Skunks are an animal that you often smell before you see. They waddle around our yards digging up insects, eating our trash, and sniffing out garden goodies like fruits and vegetables. If your yard is being visited by these unwanted guests, you may be wondering how to scare them off without using traps or harmful tools.
Skunks use their strong sense of hearing to navigate the world. You can use this to your advantage by using noise to get skunks off your property. Things like yelling, radios, noisemakers, and barking dogs will scare skunks enough to make them leave your property and think twice about returning.
Have a skunk problem? We got you covered! Read on to find out all the sounds and noises that scare skunks, and the best ways to use them.
Identifying Skunk Damage
According to the University of California, skunks typically skulk about in low-light conditions or at night. Because of this, you may experience skunk damage without ever seeing the elusive critter.
Instead, you’ll have to look for clues to be sure you’re dealing with a skunk. Just because you smell a skunk doesn’t mean it’s anywhere near your yard. The smell of a skunk can be detected by humans up to a half-mile away.
The primary reason skunks are in your yard is because they are attracted to food, water, or shelter. You may be inadvertently supplying them with one or more of these.
Signs of a skunk infiltration in your yard include holes in your garden as the skunk digs for grubs, knocked over trash, holes in your lawn from digging, and faint odors that are not as strong as the typical skunk smell.
In late winter, you may smell a strong scent around your yard, but this is more likely contributed to male’s scent-marking during the mating season.
Skunks will also dig beneath buildings, woodpiles, brush piles, and porches to create dens to raise their young. Once you identify the critter responsible for your damage, you can use a targeted deterrent to keep them away for good!
If you’re interested in learning more, take a look at our guide: 8 Signs of A Skunk Den (And How to Find Them)
9 Sounds And Noises That Scare Skunks
Wild skunks are mild and despite what many people think they rarely resort to spraying.
Spraying is a skunk’s last resort for defense and according to the University of Arkansas, it can take up to a week to replenish the scent glands. During that week, the skunk is vulnerable to predation.
Nonetheless, when you use sounds and noises to scare a skunk, it’s important to make sure the skunk has an escape route. Do not corner a skunk or give it no other choice than to spray.
Note: Sounds and noises are not meant to permanently deter skunks. It is a tool best used in combination with other deterrents to truly keep them away for good.
Whistles Will Scare Skunks Away
For such a small tool, whistles can make a big difference! There’s an endless list of uses for a whistle including safety, dog training, sports, and scaring wildlife.
That last one is what will apply to our situation. Whistles make a high-pitched noise reaching anywhere from 104 to 116 decibels. This is similar to the decibel of a dog bark, which ranges around the 100-decibel mark.
When using whistles to deter skunks, you don’t need any specialized whistle. Something as simple as Hipat Whistle Plastic Sports Whistles will do just fine.
Whistles are a tool best used when you see a skunk in your yard and need to shoo it away ASAP. It can also be used if you have outside dogs and they start barking in the middle of the night. This is often the first alarm that an unwanted critter has wandered into your yard.
Whistles cannot be used to deter skunks long term. It is more of a quick fix tool, but it is still useful to scare skunks off at the moment.
Whistles may be good to use is you smell a skunk outside at night and don’t know where it’s coming from. More on why you may be smelling skunks at night in our article: What Does it Mean When You Smell Skunk at Night?
Aluminum Pans Can Protect Your Garden From Skunks
Skunks love to roam around gardens and eat fallen fruits and vegetables. Gardens are a perfect place to find insects and grubs. Skunks will eat worms, grubs, grasshoppers, larvae, and crickets.
If you’re noticing small cone-shaped holes in your garden, it is likely a skunk making the holes. They range from 1- to 3-inches in depth.
Digging can damage crop roots and can upend plant stalks. Besides that, skunks will also eat your garden veggies and fruits without hesitation.
