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  • USA Wildlife Removal Education Guide - How to Keep Skunks out of the Garbage Can

How to Keep Skunks out of the Garbage Can

Most animals spend their waking hours in search of food and they will gladly take it where they find it. Skunks are no exception. They are opportunistic eaters and when they sense an easy meal in the form of an open garbage can, they are all too happy to accept the invitation.

When a skunks foraging takes it to a garbage can, the problem isn’t what it eats, it’s what it leaves behind. If the lid is loose, the animals can sense the availability of food inside. Using their long, strong claws, they can move the lid until they can gain entry. From there, it’s a matter of digging around until they find what they want, eat their fill and ego on their way. One serious problem: depending on the depth of the can, skunks may have a problem climbing back out since the smooth interior surface doesn’t provide them with a purchase.

Probably the best solution is to have space in a garage or an outdoor enclosure that keep the skunks away from the cans, but lacking such a facility, there are several ways to secure the cans themselves. The most obvious is to makes sure the lid that can be pressed on tightly so that the animals can’t pry it loose.

Too, if the can has handles, you can run a bungee cord or light chain through them and over the top so the lid can’t be lifted or shifted. (Securing the lid can also contain the aromas that attract the animals in the first place.) Some garbage cans have lock-down handles that can be pulled up over the lids, effectively securing them in place. Yet other models are available with screw-on lids.

Besides these physical exclusion techniques, there are also some chemically based solutions that keep the skunks away but don’t harm them. Pouring a cup of ammonic inside the can will keep them out, and a sprinkling of black pepper or an ammonia-soaked rage on top of the can will help keep them away. Another easily obtained and inexpensive example is mothballs, which can be spread around the garbage can site. Skunks prowl with their noses close to the ground, and when they encounter the noxious odor of the naphtha-based pellets, they are unlikely to go further.

And since skunks forage mostly at night, you can use bright floodlights to discourage them and/or to drive them away. If they’re getting after your garbage can, you’ll hear them -- or possibly smell their presence. If you suddenly confront your invader with an assault of bright light, chances are it will head for a friendlier environment.

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