Can Skunks Climb Fences? Everything You Need To Know

by Derrick | Last Updated: May 17, 2021

Nobody wants to be in close quarters with a skunk and face potential bites, scratches, or a dreaded spray, but does being in a fenced-in yard keep you safe? Are you wondering if skunks can climb fences? Here’s everything you need to know. 

Spotted skunks can climb fences, but striped skunks cannot. However, striped skunks can burrow. Installing solid metal fencing or burying galvanized hardware cloth may prevent skunks from getting under or over the fence. Eliminating food and nesting sites may also stop them from entering a property.

If you’ve spotted a skunk and are nervous about whether or not it’ll try to sneak over your fence, keep reading to learn which breeds are climbers, why they’re drawn to your yard, and various ways to keep these critters off your property. 

Can Skunks Climb?

It’s impossible to generalize about whether or not skunks climb since this ability varies across different breeds. Let’s break it down to get a clearer picture of which skunks tend to climb. 

Striped Skunks

Striped skunks are the critters that come to most people’s minds when thinking of these rodents. Just as their name suggests, these skunks are easily identifiable thanks to the white stripe directly down their backs. 

These critters are not built for climbing. Striped skunks have heavy-set bodies that disadvantage them when it comes to vertical adventures. Their bushy tails don’t make the best balancing companions either. However, striped skunks have powerful lower bodies and claws. This body type is ideal for digging and burrowing. 

You’re much more likely to find these critters hanging out in flat, barren areas like fields and pastures. 

Spotted Skunks

You can probably already guess that spotted skunks appear quite differently than their relatives. Since striped skunks get all of the attention, you may not even know that spotted skunks exist. This unawareness goes far beyond a failed trivia question. Some people may not identify these critters as skunks, in which case you may end up a stink bomb victim. 

Spotted skunks have a unique dotted black and white pattern on their coat but are also slimmer, smaller, and more agile than striped varieties. Since spotted breeds don’t have a weighty body impeding their abilities, they are inclined to climb. 

Just like bears, spotted skunks have a taste for beehive-fresh honey, but these omnivores have a varied diet. You can find these rodents feasting on insects, small mammals and reptiles, eggs, berries, nuts, and more. Their climbing abilities facilitate their hunting and scavenging habits. When spotted skunks aren’t seeking fresh food, you may find them snacking in your garbage can. 

Do Fences Keep Skunks Out?

Even though only one of the skunk breeds mentioned above can climb, fences won’t keep either kind out of your yard. Spotted skunks can easily climb up and order, while striped skunks do the opposite: they crawl under. This behavior can make neighborhood skunks incredibly bothersome and hazardous. 

Close contact with one of these wild rodents may result in being sprayed, bitten, or scratches. If a skunk wounds you, seek medical help immediately to prevent and treat potential infections. 

Materials Skunks Cannot Penetrate

If fences can’t stop skunks from climbing over or burrowing under, there must be a way to keep them out, right? 

There are not many skunk-proof materials out there. Their sharp, unrelenting claws can dig through anything from chain-link to wood and just about everything in between. Although, one possible solution to prevent climbing critters is installing a solid metal fence. While the price point is higher than wood, it can alleviate rodent-related headaches.

Solid metal may prevent climbing, but that doesn’t mean it’ll be effective against burrowing. The process to eliminate denning under fences is a bit more involved. 

You will need to bury galvanized hardware cloth 2 inches (5 cm) under the ground, then bend it at a 90° angle extending away from the fence for at least 12 inches (3.7 meters). The Amagabeli 23 Gauge Mesh Galvanized Wire works well for this kind of project.

Why Skunks Are Drawn to Your Property

Before you invest in a vast landscaping project, you may want to question why skunks are so drawn to your place in the first place. Do you unknowingly supply them with food? Does anything in your yard provide them with shelter? Food scraps and piles of debris may be luring these rodents in. Skunks are opportunistic creatures, so you may not even realize how inviting your yard is to them. 

How To Keep Skunks Away

Here are some easy methods you can try to deter skunks from hanging out on your property:

  • Cover up any openings. From holes in the foundation of your home to gaps underneath your deck, skunks will take advantage of every opportunity to den. Since these critters can dig well, this won’t stop them from burrowing, but they may be more likely to shelter in space already available to them. 
  • Avoid leaving pet food outside. Remember how skunks have mighty claws? Plastic bags of pet food don’t stand a chance against these rodents. Keep this grub indoors and transfer it to sealed containers. Similarly, feed your pets inside. The food’s scent can entice skunks, not to mention any leftovers make an excellent treat for them.
  • Bring bird feeders inside at night or remove yours entirely. Just like pet food, skunks will happily chow down on birdseed. Since these critters are most active at night, make sure you bring yours inside every evening. You’ll also have to clean up any fallen seed. If this is too much work, try removing or not filling your bird feeder to see if it makes a difference regarding your skunk problem.
  • Remove debris piles. Just because a clutter of rocks or branches doesn’t look homey to you doesn’t mean it isn’t desirable for others. Skunks are known to seek shelter under fallen trees, between rocks, and any debris piles they can find. Clear these areas away to make your yard less cozy to these smelly rodents. 
  • Resolve any pest problems. If you have a mouse or mite problem, take care of it immediately. Insects and other rodents are significant parts of a skunk’s diet, so these other critters may be the reason others are joining in. 
  • Close your garbage and compost bins. Always make sure you secure your garbage and compost bins well with tightly fitting lids. Better yet, move them indoors where they’re less susceptible to skunk break-ins.
  • Place ammonia-soaked rags or mothballs near denning sites. These harsh scents are known to deter skunks for short periods. Eventually, the smell will fade, and they will need to be replaced. However, these may be hazardous to children and pets, so use with caution.
  • Install motion-activated lights. Since skunks are nocturnal, they’ll be shocked to have a bright light shining on them. Motion-sensing lights can catch these pesky critters off-guard, scaring them away. However, you should note that bright lights attract insects which skunks love to feast on. 
  • Call an exterminator. Sometimes it’s best to leave the dirty work to the professionals. If you aren’t having any luck with DIY methods, call an exterminator. Remember, it can be hazardous to approach wildlife and may lead to severe injuries, not to mention you could be doused with a stinky skunk spray! It’s just not worth it. 

Final Thoughts

Certain breeds of skunks can climb fences, but others cannot. However, fences are not effective at keeping these rodents off your property — even the ground-bound varieties. While striped skunks can’t climb, they are exceptional at burrowing. Instead of climbing over, they will dig their way underneath.

Skunks can get through most materials, but installing solid metal fencing and burying galvanized hardware cloth beneath the area may successfully impede their journey. Eliminating any potential eating or nesting sites can also deter skunks from entering your property.