1. What Is Skunk Spray?A skunk has two glands on either side of its anus that produce scent. The skunk is not unique in this; dogs and cats have anal scent glands too. In the case of dogs and cats, the scent glands are primarily for marking their territory, and the smell is nowhere near as strong. Nature has given skunks the ability to use their scent glands as a defensive weapon. The spray itself is an oily yellow fluid that consists of thioacetate and sulphur compounds. These chemicals are both foul-smelling and irritating to the skin and eyes. Skunks have the ability to release the fluid at will and aim it at their intended target. They can spray up to 22 feet and are accurate up to ten feet.
2. Why Do Skunks Spray?Skunks are fairly small creatures, which can make them easy prey for large predators. They use their spray to incapacitate a would-be attacker long enough for them to make an escape. They know instinctively to try to aim at their attacker's face. The chemicals can temporarily blind the would-be attacker, giving the skunks time to get away. Like most wild animals, skunks are afraid of humans. If there are skunks on your property and you attempt to remove them yourself, the skunks may feel threatened and spray. Maybe your intentions are good and you have no wish to harm the skunks, but the skunks have no way of knowing that. A mother skunk may be particularly aggressive in protecting her babies.
3. How Long Does Skunk Smell Last?The worst of the odour usually lasts for about two to three weeks. However, it may still be detectable at low levels for up to two years. If you get sprayed, it may be necessary to dispose of the clothes you were wearing at the time; your washing machine may not be up to the task of removing the smell.
4. How Can You Get Rid of the Skunk Smell?A tomato juice bath is often recommended as a home remedy for skunk spray, but while it may be effective at covering up the odour, it doesn't really get rid of it. Fortunately, there are ways that you can neutralize the odour. There are shampoo products for humans and dogs specifically formulated for neutralizing the skunk smell, but if you don't have any on hand, you may want to try to get rid of the worst of the odour before you go out and buy some. Experts recommend a mixture of one-quarter of a cup of baking soda, one quart of hydrogen peroxide in a 3% solution, and a teaspoon of liquid dish detergent. Fortunately, these are things that you probably already have around your home. The detergent helps to lift the oily residue from skin and hair, while the baking soda and peroxide neutralize the odour. There are a few things you should know before using this solution to get rid of the skunk smell:
- You may have to go through several cycles of scrubbing and rinsing before the smell starts to dissipate.
- You should keep this solution out of the eyes.
- You should not leave peroxide on your hair too long, or you could accidentally bleach it.