If you live around deer or other critters, you probably already have a fence around your garden. In this case, you can hang aluminum pie pans from your existing garden fence. Something like DOBI Pie Pans Disposable Aluminum Foil Pie Plates will do the trick.
You can cut a hole at the edge of the pie pan and use twine, zip ties, or whatever you have at home to tie them to your garden fence. Cluster the pie pans in groups of three so that when the wind blows, the pans will hit against each other.
Don’t have a fence? No problem! Instead of tieing the pans to your garden fence, use stakes placed approximately 3’ apart and tape, staple, or tie the pans to the stakes instead.
This kind of noise deterrent is a great passive deterrent that works while you sleep! Another positive aspect is the fact that the noises will be unpredictable due to the need for wind, so they could be much stronger to deter a skunk.
Noisemakers Frighten Skunks
A common myth that’s been debunked is that seeing a skunk during the day means it must be sick. This has been said about raccoons and opossums as well and is not true.
While skunks are usually active at dusk, dawn, and nighttime, they will forage during the day when food is scarce or when a mother is raising kits. For more information on seeing a skunk during the daytime, check out our article Seeing A Skunk During The Day: Here’s What It Means.
So if you see a skunk during the day, don’t be too concerned. That being said, you still don’t want those rascally critters on your property. You can use noisemakers to scare skunks off any time of day.
Noisemakers can range from kid’s toys you buy at the store to your very own homemade noisemaker.
To make your own noisemaker, you’ll need a few tools:
- Tin can such as a soup can
- Pennies, bolts, or screws
- Duct tape
Save your soup cans! After you use them, wash them out and fill them with something that’s going to make noise: pennies, old bolts, and screws work great. Duct tape the top to keep the loose pieces inside and you’re done!
Simply shake the can at the offending skunk and watch it waddle out of your yard and away from your garden and lawn!
Radios Are a Great Way To Keep Skunks Away
Skunks would rather flee than attack when faced with something new or a predator. If they need to, they will stamp, hiss, and flip their tail upward threateningly. As a last resort, they will spray to keep predators away.
Radios are a great way to appeal to a skunk’s fear of new things. And just like the aluminum pie pans, the sound will be unpredictable depending on what’s playing on the radio.
The Panasonic Portable AM/FM Radio works perfectly for scaring away skunks. It uses four AA batteries with the option to plug into an outlet using an included AC adaptor.
So, what kind of music do skunks hate? The music selection doesn’t matter, but songs that have human voices do better than simple instruments or background music. You can also switch it over to a talk show to imitate people having a conversation.
Skunks are naturally wary of people, so a talk show might be your best bet! Radios are more of a passive deterrent. You can set it out and let it play all night to keep pesky skunks away. Just be sure you don’t disturb your neighbors.
Your Voice Will Scare Off A Skunk
When you see a wild animal, your first instinct might be to yell. And that would be a very good instinct! Yelling can be done to scare off just about any wild animal.
As we mentioned before, skunks are naturally wary of humans. They’ve learned over the years not to mess with people. Because of this, you can use something as simple as your voice to scare off those smelly pests.
Yelling can be used to scare a skunk off if you see one in your yard. Yell in the direction of the skunk and add some arm-waving as well to create a visual deterrent. The skunk isn’t likely to stick around very long.
While yelling is a great noise deterrent, even a simple conversation with other people can be enough to deter a skunk from your yard. Talking to someone on your porch, having a phone conversation in your yard, or hosting a bonfire are all great noise deterrents to keep skunks away.
Oh, and if you yell at a skunk, it probably isn’t going to chase you. More on that in our article: Will a Skunk Chase You? Here’s What to Know
The Sound Of Predators Scares Skunks
Bobcats, coyotes, and horned owls prey on skunks. Other than that, not many animals prey on skunks due to the hazard of being sprayed. Can you blame them?
But you don’t need a ton of predator sounds to scare off a skunk. Bioacoustics are a great tool to use to deter skunks from your property by appealing to their sense of fear. They will be fooled into thinking a predator is nearby and will not come near the sound.
