Do Skunks Eat Chickens?

Around Valentine's Day each year, skunks start to be top of mind for homeowners and chicken keepers alike. Why? It's mating time for skunks and their smell permeates the air. With these critters at the forefront, many wonder do skunks eat chickens? Do I need to worry about skunks?

Do Skunks Eat Chickens?

Can skunks eat chickens? Yes. Do skunks eat chickens? Not as a main food source. Skunks are omnivores, meaning their diet consists of what they can find. They eat both meat and plants. Skunks can eat chickens, but they are not the main threat. Since skunks are opportunists, they will eat chickens if they can easily get to them. Skunks, however, are much more interested in the chicken food in your coop and the eggs in your nest boxes.

Skunks live throughout the United States and are nocturnal, meaning they are mainly active at night, although they can also be found getting an early start in the evening and keeping late hours in the early mornings. Skunks have become habituated to humans in many areas. They learn to find easy meals through things left out; especially garbage and pet food.

As a chicken keeper, it's best to make sure your chickens are secured in their coop from the evening through the early morning. Remove invitation and temptation by keeping food and treats locked in a predator-proof area. Skunks have slightly webbed toes and long, curved claws that allow them to dig for their food. Because of this, make sure wire is buried eight to 12 inches in the ground to prevent incursions.

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Skunk Facts

Skunks are best known for their odor. They can actually spray musk accurately in two directions up to 15 feet. Skunks aren't indiscriminate sprayers. They will give warnings before spraying. If you happen upon a skunk in close quarters, pay attention to the warnings. Skunks will stomp their feet. They will then turn around and lift their tail. Last, they will turn their head toward you and hiss. If you're not gone by then, spraying will commence. Most animals learn early on to avoid skunks for this reason.

Skunks are about the size of a house cat. They live in a variety of habitats and in their natural habitat eat many things including insects, fish, crustaceans, nuts, berries, grasses and even already dead animals.

Skunks den up and give birth to litters consisting of two to 10 babies that are born pink-skinned and blind. By their second week, babies are fully furred. By their third week, their eyes have opened. They are usually weaned and will be out with their mom on nightly hunting forays by their sixth week. Skunk families stay together for about a year until the next spring. 

Skunks are generally more afraid of you than you are of them. If you remove temptation and areas where they can den up with their babies, you shouldn't have problems with them. If you do see a skunk, watch from a safe distance and let it go on its way. 

1 comment:

  1. How adorable! I wonder at what age they start to spray? Cute photos :)


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