Often heard in the backyard, skunks make different types of sounds that indicate how they feel and even the reasons they are close to your home. Distinguishing between these sounds helps identify their state and each sound has associated with a feeling or an activity such as anger or looking for food.
Skunks are typically silent, so if you hear one making a lot of noise, it might be a sign that it feels threatened or is in danger. It is best to move slowly backward and give the animal some room.
Skunks make sounds to communicate when they are angry, annoyed, sniffing, or when defending themselves both as males and as pregnant females. Sounds such as hissing and squealing are some of the loudest while scratching noises are barely audible.
- Skunks make vocalizing sounds and movement sounds
- Vocalizing sounds include snuffling, hissing, and chirping
- Stomping and scratching are sounds skunks make through movement
- Loud spraying sounds are also made by defending skunks
How Do You Identify a Skunk Sound?
Loud noises help identify skunk sounds around the house. Skunks looking for food, moving around the yard, or seeking a safe place to hide in while pregnant are the most likely to make various sounds.
This species is not making noises and sounds all the time. You can distinguish its sounds from others by their timing as well, as skunks are nocturnal.
While sometimes active during the day, most sounds skunks make are heard at night.
What Sound Do Skunks Make?
Skunks make a series of sounds related to their activity. Sounds may be the result of their activity (as in the case of digging) or an active noise they make to communicate (as in the case of whimpering).
Here are 10 of the most common sounds skunks make and the occasions these sounds are heard in.
Loud spraying sounds are among the most common noises skunks are known for. Spraying is a defensive mechanism for skunks that use it against small and large animals or against humans.
The bad smell similar to rotten eggs is sprayed directly on the perceived threat. Thiol is the compound in the spray that ends up on the predators or the threat and is accompanied by a loud spraying sound.
Spraying sounds can be confirmed by the raised tail position.
Snuffling sounds are among the most common sounds skunks make. The nose of skunks makes snuffling sounds when looking for food.
This sound stops when food is found and inspected. True omnivores, skunks snuffle for seeds, fruit, and small animal eggs they routinely eat.
Scratching and Scraping
Skunks make scratching noises when digging with their front feet. Scraping noises help them relieve an itch while scratching is a sound they make when digging for food.
Some of the favorite foods skunks dig for include grubs and earthworms found in gardens, on the lawn, or anywhere else their noses guide them.
Scratching noises are nighttime-specific as skunks are more likely to look for food at night.
Snapping and Chirping
Snapping or chirping are among the most common sounds skunks make when seeking out the attention of another skunk, typically for mating.
Chirps are brief loud noises females may make when seeking the attention of males. Chirps may be more aggressive when coming from males but are also specific to the mating season.
Chirps aren’t the only sound skunks make when seeking out a mating partner. Whining or squealing sounds are also heard during this peak activity period of the species.
Hissing and Squealing
Hissing sounds are typically heard by humans. These sounds angry skunks make when cornered or discovered in an area such as under the patio or in the basement.
This is a defensive sound that aims to signal humans and animals that the skunk wants to be left alone.
Hissing and squealing signal anger and this might be a type of warning sign to consider just before skunks prepare for their smelly secret weapon, spraying.
Stomping is another type of warning sound skunks make just before spraying. This is a type of sound skunks can also make during the day.
Predators might approach skunks at any time and they aren’t afraid to stomp as a last effort to use loud sounds to deter predators before spraying.
Screaming and whining
Whining and screaming sounds are loud and aggressive. These sounds are specific to both males and females during the mating season.
Male skunks fighting over a female mate might become highly aggressive and scream during their ruffles with other males.
Females may also make screaming-like noises when defending the young.
A lost skunk in your backyard or a skunk trapped in the garage or the basement may make whimpering noises.
This noise alerts us about the state of the skunk which might be frightened. Not knowing how to react, skunks resort to whimpering.
As with most animals, skunks can also get upset. They can get upset when they can’t reach a bug they’re trying to catch or when humans or animals get in their way.
These are typical times grumbling sounds are made by skunks.
Some of the less common times when skunks grumble include pain. Injured skunks unable to move or that only move poorly may sometimes be heard making a grumbling noise.
Predator intimidation and keeping food competitors away are times when skunks are heard smacking their lips.
Noises they make with their lips may or may not scare off predators. Most animals in the area become alert of their presence when skunks smack their lips.
How Do Skunks Communicate Through Sound?
Skunks have poor vision and rely on smell and hearing senses to communicate, find food, and mate. Various noises are made by skunks looking to communicate either with fellow skunks or with a potential threat.
Males may smack their lips in a territorial effort to win the attention of a female in the mating season. Chirping sounds are also typical noises male skunks make to get the full attention of a prospective mate.
Stomping sounds are also territorial, but not intended for other skunks. They can make stumping sounds against predators such as coyotes, cougars, and even bears.
Both male and female skunks rely on sounds and smell to find a prospective mate. Poor vision and specific nighttime activity make skunks highly dependent on noises to find a prospective mate.
Most skunks begin mating in February. Some of them begin mating even earlier, in January. The mating season lasts until March.
This is a peak activity period skunks are heading around homes and making different noises.
Aggressive males seeking out female partners can be heard whining, hissing, and chirping in the mating period between January and March.
Approaching skunks in their mating period might be more difficult and you know their warning signs call for a professional skunk control company.
What Time of Day Are Skunks Active?
Skunks are very active at night and partially active during the day. They prefer to come out at night and even daytime activity doesn’t help them too much as they have poor vision.
Most of the sounds skunks are associated with can be heard at night. These striped animals prefer to live solitary lives and spotting multiple loud skunks together is a rare sight.
Categories of Sounds You May Hear Skunks Make in Your Backyard
Correctly identifying skunks in the backyard can help you decide how to take action to remove the animal from the premises. Here are some of the typical sounds they make in key activities.
Running noises – skunks can run at speeds of up to 10 miles per hour. These fast animals can be heard running and trampling on your driveway, lawn, or around the garden where they can feed on various legumes.
Trapped skunk noises – a trapped skunk is a loud skunk. Agitation and loud hissing sounds are specific to the species when stuck in a place such as a house or in an animal trap.
Spraying skunk noises – spraying noises in the backyard means there’s a threat skunks are facing. A dog might be one of the sprayed animals by a skunk. Stray dogs can follow skunks at night. Your house dog might also be interested in their activity.
Mating skunk noises – chirping sounds at night are a clear mating call, especially during the breeding season. This might be one of the few times when you may spot multiple skunks in the same place.
Feeding skunk noises – smacking lips and scratching noises are specific to feeding skunks or skunks actively looking for food. They can do this in the ground, where they can dig up various worms and bugs.
Pregnant skunk noises – whining sounds are specific to pregnant or lactating skunks. Young skunks (called kits) are also known for making sounds similar to crying and whining.
Skunks make different types of sounds when mating, eating or looking for food. They also have an array of sounds when defending themselves or when trying to keep predators away.
Most skunks hiss before spraying a perceived predator or threat. They screech and grumble when angry and they snuff when looking for food. Chirping sounds are made by skunks from January to March, during their mating season. Lip smacking and spraying sounds are also attributed to skunks tackling their predators.
Various sounds are specific to skunks that go about their life. Learning these sounds can come to your advantage as you can learn to get away before it sprays when it stomps. You may also learn that skunks are trapped on your property when they make a whimpering sound.
Whining sounds also mark the possible breeding period of skunks which are known to be aggressive during this period. Aggressive skunks are difficult to remove from your home’s surroundings. This might be the perfect time to call a professional.
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