Skunks are animals famous for using odor spray to deter predators, and when people see them in their yards, they often wonder how did they get there. Can skunks climb? Did they climb over the fence or a tree?
As it turns out, it’s more likely that they dug under the fence instead of climbing over it. This doesn’t mean that they can’t climb at all, though. This article will set the record straight when it comes to understanding how well skunks climb and what dangers they pose to your home.
Can Skunks Climb
Skunks are known to be burrowing animals, with muscular legs and long claws made for digging. What many people don’t know is that skunks can climb too.
However, not all skunks are good at climbing as there are three genera of skunks. Let’s take a look.
Do Skunks Climb Trees
Most skunks can’t climb trees. Their bodies are too stocky and unagile to be able to climb since a tree is a vertical climbing surface with no obvious open ridges to provide any real purchase. Instead, they are exceptional diggers by nature.
If cornered, a skunk will stand its ground rather than climb a tree.
The only reason a skunk would climb a tree is for food, and while this behavior is rarely seen, it has been documented with eastern spotted skunks. These skunks are agile for their breed and they’re good climbers in comparison to other skunk subspecies.
They have been spotted eating honey and bees whilst climbing trees and digging into beehives.
Can Skunks Climb Over Fences
Depending on how tall the fence is, it’s possible for a skunk to climb over a fence. Spotted skunks, which are lighter and more agile than hog-nosed and striped skunks, could easily climb over a low fence to get into your yard.
Tall fences, up to 6 feet or more, might prove unclimbable to skunks.
The issue is – a skunk’s instinct isn’t to climb a fence, it’s to dig under it. Because of their great digging abilities, skunks can easily dig a tunnel under a fence, unless you planted it into the ground that is.
Can Skunks Climb Walls
Walls are notably easier to climb than fences and trees because there are no ridges for animals can grab onto and the bark is too hard for them to break the surface with their claws.
Because of this, it’s unlikely a skunk will be able to climb over a wall. However, the issue with fences applies here as well – skunks are capable of simply digging under the wall to get into your yard.
Can Skunks Climb Onto Your Roof
Believe it or not, skunks can climb onto your roof – provided there is a clear path for them. For example, if there’s a tree branch hanging low over the roof, a skunk could walk on it to get to your roof.
This, however, is highly unlikely. Not only is it unlikely for a skunk to climb onto your roof because there’s rarely any food for them there, but it’s unlikely for them to climb trees in general.
We know that spotted skunks sometimes climb trees to get food, but what would a spotted skunk look for on your roof? People are often paranoid about skunks establishing a den in their chimneys.
While this is technically possible, it’s also highly unlikely. Animals instinctively avoid smoke, there’s no food on the roof, and on top of that, skunks are so good at digging that living in the chimney makes no sense for them.
If there is a skunk on top of your roof, it most likely got there by accident.
Skunk Around Your Home and Yard
If you’re seeing skunks around your property, you’re probably wondering if they’re dangerous to you and your family, what kind of damage can they cause, and what’s attracting them to your home.
So how much of a danger are they really?
Will Skunks Damage Your Property
Although not too damaging, there are a few things that skunk regularly do when invading human homes. They’re known to dig dens, rummage through trash, and cause lawn damage.
Creating a den can damage your home and your garden in several ways. Firstly, it damages soil integrity, which will most definitely have a negative effect on the fruits and vegetables in your garden.
Moreover, they can damage the foundations of a building by digging a den just underneath. Skunk dens are large, and creating a large enough hole underneath your foundations can cause instability or even cause the foundations to break down.
Scavenging in Trash
Since they’re omnivorous, skunks will eat anything that they find. That includes anything left behind by humans. They have learned that they can knock over trash cans and find easy pickings once the lid is off.
This, obviously, is an unpleasant experience for anyone who has woken up to the sight of the entire contents of a trash can spread around their yard.
Aside from making a mess, skunks are known to exhibit predatory behavior at times. They’ll prey upon poultry, steal your eggs, and eat vegetables from your garden.
In late spring and early summer, skunks will dig around your lawn looking for grubs. This leaves behind distinct cone-shaped holes that need to be patched up.
Lawn damage can be the most common type of damage caused by skunks. Foundation damage caused by burrowing is rare in comparison, as skunks are not in the habit of wanting to burrow in a place frequented by people (unless they have no choice).
Do Skunks Carry Disease
Despite the almost-lovable representation of skunks on TV in the form of Pepé Le Pew, skunks are far from docile. In reality, these dangerous animals carry diseases and pose quite a danger in some ways.
This is why it’s highly recommended not to engage skunks if you find them in your yard. Call animal control and leave it to the pros.
Let’s take a look at what risks skunks pose to people.
Skunks are famous for the odor they release when they feel threatened. Many animals use this method, but skunks have really perfected it.
If a skunk feels cornered, it will spray a very pungent odor (after hissing, hopping, and stomping its feet, and otherwise signaling you to back off) at you. It can accurately strike a target from 10 feet away, and it will spray more than once to get you to back off.
Not only does the odor smell terrible, but it can also irritate the eyes if it comes into contact and causes temporary blindness. Some victims reported difficulty breathing, as well as nausea, and vomiting.
Odor can be removed (or at least mitigated) with a solution of 1 cup of baking soda, 1 quart of hydrogen peroxide, and 1 tablespoon of dish detergent.
Rabies and Lyme Disease
According to a CDC study, up to 20% of the US skunk population carries the disease rabies. In terms of Lyme disease, skunks are considered to be vectors. This means that saliva can carry bacterias that are known to cause Lyme disease.
Both rabies and Lyme disease can be transmitted to people through bites or if their saliva gets onto a fresh wound, or in the eyes or mouth.
If you or someone you know is bitten by a skunk, it’s important to seek professional help as soon as possible.
Fleas and Ticks
Ticks, which are also known to carry Lyme disease, are often found on skunks (and other wild animals, for that matter). Coming into contact with a skunk might lead the ticks to you.
Just like with dogs, fleas will converge on a skunk, especially if it has an open wound. If a skunk invades your home or lives close to your home, it’s possible that the fleas or ticks could get transferred to your dog.
How to Get Rid of Skunks
I highly recommend that you do not tackle a skunk on your own. These animals are not afraid of fighting and their bite is reported as being terribly painful. Plus the fact, they’re capable of transferring rabies and/or bacteria that can contain Lyme disease.
Although altercations with people are rare – a skunk will attack you if it feels threatened.
Because of this – the safest way of removing a skunk is by calling animal control and letting them handle it.
To prevent skunks from ever returning, make sure to install sturdy metal fences around your entire property. The fences should be dug at least a foot into the ground, otherwise, skunks will be able to simply dig a tunnel below.
Make sure to also close all entrances to your home – skunks are wandering animals and they will roam into the house if you leave the front door open.
Openings or crawl spaces can also lead to skunks establishing a den in this un-frequented area. So make sure those openings are patched up too.
Another important method of skunk control is minimizing food and water in your yard – skunks won’t stay in a place if there’s no food for them there. Ensure that your trash cans can’t be opened by securing them with a tight-fitting lid. Also, avoid leaving windfall fruit laying about or any standing water.
Do Skunks Climb – Should You Be Worried
Skunks are somewhat capable of climbing, but these situations aren’t common and they’re more of an exception than a rule. Spotted skunks are the best climbers, known to climb trees to get beehives, but even they prefer digging to climbing.
These animals are potentially dangerous because they’re transmitters of rabies, as well as Lyme disease, fleas, and ticks.
Their odor is capable of causing temporary blindness and trouble breathing in humans. Because of this, don’t try to remove them on your own if you find them in your yard.