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Skunks in Ohio – Information and Facts

General Information

skunks in cage trap.Skunks are members of the weasel family. There are four species in North America. Striped skunks are the most abundant of the four species. Spotted skunks are more weasel-like. Hooded and Hognose are the other two.

Striped Skunks in Cleveland, Ohio

Striped skunks are the only skunks found in Cleveland, Ohio. Their Scientific name means “double foul odor.” Prominent lateral white stripes run down their back. Otherwise, they are jet black. Striped skunks are about the size of an ordinary house cat. They are 20 to 29 inches long, including a 7 to 15-inch tail. Weighing in around eight pounds.

Skunks have short, stocky legs and big claw feet. This makes them great at digging.

Skunks are quiet. Young skunks are more vocal, especially when they play. You may hear feet stomping, teeth clicking, hissing, grunts, growls, squeals, and screeches.

Breeding Season

Skunk babies on a log. Breeding season is February in Cleveland, Ohio.Adult skunks begin breeding in late February. Year-old females mate in late March. Gestation lasts 7 to 10 weeks. Older females bear young during the first part of May. Yearlings bear young in early June. There is only one litter per year. Litters consist of 3-5 young. Smaller females have smaller litters than older and larger females.

The young stay with an adult female until fall. Male skunks will kill the young. So, they leave the family. Kids forage with their mothers when they are seven weeks old. They are independent at three months. And disperse in the fall. Both sexes mature by the following spring.

Pet skunks live about ten years. Few live beyond three years in the wild.


The normal home range of a skunk is half to two miles in diameter. During the breeding season, a male may travel four to five miles each night. You cannot release trapped skunks unless it is on your property. You must euthanize them.

Skunks are not true hibernators. When the ground freezes, they den up. Male activity continues until temperatures drop to 15° f. They are dormant for about one month during the coldest part of winter. This is a state of torpor. Skunks may lose up to 38% of their body weight during winter. They will emerge during warm spells and the mating season.

Skunks den alone or in a group of two to seven females and one male. They may den together like this in winter for warmth. Consider them solitary except when females are with their dependent young or in winter. They are nocturnal, slow-moving with an effective way to defend themselves. Predators cause less than 5% of skunk deaths. The great horned owl is their main predator. Odor is not always a reliable indicator of skunks. Animals, like owls that skunks have sprayed might make you think skunks are present.


Skunk den under front porch in Cleveland, Ohio.They like to live along the edges of forests and fields near water. Their favorite place to call home is dead/ dying trees that remain upright. They have adapted very well to suburban environments, though. Structures with enclosed spaces greater than four inches in height are attractive. Especially if it is protected from rain and sunlight. Under concrete steps, porches with solid skirting, under sheds, and in piles of debris are high-value realty.

Stone foundations with dirt floor crawl spaces are vulnerable to skunks. This home is constructed in the Ohio City Neighborhood of Cleveland, OH. You will find a half-circle depression below the building’s wall. Dug out entry holes are 3 to 5 in in diameter. Juvenile skunks will make even smaller holes, often 1 to 2 in size. They also use old woodchuck holes. You may not be able to find the entrance with raised structures (like decks without skirting). However, skunks will usually enter and exit in the most remote or secluded part of the structure. Keep in mind that if the gap is greater than 4 inches, it is more likely that predators will come knocking at their door. If you can crawl under it, skunks should not be living there. When looking for entry holes, search for hair stuck to the wood. If it is black and white, you have found skunk hair. They can climb trees to access hollow limbs. In general, do not consider them as climbers, though. Around the house, look for entry at ground level.


One good thing about skunks is that they do not damage structures. That is why we can use one-way doors instead of trapping them. They will not rip apart your house trying to get back into their den when we block them out. Woodchucks will, though!

One thing a skunk does is change the smell of your house. And this occurs before you call our exterminators. A skunk will not be inside your fully concreted basement. If it smells like it’s in the basement, look outside to see if they got caught in a window well. Or sniff under your deck or porch. Sometimes, they’ll dig a hole in the window well soil so you will only see the hole, not the skunk itself. Other times, they will fall into a window well while hunting toads. This is common. So, make sure your window wells have covers on them.

When a skunk becomes trapped inside a structure, look for signs around the walls, about 1 to 2 ft high. For skunks trapped in window wells, put a board in it. This must be a shallow angle less than 45° for it to work. Give them traction by nailing a couple of boards to the board. Unfortunately, most window wells are too small for this technique. So, call the animal warden to fetch it with their catchpole. The best idea is to place a cardboard box in the well. And guide the skunk into it using a long stick. You should be able to remove the skunk without getting sprayed. Remember that skunks need to conserve their spray for life-and-death situations. Remain calm and quiet, and move slowly.

For our company, skunk calls peak in February- March when they are mating. Skunks will feed on grubs and worms in your yard in May and June. You may notice damage to your lawn at this time. This picks up again in late July, continuing through mid-October. Remember that trapping wandering male skunks is difficult because they might only visit your yard once a week.

