Skunk in my coop!

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by Astrid, May 3, 2012.

  1. Astrid

    Astrid Songster

    132
    2
    144
    Dec 30, 2007
    Connecticut
    This morning I went to get in my car to go to work, and as usual I dropped my bag, keys, etc. in the car and then walked up to the coop/run, talking to the girls as I went and scanning the run as I did my morning "head count." All are there, plus one extra-- a SKUNK! The hens didn't seem panicked, and were clamoring at the front of the run like usual, begging for their morning scratch while Pepe LePue toddled around behind them, snuffling up bits of scratch left over from yesterday, I guess. I froze, backed up and watched from a safe distance while calling my husband on the phone and trying not to sound hysterical. [​IMG]

    Pepe toddled up the ramp into the coop, and I could hear him banging around in there. Again, chickens didn't seem panicked, just going about their morning business, and some even followed him in. I get the feeling he's a regular breakfast visitor. And I think I need to apologize to my hens for all the times I"ve blamed them for breaking eggs and eating the contents.

    BUT, more importantly-- is it NORMAL for skunks to be out and about at about 8:00 am? It's not, right? Or do you think he was just heading to bed? We live in a suburban neighborhood of old Victorian homes, most with carriage barns behind, and in fact part of our barn is our coop, so I KNOW we have more than our share of healthy skunks and raccons around. But do you think I should be concerned that he's rabid?

    AND HOLY CRAP-- HOW DO I GET HIM OUT?! I had to leave for work, and how the heck would I have gotten him out anyway? I figured if he got in, he could get out again, and if he did so on his own terms the likelihood of either myself and/or the ladies getting sprayed was much less, so I reluctantly left for work.

    Now I realize that we've had a security breach, and if Pepe LaPue got in, Ricky Racoon could also get in, so that will be addressed tonight. But in the meantime, I just needed to come here and do this: [​IMG] and this [​IMG] and finally this [​IMG]

    and ask if this is normal skunk-chicken behavior? Should my hens have been afraid? We've never had problems with predators in the past, and honestly, my chickens weren't acting as if anything was out of the ordinary. To skunks pose a risk to chickens? I'm afraid to go home and check, though I know that's silly-- they way they were acting, Pepe has been there before.

    Any advice?

    astrid
     
  2. Nslangton

    Nslangton Chirping

    201
    9
    91
    Jan 19, 2012
    You have to get rid of it or at least stop it from entering your coop and run. I think that you are very, very lucky that your birds are not dead. They usually eat eggs, but if none are there it will eat your chickens heads off. It obviously knows where the free meal is and will not stop coming back for more. Not sure if it is normal to be out in the morning, but I think that if it was rabid it would look disheveled and wouldn't be eating.
     
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    23,955
    11,665
    707
    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    Skunks, raccoons, foxes, coyotes, snakes, many different predators will roam and hunt during the day. Many are usually nocturnal but just because you see one during the day does not mean it has rabies or that anything else is wrong. However, always treat any wild animal as if it might be sick or dangerous, because they are potentially dangerous ansd they just might be sick. It is very wise to take precautions. And if the animal is behaving erratically, it is really wise to take precautions.

    Skunks will kill and eat chickens, especially at night when they are on the roost and an easy target. They will also scavenge on dead chickens or other dead animals. But usually they are after eggs. That behavior sounds a lot like you described. He is probably a regular visitor for eggs. But the risk that he will kill a chicken is there.

    Chickens are a lot like many other animals. They can be really nervous around another animal for a while, but if nothing bad happens, they get used to it. Again, that calm behavior makes it sound like the skunk has been there before.

    What can you do? First, find out how it is getting in and fix it. As far as removing it, that depends a lot on where you live. I'm in the country so I would probably shoot it. Some people will get a live trap and catch it. They may dispose of it themselves or maybe they can call animal control. I would suggest calling animal control and see what your options are. They may catch it for you, they may come get it if you catch it, they may lend you a trap, or they may say you are on your own.

    One of my neighbors is a taxidermist. If I catch something in its winter pelt he will usually take it off my hands but if it is out of season, he does not want it. You might try calling taxidermists around you to see if they would take it.

    You should have trappers around you that will take care of it for a fee, usually a large fee. It is generally illegal to release a trapped animal unless you do it on your own property. That's where talking to animal control may really help, to find out what your options are.
     
  4. CorinneP

    CorinneP Songster

    860
    24
    113
    Apr 19, 2012
    Up State New York
    YIKES !!!!
     
  5. WildWorks

    WildWorks Songster

    310
    36
    141
    Jan 27, 2012
    Hamilton, Texas
    You need to shoot it, when it sees you, it will more than likely run away, let it get away from your coop and when you have a clean shot at it, kill it. The problem comes after, because they will almost always spray or leak their stink juice out, no matter where you shoot them, they are going to release it. Just get a towel, pour vanilla extract on it, tie it around your face, and go collect the animal and remove it to a place it can decompose without stinking up the place.

    If you cant discharge a firearm where you live, put a live trap out and trap it, good luck getting it out, i have always had to shoot them in the trap, which ruins the trap for awhile.

    Good luck!!!

    Shunks are notorious egg eaters, once they find an easy access, they wont stop.
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2012
  6. Astrid

    Astrid Songster

    132
    2
    144
    Dec 30, 2007
    Connecticut
    Yeah....I guess that would explain why production's been down. We live in a residential area and skunks are everywhere. I think the best we can do is repair the hole-- which my husband found tonight. It's in a back run which the birds have access to but we only use when we have babies so they can have a separate play area from the big girls-- we call it the "Kindergarten Coop." We just shut and barred the door to the coop for tonight since it was past dark when we got out there, but we'll wage fence warfare this weekend.

