Can Skunks Climb?

can skunks climb

If you have skunks visiting your yard, you’re maybe concerned that they will be able to find their way into your home. Crawling over fencing and into chimneys is a common way wildlife can make a den in your home. So you’re probably wondering can skunks climb?

Skunks can climb, but their abilities depend on the species. Striped Skunks are poor climbers and will struggle to easily climb over 1.5ft. Spotted skunks are excellent climbers and can easily scale large fences, trees, and walls. The type of surface can also affect how high the Skunk can climb.

If you want to know more about how skunks climb then keep reading. This guide will take you through everything you need to know about a skunk’s ability to climb and how that can affect your home and yard.

Let’s get going.

Can skunks climb?

Skunks can climb as it’s a skill they need to survive in the wild. Yet not all skunks have the same climbing ability. Some skunks are better at climbing than others. There are 7 species of skunk in the USA but they can be split into two distinct features: those with spots and those with stripes.

Let’s look at each skunk species and its climbing abilities.

Striped skunks

A striped skunk is the most common type of skunk found throughout the USA and Canada. They have distinctive white stripes down their backs. When people discuss skunks this is usually the species they are talking about.

Striped skunks can climb, but they aren’t great at it. You’ll find a striped skunk can climb to around a height of 1.5ft (18inches) but will struggle over this height. That means that even small fences can be pretty effective against striped skunks.

Although their ability to climb higher can be aided by platforms to jump onto or materials such as chainmail fencing which help them to grip better.

Striped skunks find it hard to climb as they have long nails which get in the way. They don’t use their nails to grip, and so it would be quite rare to find a striped skunk claiming a tree.

The skunks that fit into the poor climber category are:

  • Striped Skunk
  • Hooded Skunk
  • American Hog-Nosed Skunk

Spotted skunk

Spotted skunks are the next most common species found in the USA. The specific species will depend on your location but they are mostly found in the East, South, and West.

You’ll notice a spotted skunk as they have several white patches on their back rather than one continuous stripe.

Spotted skunks are much smaller and lighter than their striped counterpart. This makes them much better climbers. You’ll see spotted skunks claiming over 6ft fences, up trees, and also walls. Spotted skunks have pads on their feet that help them to climb. Their long nails don’t affect their ability to climb like a striped skunk.

Skunk species that fit into the good climbing category are the

  • Western Spotted Skunk
  • Eastern Spotted Skunk
  • Pygmy Spotted Skunk
  • Southern Spotted Skunk

Why Do Skunks Climb?

The reason that skunks climb is to improve their chances of survival. This includes fleeing from predators, finding food sources and habitat.

Being able to climb will help a skunk to hide from larger predators that are unable to climb trees easily. This would usually be a last resort as skunks will use their spray first to ward off any predators.

Trees are also a rich source of food for skunks. They mainly live on a diet of insects which can be found in great numbers in trees. Especially in the summer and spring when there is plenty of insects and grubs to be found. Trees can also be a rich source of bees, honey, and eggs for skunks too.

Climbing is another way for skunks to be able to find a good place to den for winter.  Skunks don’t hibernate in winter, so attics, barns, and tree cavities are great for keeping skunks warm and sheltered from the weather. They’ll be more likely to stick around near a home if they think it’s also a good food source such as trash, pet food, or bird seed.

How High Can Skunks Climb

A striped skunk can’t climb very high, anything over 1.5ft will be too much for them. A striped skunk will easily climb up to 20ft high if it’s supported by a stable surface such as branches or a roof. Having a platform to balance on makes it much easier for a spotted skunk to climb high up.

Why are striped skunks bad climbers?

A striped skunk can climb if they need to. They’ll use what skill they have to flee from danger or to get into a really good food source.

The reality is that striped skunks are much better at digging than they are climbing. So if they can’t go over a structure then they’ll try to go under it.

This is bad news if you’re trying to keep a skunk out of your yard with a fence. Usually, they can be stopped by adding mesh wells around 6 inches under barriers like a fence.

Can skunks climb into Attics?

A striped skunk definitely doesn’t have the ability to climb into your attic or chimney to make a den. This is much too high for them to scale.

However, you’re not off the hook. The striped skunks are ground dweller so they may still use you home for a habitat. That means you’ll have to make sure all the lower areas of your home are secured. You’re looking at crawl space, basements, and underneath your porch.

Make sure your fix any loose fixtures that the skunk can squeeze past. You can put down material around your house perimeter to prevent the striped skunks from digging under the soil as a way in. This Scat Mat is one I highly recommend.

Spotted skunks will easily be able to scale their way into your house. If you have any trees near to your home it can make it easier for the spotted skunk to enter through windows, chimney, and attics.

Capping off your chimney and using mesh to block any other open areas will stop skunks from getting in. Try to cut any tree branches that reach toward your home that will help the skunks find a path into your home.

Can Skunks climb trees?

Striped skunks don’t have the ability to climb high in a tree. If you see a striped skunk in a tree, it’s a rare sighting and would mean they think are in danger from a predator. Finding a striped skunk in a tree is likely to be a sure-fire way to get sprayed, as the skunk will be highly agitated.

Spotted skunks will climb trees quite easily. You will often see a spotted skunk up a tree trying to forage for food from birds’ nests and bee hives.

Spotted skinks won’t jump down from trees as they have the ability to descend head first, just like a squirrel. This demonstrates how well spotted skunks are with their climbing abilities.

What can Skunks Climb?

SurfaceStriped skunkSpotted Skunk
Fence <2ftyesYes
Fence >6ftnoYes
WallsNoYes
TreesNoYes
ChimneysNoYes
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Final thoughts

Skunks can climb, but their abilities will depend on the species. Striped skunks are poor climbers but will attempt to climb to get to food or flee predators. They are too big and are diggers than they are climbers.

Spotted skunks are a whole different story. They are small, agile, and have specialized paws to aid climbing. Spotted skunks can climb up very high to escape predators, find food and a good wintering den. That makes spotted skunks much more of a risk to your property than striped skunks.

Luckily striped dunks are more common than spotted skunks in the USA. Yet if you’re attracting skunks to your yard you may also be attracting other wildlife such as raccoons, which are a bigger problem.

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