Watch out for rabid skunks that are out during the day. You will see healthy mothers out during the day if their young are stressing them out. Call the animal warden if you notice a skunk out during the day.

Damage to Lawns

Skunks make funnel-shaped holes in your grass. Holes are 3 to 4 inches long and 1 to 2 inches deep. They call this grubbing for insect larvae. This can also be for earthworms, though. Damage usually stops after three weeks once the food is gone. Raccoons damage lawns, too. They tend to roll the turf more than cause small funnels in the turf. You can tell the difference between squirrel and skunk damage by timing. Skunk damage occurs in spring and fall. Squirrel damage will occur in fall and throughout winter. Squirrels move soil to one side. Many other animals, including domestic dogs, dig in lawns.

Other Signs of Feeding

Skunks can raid the chicken coup. In this instance, skunks kill one or two hens on site. Eggs are crushed at one end, with shelf fragments pushed inside.

Likewise, skunks may damage beehives by attempting to feed on bees. Occasionally, they feed on corn, eating only the lower ears. Sometimes, they get into your left-out garbage.


Grubs that skunks feed on. Found in Lakewood, OH.Like raccoons, they are true omnivores. They will eat if they can get in their mouth around it. Skunks consume mostly insects and other invertebrates, birds, and bird eggs. Skunks love grubs. They will also eat birdseed and mice. Easy prey are grasshoppers, beetles, and crickets. They will eat a lot of other things, too. They might even raid your vegetable garden. A clever way to not have them in your yard is to remove their food source. Treat grubs in mid-April through mid-May. The best time to treat for grubs in Cleveland, Ohio, is July to mid-September. Stop feeding the birds. Perform rodent control. You can get on our exterior rodent bait station program.

Skunks’ diet changes seasonally. Skunks eat plants and animals in about equal amounts during fall and winter. Once insects come out in spring, they feast on those through summer. Mice are important parts of their diet in winter. They eat rats and tiny rabbits when other food is scarce.

Other Ways To Identify Skunks


Skunk tracks are small relative to body size. You will find five toes on all feet. And smooth, continuous palm pads with long front nails. In some tracks, the fifth toe may not be obvious. Claw marks are usually visible, but the heels of the front feet normally are not. Hind feet tracks are about two and a half inches long.


Scat includes mostly insect exoskeletons. Look for it to be slightly curved. It might have seeds in it, too. Droppings are a quarter inch to half inch in diameter and 1 to 2 inches long. Scat is not the best identifier of skunks.


Skunks carry rabies on occasion. Avoid any overly aggressive animal that approaches without hesitation. This is also something to report to the animal warden.


Teenage skunks are more prone to spraying than older ones. Young skunks are not mature enough to have control of the spray muscles. So, some leaks out as they walk. Skunks discharge the nauseating musk from their anal glands. And they’re capable of several discharges. However, skunks would rather save their spray from extreme danger. This is because it can take time to replenish the fluid.

You can detect skunk spray from a mile away. So do not rely on odor to tell you much. Possums also admit a skunk-like odor. And remember, a sprayed animal can trick you into thinking there are skunks on your property. Sprayed dogs and cats will retreat underneath decks and porches. A skunk odor that persists with varying degrees of intensity tells you there is a dead skunk. You might need a skunk exterminator to use a pole hook to pull the carcass out of a confined space.

Most spraying occurs during the breeding season. The males can argue over a female. Likewise, the female will spray unwanted suitors. Another popular time for skunks to spray is in June, when the young begin practicing. Skunks can spray once they are two to four weeks old. One ounce of fluid is enough for 5 to 6 sprays. Then, they need a day to recharge. Older skunks learn not to leave themselves defenseless by using all their spray. Ohio striped skunks spray well from a 10-foot distance. They only spray when approached or directly threatened.

Skunks will travel along your foundation plantings. That is when pets will encounter them. Give them their space. Do not approach them. Watch territorial dogs if you let them out at night. They will give you a warning signal before spraying. Skunks stomping their feet and lifting their tail in the air are signs of spraying. Remove yourself ASAP calmly. They turn to face the aggressor, arch their backs, raise their tails, stamp the ground, and shuffle backward. Then, just before spraying, they bend into a u shape so their head and tail face the target.

Skunk Spray Remedies

Lakewood Exterminating can apply Epolean N-100 or Citrus Neutrox with an atomizer sprayer. Homeowners can mix a quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide with 1/4 Cup baking soda and one teaspoon of dish soap. Read more about deodorizing skunk spray here.

Skunk Fest In Cleveland, Ohio

North Ridgeville, Ohio, holds an annual community event, Skunk Fest. Skunk Haven is a non-profit group that is puts it on. It is wonderful.

If you want to celebrate them or find one for a pet, seek them out. If you need help ridding your home of them, let Lakewood Exterminating help.