Skinks are a type of lizard commonly found in many parts of the world, including North America, Africa, and Australia. While they are harmless to humans, they can cause damage to gardens and yards. Additionally, their droppings and shed skin can be unsightly. Therefore, it is important to know how to get rid of skinks safely and humanely. In this guide, we will cover various methods of skink prevention and removal.
Identifying Skinks in Your Area
Before you can start getting rid of skinks, it is important to know what they look like and where they are likely to be found.
Physical Characteristics of Skinks
Skinks are small to medium-sized lizards, typically ranging in size from 3 to 12 inches in length. They have smooth, shiny scales and a long, slender body with a pointed snout. Their legs are short and they move quickly, often in a snake-like motion. Skinks come in a variety of colors and patterns, but most commonly have brown or gray skin with stripes or spots.
Common Types of Skinks
There are many species of skinks, but some of the most common types found in North America include:
- Five-lined skinks: These skinks are found in eastern North America and are named for the five yellow stripes that run down their backs.
- Southeastern five-lined skinks: Similar to five-lined skinks, but found primarily in the southeastern United States.
- Ground skinks: These skinks are small and typically have a tan or brown coloration with a series of dark stripes on their backs.
- Broad-headed skinks: These skinks are larger than other species and have a wide, triangular head.
Habitats and Behaviors
Skinks are most commonly found in warm, dry climates and can often be seen sunbathing on rocks or other surfaces. They are typically active during the day and are most active during the summer months. Skinks are generally solitary creatures and are not aggressive towards humans or pets. They are also good climbers and can often be found in trees or other elevated areas.
The best way to get rid of skinks is to prevent them from entering your property in the first place. Here are some preventative measures you can take:
Seal Gaps and Cracks in Your Home
Skinks can enter your home through small cracks and gaps around windows, doors, and foundations. Make sure to seal any openings with caulking or weatherstripping to prevent skinks from entering.
Remove Debris and Clutter from Your Yard
Skinks like to hide in debris and clutter, such as piles of leaves, woodpiles, and stacks of bricks. Keep your yard tidy and free of debris to discourage skinks from taking up residence.
Maintain a Tidy Garden
Skinks are attracted to areas with dense vegetation, such as gardens and flower beds. Keep your garden well-maintained and free of overgrown plants to discourage skinks from making a home there.
Discourage Skink-Friendly Environments
Skinks are attracted to areas with a lot of insects and other small prey. Reduce the number of insects in your yard by using insect repellent and keeping your outdoor lights turned off at night.
If preventative measures aren’t enough to keep skinks away, there are a few natural repellents you can try.
Essential oils are a natural way to repel skinks. Here are two essential oils that are particularly effective:
Lemongrass oil has a strong citrus scent that skinks find unpleasant. Mix a few drops of lemongrass oil with water in a spray bottle and spray it around areas where skinks are known to be present, such as entry points to your home or around your garden.
Peppermint oil is another essential oil that is effective in repelling skinks. Like lemongrass oil, mix a few drops of peppermint oil with water in a spray bottle and spray it around areas where skinks are present.
Homemade Skink Spray
Another natural repellent you can make at home is a skink spray. Here’s how to make it:
- Mix equal parts water and white vinegar in a spray bottle.
- Add a few drops of dish soap and a few drops of essential oil (lemongrass or peppermint).
- Shake the bottle to mix the ingredients.
- Spray the solution around skink-prone areas.
Diatomaceous earth is a natural product made from the fossilized remains of tiny aquatic organisms. It is a non-toxic powder that can be sprinkled around areas where skinks are present. The powder works by dehydrating the skinks’ skin and killing them.
Introducing Natural Predators
If you have a skink problem in your yard, you can introduce natural predators that will help to control the skink population. Some natural predators of skinks include:
Trapping and Relocating Skinks
If preventative measures and natural repellents aren’t enough to get rid of skinks, trapping and relocating them may be necessary. Here’s how to do it:
Types of Humane Traps
There are two types of humane traps you can use to catch skinks: glue traps and live catch traps.
