How to Get Skunks Out of Your Basement and Yard


Basements and crawl spaces under houses make idea dens for urban critters. If we could charge rent for all the skunks, raccoons and feral cats that have taken up residence under the house we’d have paid off the mortgage by now. Our particular crawl space critter B&B was opened by virtue of a flimsy access door. Some animal, most likely a raccoon, pried it open. The problem with this situation is that you can’t just close up the door. Some poor creature would die a horrible death and then stink up the house for months. The answer is to create a one-way critter exit.

To make an exit you need a raccoon trap. I got a cheap one at Harbor Freight. But you’re not going to use it to trap animals. Trapping is a hassle, and I’d hate to have to deal with a pissed off skunk stuck in a trap. Thankfully these traps open up on both sides. Open both ends and you’ve essentially got a wire tube that will shut closed after an animal exits. Critters can leave but they can’t get back in.

You’ll need to set the trap and monitor it for a few days. The flaw in this plan is, of course, that an animal trying to get in your basement will also close the door on the trap (this is why you need to keep the trap in place for a few days to make sure everyone has a chance to exit).

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I’m also using the trap to rid the backyard of the skunks that live under our shed. First, I skunk proofed the yard. Then I set up the one way exit at the back gate. I ran some wire up between the gap over the one way exit so the skunk can’t climb over the trap.

My one way exit seems to have worked at the crawl space entrance and at the backyard gate. Lacking a security camera I did a recreation:


Now you know what urban Los Angeles skunks look  like. Hopefully Madame Skunk is happily dancing the night away at Club Los Globos instead of digging for grubs in my vegetable beds.

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  1. Very thoughtful and ingenious way to get rid of them. Proof that many times the best solution = low-tech + thoughtful consideration of the problem. The skunks in my yard in San Diego certainly never looked like that either, must be a big city LA thing.

  2. For several years, two different renters accused me of opening the little door into their basement. It sat on the side of the house facing me. They even put a cinder block there to hold the door shut, and it was moved. Maybe a raccoon moved it. I never thought about that, just thought the people were nuts. Their basement was just a hole that filled with water, not my kind of environment. Maybe the mystery is solved.

    WHY would I open a tiny door that led to a huge mud pit???

    Some people in this county left their home for a week or two and went to visit relatives. When they came back, skunks trapped in the crawl space sprayed the house. The people removed belongings and had to destroy most of their furniture and clothing. Removing carpet and sheetrock and insulation was no help in odor abatement. This gained national news attention. Companies were donating product and services to help the elderly couple. The last I heard, they still could not lived in their home. Skunks are abundant here and obviously serious business.

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