Is it a skunk or raccoon?

Skunks and raccoons are common in rural and urban areas across Western Canada. While they might look cute, both animals can do damage to your home and property. So how do you know if you have a skunk or raccoon problem? Here are some clues.


The raccoon is a small to medium-sized North American mammal, with a length of 40 to 70 centimetres and a weight of five to 26 kilograms. It has a grey coat with dense underfur, which insulates it against cold weather. Distinctive features include rings on its tail and a black facial mask.

Another distinguishing characteristic of the raccoon is its dexterity. It has hypersensitive paws and can use those paws and its claws to open garbage can lids, doors, gates, and containers. Their paws also make them adept climbers.

Raccoons are primarily nocturnal creatures and strong swimmers: they can swim up to five kilometres an hour and spend several hours in the water.


Skunks are generally smaller than raccoons, at 38 to 94 centimetres long and rarely weighing more than eight kilograms. They have slender black bodies with distinctive white stripes across their backs and long tails that curl upward.

Skunks are known for their ability to emit foul-smelling sulphurous chemicals from their anal glands when threatened. The smell is so pungent that humans can smell a skunk’s spray from a far distance away.

Like raccoons, skunks are also mainly nocturnal and have very weak eyesight. They can’t climb and are active close to the ground.

Another feature of skunks is carnassial teeth, which are a set of teeth that act like scissors to slice through meat and plants. Their first upper molars are broad teeth they use to crush their food.

What to look for

If you wake up and find your lawn has been torn up by animals, there’s a good chance you have a raccoon or a skunk visiting your yard. Both animals dig into the soil to find worms and grubs to eat.

Skunks create shallow holes surrounded by loose soil. The hole is about the size of a skunk’s nose, as they sniff the ground, and then dig with their front claws. Raccoons, on the other hand, prefer to tear up the sod with their dexterous paws.

Trusted and dependable pest control in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba

At Poulin’s Pest Control, we can help you rid your property of unwanted guests without harming them. Our trained technicians know how to make your property less appealing to animals and how to remove them from your home and grounds altogether. Contact us today to book a visit from one of our highly trained and certified technicians.

Spread the love