Love is in the air for the striped skunk — but for Ohio residents, the pungent aroma in the air might be the most notable feature of the animal’s two-month mating season.
Skunks mate in Ohio from mid-February to mid-April and tend to produce litters of between two-10 kits. Ohio residents might notice an increase in skunk-sightings during this period.
“Right now we’re in their mating season so they’re going to be more active at this time of year,” said Laurie Graber, a Wildlife research technician with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. “They’re on the move a lot more, they’re looking for mates, and looking for places to have their young. If someone has a porch or shed in their yard the best thing to do is just to make sure it's secure.”
Ohio homeowners can secure their properties against skunk infestations by ensuring all sheds, crawl spaces, or porches are properly closed off. When placing barriers or fences, it is helpful to place it at least 1–2 feet into the ground, as skunks can dig under shallow barriers. The nocturnal animals are also known to take over groundhog dens or other unoccupied holes, so it is important to seal those spaces.
ODNR recommends using a mixture of 1 quart hydrogen peroxide, a half cup of baking soda, and a tablespoon of dish soap. This mixture is safe for humans, animals, skin and clothes.
Residents might notice skunks skirting along the edges of their homes or landscaping, however the best practice is to not approach the animal.
Ohio striped skunks can spray with an accuracy of 15 feet, but typically only spray when approached or directly threatened.
“They like to travel along houses,” Graber said. “If someone has got landscaping or bushes around, skunks will travel along those types of corridors and that's when pets will often encounter them. The best thing with skunks is, if you do see them give them their space — do not approach them. And a lot of times they will give a warning signal of stomping their feet and lifting their tail in the air, so if you see that happening you know to back away.”
While a bath in tomato juice does technically work to wash off skunk spray, the ODNR does not suggest using it as it causes an unnecessary mess — particular when pets are involved. Instead, they recommend using a mixture of 1 quart hydrogen peroxide, half a cup of baking soda, and a tablespoon of dish soap. This mixture is safe for humans and animals alike and can be used to wash skunk spray off skin or clothes.
Despite their smelly reputation, not all Ohio residents are skunk-adverse. In fact, North Ridgeville, Ohio holds an annual community event, Skunkfest, to celebrate the furry fiends. Organizers described the event as; “A friendly gathering for skunk lovers & skunk owners from everywhere to share some fun and discussions about skunks.” The most recent event in September 2018 drew over 1,000 attendees and benefitted the non-profit group Skunk Haven, a nonprofit shelter and educational center.