Can Skunks Climb?

by Derrick | Last Updated: September 23, 2021

Skunks are wild animals that we do not want to disturb and will try to avoid at all costs. And this undesired buddy might be the reason behind people putting up fences or wire mesh in their backyards, but we still wonder if that is enough. Can skunks climb?

Whether or not a skunk can climb will depend on how heavy they are. Spotted skunks are lighter than other types, so it is easier for them to climb anything, despite having long nails. Striped skunks are heavier, so they are better at digging than climbing. However, they can climb wire fences if needed.

Skunks are silent animals and prefer to avoid situations where they will need to use the glands they have on both sides of the anus, which carry a strong scent that skunks may shoot at will by tightening the muscular mass around them. They only use these glands instinctively when they feel provoked or in danger. 

The strong scent skunks release is what we humans try to avoid no matter what, so if fences and wire mesh are not enough to keep the skunks away from your house and yard, keep reading.

Types of Skunks.

We have mentioned two types of skunks and which one is more likely to climb over fences. However, those two are not the only type of skunk in the US. In the United States, people can find four kinds of skunks. Let us present them to you:

  • Striped Skunk.

This type of skunk is the most famous species, and it can be found in the eastern half of Virginia around open areas, fields, or near areas with water. They are about the same size as a house cat, with white stripes along their body, rounded ears, black eyes, and a furry striped tail.

The striped skunk is not really proficient at climbing. While it can climb wire mesh, fences, and boards, it hardly ever climbs trees because its long nails make climbing difficult.

  • Spotted Skunk.

This skunk is the one that can for sure climb trees and fences. They are highly active, and their bodies have similar characteristics to weasels. It has four irregular stripes on its back that resemble specks, and it is smaller than striped skunks, measuring around 20 to 22 inches long, including the tail.

In contrast with the striped skunk, this type is really proficient at climbing. It can climb fences up to 6 ft high. The spotted skunk can climb trees with no effort and even climb down a tree headfirst. 

  • Hog-nosed Skunk.

This skunk is the largest and heavier type and even has four subtypes. They can measure up to around 31 inches long and weigh between 4-10 pounds. Also called rooter skunks and badger due to their behavior and size, they are native to America and use their weight to their advantage, digging up roots and eating beetles on the ground. This type is not as good at climbing as it is at digging.

  • Hooded Skunk.

These skunks can be found in the Southwestern part of the United States and Mexico. They are the fluffiest skunks, and they have the most extended tail; the name comes from the thick, long white fur covering their neck.

They prefer eating more vegetables and fruits than insects, but they will eat anything in the skunks’ diet if there are no other alternatives. These can carry parasitic species such as fleas, nematodes, and roundworms, spreading pests in farm-like gardens and vegetable fields. 

The hooded skunk is not really good at climbing; however, it is considered a good ground dweller.

About Skunks’ Ability to Climb.

In urban areas, it is easier to find striped skunks or spotted skunks. Therefore, these are the ones you have to keep an eye on.

Despite being a curious animal, the striped skunk cannot climb at all, so, unlike squirrels and eve raccoons, they have a hard time finding shelter in attics and chimneys. However, their bodies are made for digging and collecting bugs, with tails that are unsuitable for balance and climbing. Striped skunks use their short, powerful legs and sharp claws to dig through the ground, searching for food such as grubs, earthworms, and insects. The striped skunks live in open areas, fields, and other locations where the ability to climb is not especially required.

On the other hand, as we mentioned above, spotted skunks are smaller and lighter, and in addition to that, they are by far faster than striped skunks. Their claws have developed to give stronger climbing ability, making them more likely to find shelter in places like attics and chimneys. Spotted skunks love honey, so they use this ability to climb up trees and get the honey from the beehives. This also helps them effortlessly climb into trash cans, just like squirrels and raccoons, which is why homeowners typically detest their presence.

Tips To Keep Skunks Away from Your Home.

If you suspect you have a skunk around your house, there are several methods you could use to keep it away.

  • Take care of your property. Remove any unneeded lumber, rockpiles, fence posts, tree roots, or anything else that a skunk could find desirable as a shelter. Repair any cracks or holes in your deck or foundations.
  • If you get rid of pests, skunks will leave due to the lack of food.
  • Clean up any fallen fruit as they house insects that skunks enjoy. Food like nuts, berries, branches, and leaves should be cleaned up on a regular basis.
  • If you have a pet, keep all the pet’s leftover food and meal plates inside the house.
  • Keep your pet’s food on top shelves, especially if you have a dog, cat, or bird, as these pet foods are more appealing to skunks.
  • To close off entry to your yard and residence, you can use a variety of materials such as mesh fences, metal flashing, strong barriers, boards, and hardware cloth.
  • Cut all the branches near your house that the skunk could use as a path of entry.
  • All trash left outside should be placed in cans with tight-fitting, locking lids.
  • Skunks hate loud noises and bright light; use these against them. Play loud music or create loud noises to force them to leave.
  • To make skunks leave the perimeter of your home, use ammonia rags, naphthalene balls, and skunk repellents.
  • If you have shrubs or trees near your home, make sure you keep the windows closed so they don{t have a way in. 

What To Do If A Skunk Has Entered Your House?

If you discover a skunk is in your house or garage, lock everything except for one door, which the skunk can use to escape. Do not use food. If you try to get rid of the skunk with food, it will associate food with your residence and return in the hopes of receiving more.

Final Thoughts.

Skunks do not represent any harm to humans as long as they do not feel threatened, and they even could be good to keep pests away. The issue comes with the fact that we do not know when they might feel in danger. 

However, during winter, when there is not much to eat in regards to plants and insects, skunks might wander even closer to your home looking for food, increasing the chances of having a strong smell from their glands around and inside your home. 

So we recommend using the tips mentioned above as soon as you suspect you have an undesired skunk roaming around your house.