Are skunks aggressive and will they attack humans?

Contrary to the stories you have heard about skunks, they are not aggressive animals. Skunks are one of the most peaceful wild animals that live around humans. Of course, their lifestyle can cause hindrances and discomfort to you and your loved ones but even at that, skunks usually don't go stirring trouble. Skunks are little animals, not bigger than an average cat, and only occasionally settle near humans if they can find food around. In the wild, every animal needs to protect itself from predators trying to hurt it and through the cause of evolution, skunks have developed a sophisticated defense system. Many homeowners that have skunk problems say that they or their pets were attacked and sprayed by skunks. The reverse is the case, however, because skunks do not usually attack unless they have been backed into a corner and the only resort is to react in self-defense. Skunks generally keep to themselves and they do not like to be bothered. They sleep almost throughout the day, in most cases, and hunt for food at night to reduce the chances of having an encounter. However, if children, pets, or even adults startle or upset them, they may likely react by attacking the person or animal. This goes without saying that before they spring into action, skunks will give plenty of warning for the person to back away. For instance, before they spray, a skunk will raise its tail and shake it in warning. It will also stamp its feet rearing forward in a U-shaped stance. If you still don't back away, then it resorts to spaying, and if it's close enough, it may bite or scratch. Unfortunately, children or pets may miss these signs when they come across a skunk and they may get sprayed, bitten, or scratched. All in all, skunks will generally avoid spraying or attacking a human if they can help it. Things you can do to avoid a skunk attack

Give them a warning
Skunks give plenty of warnings before attacking humans and they will usually only attack as a last resort or in self-defense. As it is, chances of encountering a skunk during daylight are not so great, hence most of the encounters will be at night. Giving skunks some sort of warning of your presence will greatly reduce an encounter. For instance, when going out at night, make clanging sounds with a metal object before stopping unto your yard. You can also turn on the porch or yard light before stepping outside. Skunks are nearsighted, which means that they do not see well. Therefore, giving them some sort of warning before coming close will help prevent an attack as they will most likely run away when they detect movements.

Keep your distance
Wild skunks may look cute but they are not pets. When you see one, no matter how cute you think it is, resist the urge to pick it up or go close to it. Skunks do not like being touched and they will mistake you for picking them up as an attack and respond in that way.

Take precautions
The best way to prevent an attack is to make sure that your property is free from skunks. This means that you should remove and relocate them as soon as you find out about their presence on your property. You may need to call in the professionals for this task as it is difficult work if you are not experienced.

When will a skunk attack a human?
Sometimes a rabid skunk may attack a human for no reason. Although not all skunks that are carriers of rabies exhibit the symptoms, they are however still a risk. This is why it is important to stay away from them. Some signs of rabies in skunks you should watch out for include:

  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Fearlessness of people or pets
  • Foaming at the mouth
  • Aggression
  • Wandering during the daytime

Go back to the York County wildlife removal home page.