    Sorry Monsieur Le Pue, your favorite breakfast place just closed.

    Thanks for the replies.

    astrid
     
  7. jbsnavely

    jbsnavely Hatching

    1
    0
    6
    Nov 17, 2014
    I also was blaming my hens for eating their eggs until finding that a family (2 adults and 2 young ) of skunks had taken up residence in my barn. After being "surprised but not sprayed" a few times while feeding the chickens and our goats we eradicated the adults hoping the two young would move out. Not so. I don't even know if the hens are even laying as they seem very stressed by the situation. Takes a lot of time and patience to catch and eliminate the buggers. Anyone have other strategies?
     
  8. gawildlife

    gawildlife Chirping

    212
    21
    61
    Nov 3, 2014
    Hampton, GA
    Skunks are my absolute favorite critter to catch. I've caught more than my share and wish we had more in my area to catch. In my experience they are fairly easy to catch and even easier to handle and release, though I'm am required by law to euthanize RVS (rabies vector species) species here. Of the many many I have caught not a one has sprayed, a few young frisky ones dribbled but no spray. The best part though is they are easy jobs to sell.

    Tell your husband not to cover that hole yet. Skunks are diggers and unless every area is reinforced with either concrete footings or a heavy gauge solid wire apron buried >18" down he will be back and may even have a partner as skunks, in my experience, live in loose colonies with many individuals sharing dens or burrows. Your best strategy to catch this stinker is to use a double door trap placed at the hole with blocking so that passage through the trap is the only access to the hole. We call this a positive set and does not require bait though bait is icing on the cake. Since there may be multiples I always set multiples. Park a trap on each side of the first trap facing out or if you do not have a double door place one pointing in toward the hole and one next it pointing out. Again multiples for multiple skunks. All traps should be wrapped in an opaque material on the sides like black garbage bags. Trash bags and duct tape are indispensable to a nuisance trapper.
    Baiting for skunks should always "match the hatch" in other words use a bait that matches best with what they are currently eating. I've used everything from sweet baits (honey buns, donuts, honeycomb) to protein/meat based (when they are mousing in barns) to grub/larvae based (when they are grubbing in yards). In this case eggs shells are perfect as would one of the synthetic fermented egg solid commercial lures. Also it helps to give them a taste to lead them into the trap by laying a short trail of morsels into the trap. But as I said you have a perfect positive set so baiting isn't as critical as it might be with a grubbing skunk (the most difficult).
    Now for the fun part, how to handle a trapped skunk. It's easy just pick up the trap and walk away with it, really it's that simple. The reason for covering the trap is that skunks are visual in nature and really only respond defensively to dangers they see. Of course don't put him on alert to things he can't see with rough handling either. Just talk softly to mister stinker as you approach quietly, gently lift the trap being sure to keep the open ends away from alarming sights like yourself or other people, carefully carry the trap to the truck or location where you'll do the deed.
    If you have the option to release do so at least ten miles distant and on land where you have permission to do so. Now this can get dicey but again I've never been sprayed. Set the trap on the ground and while straddling the trap while standing over it you lean over and hook a bungee cord onto the door while you open the door WITH OUT EXPOSING YOUR FACE TO THE SKUNK. Now hook the other end of the bungee so that the door is held open. Slowly walk away and let the skunk emerge at his own pace. I've actually dumped a few slow pokes out but I'm comfortable enough to know what I can get away with.
    Now if you must euthanize like I do here then your best option is a CO2 chamber, google it, followed by an injection pole, again google, followed by the deep swim, lastly a clean shot from a distance but even the cleanest shot can not forestall the natural reflex.

    Of course if odor is not an issue a body gripper trap, if legal, slapped over the hole will kill it DRT but expect to smell the results.

    Good luck and don't be afraid to call in a pro like myself nothing to be ashamed of.

    Oh yeah, once all skunks are caught and dealt with have hubby get that foundation sealed up.
     
  9. gawildlife

    gawildlife Chirping

    212
    21
    61
    Nov 3, 2014
    Hampton, GA
    BTW, the traps I refer to are cage traps. Any quality brand will suffice for skunks but the best made and the ones I make my living with are made right here in Moultrie, GA by a very good friend of mine. I actually had some input in some of the cages and would say the same thing about them whether or not Kirk Dekalb was a friend or not and I'd call Kirk a great friend even if his traps weren't the best. www.advancedtrap.com

    JMO, I'd avoid any trap you can find at TSC. We call them catch and self release traps for a reason. The next level of low quality is found at the big box and we call them havajunks.

    Be sure to check your local laws just for cya and don't even think about foothold traps. Every funny or not so funny skunk story we trappers like to tell always involves a skunk caught in a foothold.
     
  10. threadgeek

    threadgeek Chirping

    Astrid, any luck catching Pepe? I've had a whole freaking family here and have been battling them for a few months now. I've successfully trapped and relocated 2, as gawildlife says it really isn't hard as long as you take precautions as the youtube tutorials state.
    I have found that if you have a less than perfect coop. (Thats me), then those persistant buggers will relentlessly test every entry point. Its crazy but I guess they have all night to dig. Arggg! Anyway, I feel your pain!!!
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: