Do Skunks Hibernate in the Winter?
Skunks are a pest that you don’t want in your yard at any time of year, so you might be feeling a sense of relief now that the cold weather is setting in and skunks and other pests are starting to hibernate. But your relief may be short lived… skunks actually don’t hibernate! While they are definitely less active in the winter, it’s still possible that you’ll see them in your yard so it’s important to take steps to prevent them from taking residence at your home during the coldest season of the year.
What do skunks do in the winter?
When many pests and rodents are getting ready to hide from the cold weather and move into a state of hibernation, skunks tend to join the movement, but only part way. Skunks enter into a state of torpor meaning that their body temperature, metabolism and breathing all slow down, but will not get as slow as if they were actually hibernating.
During winter skunks seek out places to create a den in order to enter their almost-hibernation. Ideal places to create a warm, dark home include under a deck, porch or shed, in a hollow log or tree stump and sometimes even in an attic or basement. Though skunks usually don’t hang out in packs, it’s not completely out of the question to find groups of them in dens to help keep each other warm.
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Winter eating habits of skunks
How skunks find food in the winter doesn’t differ too much from how they find food in the warmer months. Skunks are foragers, so they can typically be found looking for insects and small animals like worms, frogs or snakes or any berries, nuts and roots that they can find amidst the snow. If they can make their way down to your lawn, they may even dig holes looking for worms and grubs. Skunks are also still prone to digging in your garbage to find food even in the winter, so taking steps to protect your bins will help keep them at bay.
The hunt for a den
When hunting for a den a skunk is going to look for somewhere dark, quiet and warm to spend the winter. They are also looking for easy access to food and water. Thankfully, it can be pretty easy to take steps to prevent skunks from getting comfortable in your yard.
Tips to keep skunks from creating a den in your yard:
- Keep garbage in a tightly covered bin
- Clean your garbage bin often to keep odors at bay
- Clean any fallen fruit, nuts, seeds or pet foods that have fallen to the ground
- Block off any possible entry points to under your deck or shed or into your attic
- Before it snows, rake up any dead leaves in your yard
How to rid a skunk den from your yard
If you’ve spotted some telltale signs of a skunk in your yard- like holes in your lawn, garbage strewn about or sounds of movement under your deck- it’s time to take some steps to kick them out. It’s not necessarily a good idea to go after them yourself, since they can be apt to spray you if they feel threatened. The best way to get rid of a skunk in your yard is to set a live trap with the help of a pest removal professional. This will allow the skunk to be humanely trapped and relocated to somewhere that it can find a new den for winter, without disturbing any other homes.
Once you’ve rid your yard of your skunk roommate, be sure to take steps to make sure they won’t be interested in returning again.