Avoiding and Treating Getting Sprayed by a Skunk

skunk spraying

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Skunks are known for the foul smelling substance they often produce and they aren't easily forgotten because of how that smell lingers. Knowing why skunks spray may help you avoid being a victim, but if you or your pet do happen to get sprayed, you'll want to know how to make that smell go away as soon as possible.

Why Do Skunks Spray?

Skunks have two glands located near their rectal opening that contain the liquid that they are known for. Since the liquid is sprayed out in a mist, some people may not realize that this smell isn't a gas, but the glands produce a yellow, oily substance. When a skunk is startled, frightened, intimidated, or defensive it will forceably release this liquid to scare off whatever is causing it to be afraid. Spraying this liquid is not a skunk's first choice, but if it feels as though it has no other option to escape then it can spray up to 15 feet in an attempt to get away. They can do this up to five times in a row if necessary.

How to Avoid Getting Sprayed by a Skunk

If you find yourself approaching a skunk, the best thing you can do to avoid getting sprayed is to back away. This well help prevent the skunk from thinking you are trying to hurt it and feel as though it's only option to keep you away is to spray you. Even if the skunk doesn't see you and you continue to approach it, you may end up startling it which will result in you getting sprayed.

If you accidentally find yourself face to face with a skunk, you should do what you can to help the skunk feel as though it has room to escape. Slowly back away so that the skunk doesn't feel cornered or stand still if you have nowhere to go. If the skunk start to arch its back, stomp its feet, and raise its tail up these are signs that it may be about to spray. If this happens and you have nowhere to go, turn your back towards the skunk and close your eyes to help keep the spray from getting in your mouth, nose, or eyes.

How to Get Rid of Skunk Spray Smell

If you find that you or your pet has been sprayed by a skunk, rinse it off with water for 10 minutes as soon as possible in case any came in contact with the eyes. This will not remove the smell but it will help prevent any of the fluid from damaging the eyes.

In order to get rid of the skunk spray smell, various concotions have been recommended over the years. Tomato juice and shampoo are often used but to be more effective, you'll want to use more than that. A simple yet effective homemade solution for eliminating skunk spray smell is as follows:

  • 1 qt. 3% hydrogen peroxide
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 1 tsp. dish detergent

After mixing these three ingredients together, bathe yourself or your pet in the solution while carefully avoiding the face. Hydrogen peroxide can cause a bleaching effect so be careful with colored washcloths, towels, and any clothing it may come in contact with. Rinse and repeat as needed. This solution cannot be stored so you will unfortunately need to make it as needed but hopefully getting sprayed by a skunk is not a regular occurrence.

Do Pet Skunks Spray?

Pet skunks are anatomically the same as their wild counterparts but most pet skunks have their scent glands removed at a very young age. This is done to prevent a skunk from being able to spray and therefore not be able to make that foul smelling odor since they live indoors. But even though pet skunks don't have scent glands, the skunks don't know this and may still act as though they can spray. This means that pet skunks may still arch their backs, stomp, and raise their tail straight up like they're going to spray you if they feel scared or threatened but nothing will come out.