Why do skunks dig?

There are two reasons why skunks dig. One reason is when they forage for food and the other reason is when they are building a den.

Foraging for food:
Skunks eat grub, that is, insects, larvae and living organisms found in the ground. They also feed on vegetable roots. Since skunks do not store food, they usually dig for their daily meal.

Garbage bins are not safe as well. They would dig into your trashcans for rotted food if they can get to it. Skunks are omnivores, so they basically eat everything.

Luckily, skunks are nocturnal creatures, foraging for food at night, so you would be less-likely to run into one during the day.Skunks do not hibernate during winter, but they are usually inactive during this season, surviving on their fat stores. During Spring they try to gain back their weight, which is why the seasons play an important role in when skunks dig.

Their holes are usually small and cone-shaped with a depth of 3 to 4 inches. If you notice these in your yard, then that means the skunk was foraging for food at night. You can take preventative measures to avoid them from digging up your yard, garden or trash.

Building a den:
Skunks live in dens, which are holes they digto sleep in or give birth. Common areas would include under sheds, decks or porches. They are known to get between the foundation of homes as well. These holes are usually 8 inches in diameter, deeper than the holes they dig when foraging, and may contain leaves, grass and even paper.

When a skunk settles in a den, they forage for food close by and they would hardly ever leave unless its mating season. Skunk mating season is in February or March, followed by a gestation period of 60-days. By April to May, the females produce a litter of 7 to 8 babies, although they have also been close to 20 at times.

Female skunks move away from the den they used during the winter, to a new maternal den, after mating. If you notice the skunk den layered with grass, more than likely, the skunk is female and would be giving birth soon. They babies are blind and deaf when born and are nursed for up to 6 weeks before they go outside of the den. Weaning takes up to 2 months where they young would travel at least 6 to 10 km away in search of a new home.

Preventative measures:
Having a skunk in your yard is unsightly, their odor can be unbearable, and they are harmful because they are carriers of many diseases, including the deadly rabies virus. If you smell their odor or notice your yard being dug up, you can take these preventative measures to get them to leave.

Ironically, skunks dislike strong odors. You can mix a solution of castor oil, dishwashing detergent and water in a spray bottle. Spray it around your yard and garden during the day. Also, leave citrus peel around the yard as well. These scents are offensive to skunks.

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