So, how does it work?
You need a few tools to make bioacoustics work:
- Portable Bluetooth speaker
- Audio of predator
You can get the audio sound of a predator through a few apps on your phone. Put the sound on repeat and let it play through your Bluetooth speaker.
This option is a little more technical, but it can be very effective at deterring skunks along with all sorts of other bothersome nighttime visitors.
Pots And Pans Are Effective At Scaring Off Skunks
Every little kid remembers trying to make a drumset out of the pots and pans in the cupboard paired with a wooden spoon or two.
…and getting yelled at by our parents. But now, finally, it’s acceptable to bang on pots and pans!
Banging pots and pans together as a noise deterrent is most useful when you spot a skunk in your yard and want to get rid of it right then and there. Run into your kitchen, grab the nearest pan, lid, or pot, and bang on it with a wooden spoon.
To a skunk, the noise will not only be loud and sudden, but it will also be something they’ve probably never heard before, which doubles the scariness.
You don’t need to chase the skunk in addition to banging on your pots and pans. The noise should be enough to deter the little rascal and have it slink back to where it came from. Plus, you don’t want to give a skunk a reason to use its last-resort defense mechanism: spraying!
Barking Dogs Will Scare Skunks
Our furry four-legged pals sometimes bark at seemingly nothing, but the truth is a lot of times when dogs bark it’s because they are hearing something outside.
Barking is often the first sign that an unwanted guest has entered your yard. Although it might be annoying at times, barking is an excellent noise deterrent.
Note: It is NOT recommended to let your dog outside when a skunk is nearby. Dogs may get sprayed or get into a fight with a skunk if it feels threatened enough.
Keep your dogs safely inside, but instead of shushing them right away, allow the dog to send a warning to that pesky skunk that your yard should be considered a danger zone.
General Hazing noises Can Scare Off Skunks
When it comes to noise deterrents, the BEST way to deter a skunk is to switch up the noises and switch up the location the noises are coming from.
When you see a skunk, you won’t always have your pots and pans or whistle readily available. While you always have your voice, you can also use whatever is around you.
For example, if you’re in the woods and happen on a skunk, you can pick up a stick and bang it against a tree to make noise. You can stamp your feet, clap your hands, bang two rocks together…whatever you can do to make a sudden loud noise.
This are called methods of hazing, similar to how you’d scare a coyote. Since skunks are prey and NOT predators, they’ll more than likely stamper away at the first sign of trouble.
If you’re at your home, try using a broom and hitting the handle on your concrete driveway or using a leaf blower to make a new sound to scare off those rascally skunks.
Other Ways To Deter Skunks
Sound and noise deterrents are not meant to keep skunks away permanently. They’re a good fix in a pinch, but the skunks are likely to return if you are providing them with food, water, or shelter.
It’s not always obvious how you are providing these resources, and in most cases it’s unintentional. Let’s take a look at all the reasons skunks are in your yard and what you can do to stop them for good.
Feed Pets Indoors to keep skunks away
Food is an excellent motivator for any wild animal. If they can spend less energy getting it, they are more likely to return to those easy pickins’ locations.
Feeding your pets outside is a surefire way to attract skunks (and other pests) to your yard. At the very least, you should bring the food dishes indoors at night and clean up any spilled kibble.
Remove Bird Feeders At Night So they don’t attract Skunks
Bird feeders tend to be a messy ordeal with birdseed being flung all over the place, including on the ground.
Messy bird feeders can be a problem because skunks are omnivores and will eat nuts and seeds dropped at bird feeders. It’s best practice to bring your bird feeder in at night when skunks are most active.
It can be tedious trying to clean up spilled birdseed on the ground, especially if it’s in grass or hard-to-reach areas. Instead, opt for a birdseed catcher like the Pranovo Bird Seed Catcher Tray.
