunk holes look similar to dog holes, so check for paw prints or feces left behind in order to determine what creature is digging holes in your yard. Skunks will also try to dig under chicken coops or pens of poultry kept in the yard.
Skunks usually dig in lawns and yards mostly at night, so spotting a skunk digging may be difficult. Skunk prints of their front paws are similar to a dog’s, but the prints of their hind paws are much longer than a dog’s. Dog paw prints are the same for the front and hind paws. Dog holes tend to be circular in shape, while skunks usually dig cone-shaped holes that are 3 to 4 inches wide. Skunk droppings often smell stronger than a dog’s. Each dropping averages 1 to 2 inches in length, while dog droppings can be much longer, depending on how well the dog ate and how large the dog is.
Skunks are attracted to a yard if it has food. Skunks are omnivores, but are more attracted to meat than vegetables. Never place pet food outside because skunks like to eat it. Never place meat in compost piles. Keep all garbage in metal containers that animals cannot get open. Skunks also follow after rodents, so making sure the yard and home is rodent-free will also make a yard skunk-free.
Skunks cannot climb fences, so they dig underneath fences in search of food such as chicken eggs or tunneling mice, which skunks eat. Any holes to the yard or underneath steps where skunks can burrow should be covered in fencing. Good fencing materials include chicken mesh or metal sheeting. Bend the bottom of the fencing into an L-shape. Bury the bottom of the “L” a few inches underneath the ground, with the bottom facing away from the protected area. This should discourage digging skunks, according to the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management.
Depending on your local laws, it may be illegal to trap, shoot or smoke out skunks from their burrows. For example, in the state of Pennsylvania, a hunting or trapping license is required to trap a skunk on your own property. Never try to handle a wild skunk since they can bite, scratch and can transmit diseases such as rabies, which can be deadly to people and canine hepatitis, which can be deadly to pet dogs.
Rena Sherwood is a writer and Peter Gabriel fan who has lived in America and England. She has studied animals most of her life through direct observation and maintaining a personal library about pets. She has earned an associate degree in liberal arts from Delaware County Community College and a bachelor's degree in English from Millersville University.