Up close and (too) personal with some skunks

Up close and (too) personal with some skunks
Kit No. 2 tries to break out its sibling from the trap. (Cori Brown photo)

It finally happened. After more than 33 years of faithful canine companions and I roaming our six acres of land, we experienced the encounter no dog owner ever wants.

The day started out innocently enough. Out the door at 6 a.m. to check out interesting smells on the trails, toss the Frisbee a few times, and slowly make our way back to the house.


On our final lap back to the house, interesting became calamitous as Navi spotted a skunk way before I did. Off she went like a bullet only to stop short in her tracks with a direct hit to the face. I quickly realized that no matter how fast I ran to intervene that I was too late.

Drool was dripping off of her muzzle along with lots of vigorous head shaking. Of course, we both ran to the house immediately with no plan for what to do next.

Months before I had purchased a small bottle of de-skunking spray. It proved to be totally useless. Somehow in the chaos, she made it into the house. Big mistake!

A closeup of kit number two with its cute striped nose.
A closeup of kit number two with its cute striped nose. (Cori Brown photo)

Ironically, I was recovering from sinus surgery and could barely smell anything. My saving grace surgery was Navi and better half Jim’s great misfortune.

Jim rushed off to the pet store to get some better products to relieve Navi of the stinging and horrible smell. Navi continued to shake her head and drool like a faucet.

To make matters worse, Navi’s suffering wasn’t over yet. Out came the water hose along with a thorough dousing of skunk neutralizer and a shampoo. To say that she hated both was an understatement.

When we got to the point of muted chaos, I cautiously made my way back to the scene of the crime. Unbeknownst to me, a skunk had taken up residence in a basement apartment underneath one of our sheds.

There was a nice line of excavation about six feet long across the entire back side. How did I miss this?

It became obvious rather quickly that this was one challenge I was not willing to take on. In the past, Jim and I trapped raccoons and groundhogs with no problem. Skunks, however, were a whole different ballgame. Both of us were recovering from surgeries and had no desire for a repeat performance of target shooting from the skunk.

Time to call the critter busters! They knew exactly what to do.

A very pleasant and knowledgeable young man came out the next day to assess the situation. It turns out that he recently graduated from college with a degree in wildlife management.

Watch out skunks, you’ve met your match!

Our critter guy had a few tricks up his sleeve including a one door trap covered across the back half with a heavy-duty garbage bag (good idea since the likelihood of a trapped skunk spraying again was quite high). It was the bait, though, that really surprised me — flaming hot Cheetos covered in grape jelly. Who knew?

It wasn’t long before we had results. The next morning not one, but two skunks were in the trap. Without getting too close, it appeared that a mom and a kit (that’s what baby skunks are called) couldn’t resist the exotic Cheetos (I think Cheetos should add this incredible combination to its lineup).


Between bouts of serious digging, mom skunk paced back and forth like a ping pong ball. Meanwhile the kit got stuck between the side of the trap and the door. All I could see was a cute little head poking out of the trap.

But wait, there’s more! Outside of the trap was kit No. 2, who was equally determined to break them out of jail!

Round and round the trap it went digging and clawing and reaching in for its sibling and mom.

I backed off immediately and texted the critter guy. Out he came within hours to remove the trapped skunks from their cozy apartment (rightly so since they weren’t paying rent)! He replaced the trap with a smaller one to get No. 2.

Kit No. 2 no parts of the Cheetos or trap and it remained empty the next morning.

On to plan C. The critter guy came back again with the original trap, which of course still had mom’s lovely scent on it. Bingo! The next day I saw two kits in the trap.

What a relief. The drama was finally over.

What’s that saying, “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch?” The critter guy donned his gloves and goggles, walked up to the trap and discovered not one, not two, but three kits inside!

He estimated the kits were 6-8 weeks old. How we never noticed mom and her happy family for eight weeks is beyond me. It puts my park ranger observation skills to shame.

With the drama truly over, the shed was sealed up with steel wire and concrete. No more skunk apartments on our property! Having said this, I have to admit the kits were incredibly cute.

Each was beautiful in its own right with lush black and white coats, some almost all white, others almost all black.

This certainly was an adventure for the books and one that we will not forget anytime soon. After more than a week, Jim tells me he can still detect the smell in the house.

Navi still sports a whiff, too, as told to me by the vet staff we recently visit (I still can’t smell much of anything).

What can I say? I wouldn’t have life in the country any other way!

Two skunk kits with very different coats.
Two skunk kits with very different coats. (Cori Brown photo)