Odor isn't the only indicator a skunk has been in your yard. Upturned plants and lawn damage, along with the telltale scent, all point to the striped marauder. Skunks feed at night and sleep during the day, so you must wait until morning to find the signs that a skunk has been paying your yard a nighttime visit.

Mother and baby skunks
credit: Gary Nash/iStock/Getty Images
Skunk damage may peak in fall when the animals begin preparing for winter.

Digging Down

Small, cone-shaped holes are the most common sign a skunk has been busy in your yard. The holes usually measure between 3 and 5 inches across, but the skunks may dig many holes close together, making the ground appear tilled or torn up in a larger area. Skunks may dig in the lawn in search of grubs, or they may focus their efforts on the softer soil in a garden bed. This can result in broken or uprooted plants. Skunks don't usually eat plants, so you won't see chew marks on the plants.

Pulling Up

In lawns, skunks may skip the digging and instead roll back the grass in search of their chosen treat. This damage is most common in areas with new sod, or where the grass has shallow roots. Grub damage to grass roots can also loosen the sod so a skunk can easily pull it up. If you have a combination of small holes and pieces of sod torn up, skunks are the likely culprits. Raccoons will also roll back sod in search of insects, but they don't typically dig small holes.

Napping Spots

Skunk burrows aren't always easy to find. They may use a burrow abandoned by another animal, so any deep hole in the yard could harbor a skunk. Skunks will also set up a den in a brush pile, hollow log, under a deck or beneath a building. A faint yet persistent skunk odor in a particular area of the yard may indicate a sleeping skunk is nearby, especially if it is a likely area for them to hide out during the day.

Saying Goodbye

If your yard provides water, food and shelter, skunks may find it a good place to live and forage. Fill in holes, remove brush piles and screen off access under decks, porches and buildings to get rid of any potential den sites. Food attracts skunks, so keep fallen fruits cleaned up and put tight lids on any trash cans. Skunks can't climb or jump, so fencing in the yard can keep them out. If a skunk has taken up residence in your yard, you may need to contact a professional for removal. In some areas it's illegal to trap or transport skunks and they may carry rabies or other diseases.