Glue traps are flat, sticky surfaces that skinks will get stuck on. They are a non-toxic option and can be disposed of without harm to the skink.
Live Catch Traps
Live catch traps are boxes with a trap door that will close when the skink enters the trap. These traps allow you to catch the skink without harming it.
Baiting the Traps
To bait the traps, use a small piece of fruit, such as a slice of banana or a grape. Place the bait inside the trap and leave the trap in an area where skinks are known to be present.
Checking and Relocating Trapped Skinks
Check the traps every few hours to see if any skinks have been caught. If a skink is caught, wear gloves to handle the trap and gently remove the skink from the trap. Then, relocate the skink at least a mile away from your home, in a safe and suitable habitat.
Tips for Successful Relocation
When relocating skinks, it is important to choose a habitat that is suitable for their survival. Here are some tips for successful relocation:
- Choose a habitat that is similar to the skink’s original habitat.
- Make sure the habitat has adequate food and water sources.
- Avoid relocating skinks near other people’s homes or businesses.
- Release skinks in an area where they will not be preyed upon by natural predators.
Chemical Repellents and Pesticides
While natural repellents and trapping methods are effective, chemical repellents and pesticides can also be used as a last resort.
When to Use Chemical Methods
Chemical repellents and pesticides should only be used as a last resort, as they can harm the environment and other animals. If all other methods have failed, then it may be necessary to use chemical methods.
Types of Chemical Repellents
Chemical repellents come in many forms, including sprays and granules. Some of the most common chemical repellents for skinks include:
- Naphthalene: Also known as mothballs, naphthalene is a strong-smelling chemical that can be used to repel skinks. However, it is toxic and should be used with caution.
- Ammonia: Ammonia is another strong-smelling chemical that can be used to repel skinks. Like naphthalene, it is toxic and should be used with caution.
- Copper strips: Copper strips can be placed around areas where skinks are present. The copper will create an unpleasant sensation for the skinks and deter them from entering the area.
Risks and Precautions
Chemical repellents and pesticides can be harmful to the environment and other animals, as well as humans. If you choose to use these methods, be sure to follow the instructions carefully and take the necessary precautions, such as wearing gloves and a mask. Additionally, be sure to keep these products out of reach of children and pets.
Proper Application and Usage
When using chemical repellents and pesticides, be sure to follow the instructions carefully. Most products will need to be applied around areas where skinks are known to be present, such as entry points to your home or around your garden.
If you are unable to get rid of skinks on your own, it may be necessary to call in a professional pest control service.
When to Call a Professional
If all other methods have failed, or if you have a large skink infestation, it may be necessary to call a professional. Additionally, if you are uncomfortable using chemicals or handling traps, a professional can help.
How to Choose a Reputable Pest Control Service
When choosing a pest control service, be sure to look for a company that is licensed and insured. Additionally, look for a company that uses eco-friendly and humane methods whenever possible.
What to Expect from Professional Services
A professional pest control service will typically begin by inspecting your property to determine the extent of the skink infestation. They will then develop a plan to remove the skinks using the most effective and humane methods. They may use traps, repellents, or pesticides, depending on the situation.
Skink Prevention in the Long-Term
Getting rid of skinks is one thing, but preventing them from coming back is another. Here are some tips for long-term skink prevention:
Keep your home and yard well-maintained to prevent skinks from taking up residence. This includes sealing cracks and gaps, removing debris, and maintaining a tidy garden.
Monitoring for Skink Activity
Keep an eye out for skinks and other pests in and around your home. Early detection can help prevent an infestation from becoming too large to handle on your own.
Importance of Balanced Ecosystems
Remember that skinks play an important role in the ecosystem, controlling insect populations and serving as prey for other animals. Whenever possible, use humane and eco-friendly methods to get rid of skinks and other pests.
Getting rid of skinks can be a challenge, but with the right methods and tools, it is possible to do so safely and humanely. Remember to start with preventative measures, try natural repellents, and use trapping or relocation as necessary. If all else fails, you can call in a professional pest control service. By following these steps and maintaining a tidy yard, you can help prevent skinks from taking up residence in your home.