An encounter with an angry or frightened skunk can be memorable, and not in a good way. Skunk’s smelly spray can be detected by humans up to a mile away. Skunks can ruin lawns and gardens by digging holes in search of food. If you have a skunk problem in your backyard, one of the ways to get rid of them is to build a DIY Spray Proof Skunk Trap using a concrete form tube. An enclosed tube will keep the skunk from spaying you while you could safely relocate it to a different area.
Recently we spotted few skunks in our backyard and I was concerned that they would spray our kids one of these days. So I decided to build a skunk trap so that I could relocate them, away from our house. I used scrap wood that was laying around in my garage.
Fun Facts About Skunks
- Skunks are born blind and deaf. Their eyes open around 3 weeks.
- Their eyesight is not very good but their senses of smell and sound are very great.
- A skunk can spray you ten feet away.
- You can smell their spray from over a mile away.
- Their spray consists of an oily substance.
- In the wild skunks live for about 3 years, but in captivity, they can live closer to ten years. Mostly because they will not have predators in captivity as they do in the wild.
- Female skunks are only pregnant for two months and have one to seven skunks with each birth.
- Females skunks will get pregnant once a year.
- Skunks try to warn the predator before spraying as to not waste a spray. It can take days to replenish their glands. Their glands hold enough spray for about 6 sprays.
- They only grow up to about 14 pounds making them a fairly small animal.
- A male skunk is called a buck, a female is a doe and a baby is called a kit.
- They can run up to 10 miles per hour, but typically don’t chase humans.
- They are nocturnal and hunt during the late evening into the night.
- Skunks are only found in North and South America.
- Skunks spray is flammable.
- Even though they don’t hibernate they tend to stay fairly inactive during cold winter months.
What Do Skunks Eat?
They are omnivores meaning they eat both vegetables and meat. They love:
- Small mammals
- Rodents – Mice, Rats, Moles, etc.
They also eat bees and go after beehives. Often skunks are one of the top predators of honeybees. Since they are nocturnal their incredible sense of smell helps them search for food.
Are Skunks Dangerous?
Skunks have a bad rep but pose no threat to humans. If you have the unfortunate luck of being sprayed by a skunk you’ll reek for a few days but no need to worry as their spray isn’t toxic. You may experience nausea, vomiting, or temporary blindness, but overall the biggest issue will be the stench that follows you for the next few days.
They are not aggressive towards humans but like any wild animal, skunks will defend themselves when scared. Skunks will stomp their feet, lift their tail (aiming it in the direction of the predator) and hiss before spraying.
If you see those signs and move away quickly chances are you won’t get sprayed and the skunk will go on its way. They won’t be able to see you very well so as long as you don’t make any loud noises or fast movements they will not feel threatened and should go about their day.
They are the primary carrier of rabies but like any other animals, they will act very differently when infected. You also would need to be scratched or bitten by the infected animal, to have had disease transmitted. Rabies left untreated can be fatal to both animals and humans. If you think you’ve been infected its best to go to the ER as soon as possible.
Even though they don’t pose a great danger to you they can still cause damage to your yard and home. They love to burrow which can leave your yard full of holes. If they burrow underneath your porch, they could weaken the structure causing potential damage or harm to you and your property.
Where Do Skunks Sleep?
Skunks love to burrow. Just like foxes, they dig dens for themselves. They have sharp front claws they use to dig dens for themselves and their babies. Skunks like fields, woodlands, and urban areas.
Their dens can reach around four feet into the ground and anywhere from five to twenty feet long. Sometimes they even take over unoccupied dens of other small animals like foxes.
You could also easily find them in about any dark, quiet shelter they can crawl into. They will sneak into chicken coops, garages, barns, and try and burrow under porches or decks.
Best Bait For A Skunk Trap?
Skunks have an extraordinarily strong sense of smell because of this it’s a good idea to put something extra smelly. They also tend to like oily based foods; fish and chicken are a great example. You could also try tuna fish or canned dog food.
They also like sweets so if the strong smells of the other food don’t work try something sweet. Marshmallows, peanut butter, and fruits should attract them just fine.
What Repels Skunks?
Skunks hate quite a few certain smells. Citrus, ammonia, and urine from any of their predators will deter them from your property.
Skunks like most animals also don’t like strong pepper smells, cayenne, jalapeno and certain spices make them back away.
Filling their holes with dirt can also help. Just be cautious in the spring because she could have her babies in the den.
Another good tip for getting rid of skunks is making it hard for them to find any foods or access to buildings they may want to seek shelter in.
With all that in mind let’s keep them away from our backyards and proceed with the trap, to relocate them into the wild.
Time to Complete
Note: Lumber dimensions are listed as nominal size. See lumber sizes for actual dimensions vs nominal.
Disclosure: Some of the links on this page as well as links in “tools for this project” and “material list” sections are affiliate links.
