skunk in the wild

Skunks: Why They Smell & How to Get Rid of The Odor 

April 7, 2021

Have ever been sprayed by a skunk? Has your dog? If you or man’s best friend have been on the smelly end of that spray, you may have wondered why it smells so bad and how you are ever going to get rid of that noxious smell. 

Skunk spray has been likened to tear gas, rotten eggs, burning rubber, and decomposing fish. These are all apt descriptions. But only the unlucky few who have been sprayed know the truth; once you have that oily, yellow liquid on you, it’s not just the smell but the taste and the overall stomach-turning sensation that can overcome even the strongest of us. 

Let’s explore why skunks have such a vile odor and look at some of the best resources we have found to rid yourself of the smell should you ever get sprayed. 

skunk

Why Do Skunks Have This Odor?

Skunks smell for a very simple reason. The smell is a defense mechanism that is meant to alert and scare away predators such as wolves, badgers, and foxes. Sadly, humans and unsuspecting dogs often make this list by accident as they run into skunks on walks. 

When a skunk feels threatened it first stomps its feet and hisses as a warning to whatever animal is in its path. Most wildlife (and humans) know the telltale black and white stripping of a skunk and know to keep their distance. Unfortunately to an animal or person who is not aware of the danger they are in, they may ignore the initial signs that something very malodorous is about to happen. 

Once a skunk has tried to warn off a predator with the feet stomping and hissing, they turn around and lift their tails (where a gland is located) to release an oily liquid that can be sprayed fairly accurately up to about 15 feet. This spray, which is made up of sulfur compounds called thiols, can be sprayed repeatedly 5 or 6 times in a row or until the predator has fled the area. 

How To Get Rid of Skunk Smell

Ask anyone who has ever been sprayed and they will have home remedies for getting the smell off your skin or your dog’s fur. We have done some research of our own and trust in the scientists who have concocted a formula that will neutralize skunk spray and get you back to being able to breathe normal again. 

According to the Statewide IPM Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California, there is a homemade concoction that may help neutralize the sulphur smell and reduce the noxiousness. It was developed by Paul Krebaum and published Chemical & Engineering News back in 1993. Mix the following ingredients in a large container and use immediately on humans, pets, clothing, or furniture. 

  • 1 quart 3% hydrogen peroxide
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon liquid detergent

The scientists at the Smithsonian have also pulled together some ideas that you may want to try. Check out this link for options for pets and humans. In addition, the medical experts at Healthline have created a solution for the smell as well.

 

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