This product hooks right onto your existing bird feeder and will catch any dropped or spilled seed.
Secure Your Garbage Cans to keep skunks out
Those old leftovers you threw out in the garbage may seem rank and moldy to you, but to a skunk, it’s like a beacon to an all-you-can-eat buffet.
Spilled garbage and garbage cans that can be easily knocked over are a huge attractant to wildlife. It attracts mice and rats, insects, raccoons, coyotes, opossums, and skunks. So be sure to keep your garbage can lids on and secure.
To be sure they won’t get knocked down by a nighttime visitor, try storing your garbage in the garage or a shed until the pick-up day.
You can also use products like the Blazer Brand Universal Garbage Can Lid Lock Utility Strap to make sure your lid will stay on even if it gets tipped over. This utility strap fits most garbage cans and does not require any tools. It’s also easy for the pickup crew to unlock, so no need to keep taking the strap off and on during garbage collection.
Seal Off Any Holes Around Your Home That Give Skunks Shelter
It’s no easy task keeping a home in tip-top shape. There’s always a to-do list and it never seems to end. It’s understandable to put a few things off here and there, but one thing you should not put off is sealing holes beneath your porch, home, or sheds.
Skunks will feel right at home beneath your porch during the kit-raising season. Be especially vigilant from January to March as this is the time that skunks will find dens, mate, and have their babies.
Be sure to seal off any openings, plug any holes, and fix that broken shed door before a skunk decides to make it their home. You can use galvanized mesh to block the openings, just be sure to bury it at least 6 inches below the surface to prevent skunks from digging beneath it.
Skunks won’t hesitate to make use of woodpiles, brush piles, or any other material that is laying around your yard. They can make dens out of the smallest spaces, so be sure to keep your shrubs trimmed, yard clean, and remove any fallen trees immediately.
Use Scent Deterrents To keep skunks away
Scent deterrents are used to deter skunks from certain areas using smells that are irritating to the animal. Hot peppers and peppermint oil are common pest deterrents.
To read more about the scents and smells that deter skunks, check out our article 15 Scents That Skunks Hate (And How To Use Them).
That’s All For Now!
That’s all we’ve got on the sounds and noises that scare skunks. Hopefully, you have a better understanding of these odorous animals and can use the deterrents mentioned above to send them running!
To recap, the 9 sounds and noises that scare skunks include:
- Aluminum Pans
- Your Voice
- Pots & Pans
- Barking Dog(s)
- Whatever is Handy
If your skunk problem just doesn’t seem to go away, you can always reach out to a professional for help. Our nationwide pest control finder can get you in touch with a wildlife professional near you for free!
Fisher, K. A., & Stankowich, T. (2018, September). Antipredator strategies of striped skunks in response to cues of aerial and terrestrial predators. Animal Behavior, 143, 25-34. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0003347218302148
Hunter, J. S. (2009, November-December). Familiarity breeds contempt: effects of striped skunk color, shape, and abundance on wild carnivore behavior. Behavioral Ecology, 20(6), 1315-1322. https://academic.oup.com/beheco/article/20/6/1315/201339?login=true
Jackson, K., Wilmers, C. C., Wittmer, H. U., & Allen, M. L. (2021). First documentation of scent-marking behaviors in striped skunks (Mephitis mephitis). Mammal Research, 66, 399-404. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13364-021-00565-8
Thorne, E. D., & Waggy, C. (2017). First Reported Observation of Food Provisioning to Offspring by an Eastern Spotted Skunk, a Small Carnivore. Northeastern Naturalist, 24(1).
Zack is a Nature & Wildlife specialist based in Upstate, NY, and is the founder of his Tree Journey and Pest Pointers brands. He has a vast experience with nature while living and growing up on 50+ acres of fields, woodlands, and a freshwater bass pond. Zack has encountered many pest situations over the years and has spent his time maintaining and planting over 35 species of trees since his youth with his family on their property.
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