Skunks are notorious for spraying a foul-smelling fluid from their anal glands when threatened. While this defense mechanism effectively deters predators, it can be quite unbearable for humans. With four known species in America—striped, spotted, hog-nosed, and hooded skunks—it’s essential to understand their behavior and whether they can climb fences.
In this article, we’ll discuss the different species of skunks, how they can enter fenced areas, and how to keep them away from your property. We’ll also address the potential dangers posed by skunks and the impact they can have on your home.
A Closer Look at Skunk Species
Before delving into their fence-climbing abilities, let’s briefly examine the common skunk species found in America:
- Striped skunks – Largest among the species, striped skunks have black fur with white stripes and a V-neck mark on their back. Their long claws make it difficult for them to climb trees, but they can manage fences.
- Spotted skunks – Divided into eastern and western spotted skunks, these smaller, faster skunks can climb trees and fences with ease due to their size and gripping pads on their feet.
- Hog-nosed skunks – Found in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, these skunks have a thick white stripe and a hog-like snout. They are great diggers but not good climbers.
- Hooded skunks – Identified by a tuft of fur around their neck, hooded skunks resemble striped skunks but have longer tails and softer fur. They are not adept climbers and prefer staying on the ground.
How Skunks Get Into Fenced Areas
Skunks can enter fenced properties by climbing over, digging under, or squeezing through the fence. Some species like spotted skunks are excellent climbers, especially when fences are made of wood, wire mesh, or chain link. They can also use nearby structures or tree branches to get over fences.
Striped, hooded, and hog-nosed skunks are excellent diggers and can tunnel under fences instead of climbing over them. Skunks can also squeeze through small openings in fences, with adults fitting through holes as narrow as 4-6 inches in diameter.
Why Do Skunks Climb Fences?
Skunks are nocturnal creatures that search for food sources and potential shelters during the night. They are attracted to garden insects, grass, leaves, and vegetables, making your property an appealing target. Skunks also tend to create nests in spaces underneath porches, decks, basements, garages, and sheds.
Keeping Skunks Out: The Best Fence Options
A solid metal perimeter fence at least 2 feet tall is the most effective barrier against skunks. Skunks struggle to grip the smooth surface, making it difficult for them to climb. If you cannot install a metal fence, ensure your current fence is stable, repair any damages, cover up holes, and bury the fence 1-2 feet deeper into the ground.
Are Skunks Dangerous?
While skunks are generally harmless, they can carry the rabies virus and transmit parasitic infections like roundworms and fleas. Their presence can also be a nuisance to homeowners and farmers, as they rummage through trash, eat pet food, and consume chicken eggs.
Spotted and striped skunks are more likely to climb fences than other species. If you’re struggling to deter skunks from your property, consider contacting a wildlife removal service for expert assistance. Trapping skunks requires skill, time, and effort, and relocating them should be
done with care to ensure they have access to food and water in their new environment. Always familiarize yourself with local animal welfare laws to avoid accidentally breaking any regulations while dealing with skunks.
By understanding the different skunk species and their behaviors, you can take appropriate measures to protect your property from these nocturnal creatures. A well-maintained fence and vigilance in keeping potential food sources out of reach can go a long way in preventing skunks from becoming unwanted visitors.