Step 1 – Determine the Length of the Tube
For the main part of this DIY skunk trap project, I used a 12” round concrete form tube. These tubes come in several different sizes, but I purchased the largest tube they had at the store. Initially, I was going to get a 12” round PVC pipe, but they are very expensive and are only available at stores that sell commercial plumbing.
Another option I had in mind was to build a long rectangular box out of plywood to make this trap. But the easiest and the cheapest way is to get a concrete form tube and build around it. The tube is very light and could be easily moved around compared to a rectangular plywood box
Typically these concrete tubes are sold at 4 feet in length. The tube could be easily cut shorter with a skill saw but I decided to keep it at full length.
Step 2 – Build a Frame Around Back End of the Tube
Next, built a simple square frame for the tube to slide in. Since the tube is 12″ in diameter, take 2×4 and cut two pieces to 12″ in length and two pieces to 15″ in length. Attach the boards together as shown in the picture using 2″ wood screws. This frame is for the backside of the skunk trap.
Step 3 – Build a Frame for the Front of the Trap
Now build a frame for the front of the trap. Take 2×4 and cut two pieces to 12″ in length, two pieces to 24″ and one piece to 15″. First attach the bottom 12″ board to the two 24″ sideboards.
When attaching the middle 12″ board, slide it back 7/8″ from the front edge and attach it to the side pieces. The 7/8″ gap will be used for the front door to slide up and down. Then at the top of the frame attach a 15″ long piece sliding it back 7/8″ from the front, same as the middle board. If the screws are too close to the edge of the board, you might need to pre-drill the holes so that wood would not crack in half.
Step 4 – Attach Both Frames to the Concrete Form Tube
Insert the tube inside the back frame and attach it with 1 1/4″ pocket hole screws. I used 1 1/4″ pocket hole screws because these screws have a flat head which will hold the tube very well. One screw on each side of the tube works well. Then insert the tube into the front frame. The tube needs to be flush with the middle board that means it needs to be attached 7/8″ from the front edge of the frame.
Step 5 – Install Plywood Pieces That Hold the Front Door
Take 1/4″ plywood and cut two pieces to 2″ x 24″. Then attach them on the left and right sides of the front frame as shown in the picture. Again I used 1 1/4″ pocket holes screw because of the flat head surface. These two plywood pieces will be holding the front door from opening.
Step 6 – Cut 3/4″ Plywood for the Front Door
Cut one piece of 3/4″ plywood to 11 1/2″ x 13 1/2″. This will be the front door. The door needs to be slightly shorter in width than the frame so that it could easily slide up and down. Drill a 1/4″ hole about 1/2″ from the bottom of the door in the center. Then take a screw eye and screw it in the top center of the door. This screw eye will be used to tie a string and pull up the front door.
Step 7 – Slide the Front Door into Position and Tie the String
Slide the door behind the front 1/4″ plywood with a screw eye on top. Make sure it goes up and down easily. If the door does not slide up and down easily, cut the plywood shorter, or adjust the frame to give more space for the door. Attach a screw eye at the top of the front frame.
Tie a string on the screw eye of the door and feed it thru the screw eye on top of the frame. This string will be used to pull the door up to release the animal. Since we’re dealing with skunks, you don’t want to be at the front door when you release the skunks and get sprayed.
Step 8 – Cover the Backside of the Trap
Cut one piece of 3/4″ plywood to 15″ x 15″ and attach it on the backside of the skunk trap using wood screws or pocket hole screws. You could add a small glass window on the back piece, to see what you caught. Or add a mesh screen instead of 3/4″ plywood.
Step 9 – Make a Raised Floor in the Trap for the Bait
Take 1/4″ plywood and cut one piece to 5″ x 24″. This will be used as a raised floor with bait on it. Drill a hole 1/2″ from the end of the plywood in the center of the board. Use 1/4″ drill bit for drilling the hole, just large enough to feed the string through. Then feed a string through the hole and tie it.
Step 10 – Tie the String to the Floor and the Pin
Next, drill a 1/4″ hole on the top of the concrete top about 5″ from the back of the trap. Raise the front door and insert 5″x24″ board inside the tube and feed the string through the hole on top of the tube.
When the door is in an open position, insert the pin inside the hole that’s at the bottom of the door. This pin holds the door open. Once you pull out the pin the door will drop down shut. Pull the string that is attached to the floor so that one side is lifted like a ramp. Tie the string to the pin having the floor at that ramp position. Place the bait on the 5″x24″ board next to the string.
Once the skunk gets in the tube and walks up to get the bait, the weight of the skunk will press down on the floor and pull the string and the pin. Once the pin is pulled out of the hole in the door, the door drops down and will trap the skunk.
You’re done with a DIY skunk trap!
When releasing the skunk in the wild, stand in the back of the trap and pull on the string to open the door. You could make the string as long as you want if you don’t want to get sprayed.