Why do skunks dig?

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Aside from the foul-smelling liquid that they spray on perceived attackers, skunks are also known and abhorred for their habitual digging. They dig so much that almost nothing is safe from their destructive claws – the landscaping of your garden, planted seeds, bulbs and roots, the golf course, lawn or yard. It makes a distraught homeowner wonder what the whole digging frenzy is about! Well, skunks do dig for particular reasons.

To start with, they live in burrows. Read about Do Skunks Burrow Underground? Even though they sometimes take over existing burrows dug by other animals, in most cases, they nest themselves in holes dug with their sharp, strong claws. Being nocturnal mammals, they hunt at night; and in the daytime, they are hiding or resting inside their dens. They also birth and raise their litters in these burrows.

Skunks basically need to dig their burrows, which serves many purposes throughout their life span. Once settled, they rarely move farther than two miles from their burrow, except during mating season.

The other very important reason that skunks dig is for grubbing. Grubbing refers to how they scrounge and dig the ground in search of food bits. Food is essential for the sustenance of every living organism and skunks are not an exception. Hence, the need to grub is a basic one for the critter. Insects like crickets, grasshoppers, beetles, cutworms and various insect larvae as well as worms are some of the foods that the skunk may find from digging.

They also feed on garden vegetables and fallen fruits, berries, grasses, and roots that they dig up in gardens and yards. Skunks feed on virtually anything they can find and they are aided by their strong olfactory sense that helps to smell grubs from a relatively far distance. They do not store up food but rather go out to search for food each time. Hence the incessant digging!

So whenever you notice small, cone-shaped holes or patches of upturned earth in your yard, lawn, garden, or golf course, it is most likely to have been dug by a hungry skunk searching for food.

Go back to the Skunk Removal page, or learn tips by reading How to get rid of skunks.

Skunk digging under a shed - Getting a skunk out from under a shed isn’t like getting rats out of an attic. Thankfully, the skunk is not living inside of your home, and the animal won’t do too much damage to the building structurally. What’s annoying about a skunk is the smell, the damage to your lawn from digging, the digging under the shed, and the potential that pets and people can get sprayed with an unpleasant odor. There is also the risk of disease, but most of these need to be spread by close contact with the skunk. If you can trap and remove the animal quickly, the chances of a communicable disease are low. First, make sure you block off all the exit routs from under the shed except for one. Because modular sheds are often open completely underneath, the reasonable thing to do is block the underside with boards or temporary fencing. Leave only a small opening on one side for the skunk to leave from. Now that the escape routes have been limited, you can create a pathway with fencing from the opening to a cage trap. This method will funnel the skunk into the trap if the animal wants to leave the den (which it eventually will).

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