The day after our cat became the first skunking victim of 2013 of the family, our dog, Chase, became the second member of the family to get sprayed. If you have dogs and cats in our neighbourhood, you will inevitably learn to be wary of skunks especially in late July and August. We even go as far as getting flashlights out and checking the backyard out before letting the animals out. A sensible precaution that generally avoids late night de-skunkifying activities.
What was weird was letting the dog out mid afternoon on a blazing hot day and having a skunk waiting for him. The skunk was eating seeds from under the bird feeder. Skunk sightings in the day almost never happen. Anyway, the dog shot out, bowled the skunk over, and then turned to bark at him. The skunk merely got up, turned, cocked and… pop… skunk blast point blank in Chase’s face. Chase yelped and ran for the house and the skunk ambled off.
That night we learned another truth. The skunk or skunks had set up shop under our shed. The dog circling the shed and barking was a telltale sign. Okay, it is confession time. It was late in the season the year before when we got the shed and I started skirting the base of the shed before the weather turned. Instead of finishing the skirting, I filled the open areas with broken patio stones and temporarily covered the openings with wood. My neighbours, unknown to me, and before this ordeal, had named our shed “Skunk Motel”. It may have been empty for almost a year, but our open for business shingle was definitely out. So now that their nickname had proven true, I had to evict the unwanted tenants.
After hearing a bunch of people tell me stories of paying companies a bunch of money to get rid of skunks, I decided to see if I could do it on my own. I asked my favourite go-to expert, Google, for his advice. A number of blogs talked about putting balls of crumpled up news paper in every hole around the shed to track the comings and goings of our unwanted guest. They also suggested putting mothballs under the shed. Apparently, skunks are not a fan of that smell. So I threw an entire box of mothballs under the shed and plugged up the holes and waited to wave good by to our pest. After a couple of days, I could see the skunk was still coming and going.
Once again, I asked the expert, Google, for his advice. Several other blogs referred to a product that was available at the TSC stories that could be used to evict the skunk. The product was called Critter Ridder. The staff person at the store confirmed that it could be use to keep skunks away from the shed so that we could address the problem. I bought it and a bunch of heavy chicken wire. So far, my Google experts seemed to be on to something here. I followed the instructions and created an 1/2 meter barrier around the shed by spreading the Critter Ridder. I made sure our dog and cat stayed away from the error and waiting to see if the skunk would leave.
Later that night, we heard an awful ruckus by the shed, and then nothing. For two days, no skunk activity and the paper balls I had stuffed everywhere didn’t move. Hooray, the Critter Ridder product worked! Still, I didn’t wanted to be the third member of the Spiller family sprayed by a skunk in 2013, so I made a bunch of noise under the shed to make sure there was definitely no skunk there. No response. So, I look under the shed and could not see a Skunk. YEAH!!! Spillers 1, Skunks 0.
I pulled off the existing skirting and dug a trench a 1.5 feet deep all the way around the shed and the stapled chicken wire around the the entire perimeter of the shed and down into the trench. Then I backfilled the trench with dirt, and put the deckboard skirting back on. That baby was sealed tightly. No critters were getting under that shed again. The “Skunk Motel” was Closed!
You know that expression, “The best laid plans…”? Our Dog, Chase was happy to point out a slight flaw my closing of the “Skunk Motel”. As he happily barked at the shed later the same night, we discovered a very angry skunk trying to get out from under the shed. It was time to toss Google aside and call the experts.
So I reached out to Wild Things Wildlife Control (www.wildthingswildlifecontrol.ca/) and one of their guys came over right away. Step one, confirm skunk was there – check. Step 2, he cut a whole in my chicken wire and put in a one way door baited with peanut butter to allow the skunk to leave, but not return. Step 3, he sprayed a odour neutralizer under the shed to deal with any left over smells. Then we waited a day. When the Wild Things fellow came back, the skunk had left. He removed his one way door and patched the barrier. Job Done — thanks Wild Things Guy!.
While the Wild Things guy was there, I learned a few things:
- Critter Ridder is an irritant. The skunk only discovers it when he cleans himself and would probably not connected it with the shed. So Critter Ridder to evict a skunk probably doesn’t work.
- When skunk kids are involved, momma skunk doesn’t often leave until the kids stop coming back. And kids are often seen exploring in daylight. So evicting the kids may leave momma behind.
- All my noise making to make sure the skunk was gone? Well skunks don’t live between the ground and the shed. Mostly, they create a underground burrow. So, the skunk was likely oblivious to my noise making.
The lessons to be learned here? Don’t leave inviting places for skunks to live. When one does get a skunk, call an expert, not Google. And finally let’s use Google the way is was meant to be:
- Self diagnosing major medical conditions;
- Seeking self defense legal advice;
- parenting advice;
- and, getting directions to the nearest Timmies.