Let’s know about What do skunks eat. Skunks are mammals that can be identified by their distinctive black and white stripes. Noted for their unpleasant skunk spray, they produce a foul odor as a means of self-defense. These wild creatures have a reputation for scavenging food in human neighborhoods where they are regarded as pests.
However, some people keep them as pets in their homes. If you’re worried about having to sweep your trash can every night, you’re probably wondering what foods these creatures eat.
Feeding wild skunks will encourage them to come back. These animals are omnivores and are not very picky in terms of food. So, let’s take a closer look at their background and what their staple diet is.
Skunks were first identified in the 1630s. The striped skunk is the most commonly recognized species in North America.
The spotted skunk is also present in much of the US and Mexico; However, the population is small. In the Midwest, Southwest, and Mexico, you can find hooded and hog-nosed species.
Skunk species vary in size. Spotted skunks are lighter and weigh about 1-3 pounds, while striped skunks can weigh over 15 pounds.
Their bodies are relatively small, with well-muscled legs and long claws used for digging. There are five toes on each foot.
Due to cross breeding these animals come in different colors and patterns. However, the most prominent pattern is the classic black and white. Other skunk patterns range from brown, gray, speckled lavender and white and cream.
From birth, all skunks are striped, but some may have some of the white spots and broken stripes that are characteristic of the spotted skunk.
Skunks are adaptable creatures and can thrive in a variety of habitats provided there is shelter and food. These animals prefer to live within 2 miles of a water source, so will rarely travel far from their established homes.
If you’re looking for their habitat, you’ll find them in hollowed-out logs, animal burrows, tree hollows, and under porches. When they cannot access shelter options, they dig their own.
What do skunks eat?
Skunks are omnivores; Hence, they can adopt any diet. During summer and spring, most of their diet consists of insects and small prey.
When food is scarce, they turn to plants to eat. However, during the cold months of winter, skunks have problems accessing food, and this is when they invade garbage and garbage cans for food.
They feed heavily during the summer, when there is plenty of food, which helps to sustain them and their young through the colder months.
Since they have scavenger instincts, their diet is highly adaptive depending on season and availability. Because of their size, they can only attack animals that are smaller than them. When they can’t find prey to kill, they have to survive on plants and, in worse cases, edible food from your garbage can.
Let’s look at the main foods that skunks eat.
insects and small animals
Despite their unpleasant odor, skunks are beneficial to humans in several ways. On average, 70% of a skunk’s diet is made up of harmful insects. They prey on organisms that affect the typical lifestyle of human beings.
Therefore, as much as they are a nuisance to humans, they help to get rid of destructive insects in the house and yard.
Skunks eat cockroaches, grasshoppers, snakes, crickets, beetles, scorpions, spiders, mice, moles, small frogs, bees, and insects. They will also target ground-nesting birds, fish, and some small reptiles.
Skunks prey on some animals in order to teach self-defense to the young. For this, they chose to target dangerous animals like snakes and black widow spiders.
Their immunity to snake venom helps them eat venomous ones like rattlesnakes. These creatures are also one of the primary predators of bees. Their thick coat of fur protects them from bee stings.
Therefore, in addition to obtaining a nutritious diet, they use it to teach the young how to attack prey and defend themselves.
See also: What Killed My Chicken? Here’s How to Determine the Killer
Skunks prefer to eat animals over plants. However, depending on the time of year, plant material may be the most available food.
During the colder months, especially in winter and autumn, there are fewer sources of food for skiffs. Because of this, they have no choice but to eat the rotting fruits and crops on the ground. They forage for food at night and are notorious for their digging habits.
Some of the plant material that skunks feed on include edible leaves, nutritious grasses, berries, mushrooms, corn, grapes, peppers. In addition, skunks may also eat nuts, seeds, plant roots, and dead plant matter.
What do skunks eat in urban areas?
In extreme cases, when skunks cannot reach the food at all, they opt to invade homes and feed on any food they can find around your property. These can be rotting plants or garbage. These invasions are an annoyance to most humans because these animals leave visible damage on the yard.
Skunks will raid garbage and dumpsters in search of their favorite food, which can be very messy. Because of these, most people have invented ways to trap or keep them away from their property.\
They become attracted to unattended garbage, which mostly contains their favorite foods, such as insects and rodents. Furthermore, while foraging, they may also eat leftover and decaying food as they are very adaptable.
However, skunks become more of a threat to humans when food is not found in garbage. They can go a step further and target BBQ grills and compost piles. If skunks frequent your home in search of food, they will probably return several times.
As routine animals, once they locate a stable food source on your property, they will come more often, especially during the winter when food is scarce and hunting around is common. Their destructive habits and disagreeable odor have made them one of the most disliked animals by humans.
You will easily know when skirmishes appear in your yard. They leave a foul odor and leave holes about 3-4 inches wide in your lawn.
These creatures have extreme digging habits which they use in search of insects. If they decide to make a burrow under your house, they can damage your home’s foundation.
Other signs to look for in your farm include damaged corn, missing eggs or chicken and skunk tracks, imprinted with five toes on each foot, in poultry houses. However, the odor will be most prominent as the spray has a range of up to 10 feet, and the odor travels approximately 1.5 miles.
domestication of skunks
Skunks are usually wild animals. However, if the laws in your state allow it, you can keep it as a pet. Pet fringes are permitted in most states of the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, the Netherlands, and Italy.
In addition to the legal issues, taking a skunk from the wild to keep as a pet puts you and your family at risk of contracting harmful parasites and rabies. If you are considering keeping one as a pet, contact a reputable breeder or rescue center instead. Also, have them neutered or spayed.
Before bringing a skunk into your home, research dietary recommendations, necessary vaccines and other care items this animal will need. Finding a vet who specializes in these exotic animals can be challenging; Therefore, you will need to be thorough in your research.
In the wild, skunks eat everything and sometimes a lot. Because of this, their food demands are primarily high-calorie diets. However, since they are prone to obesity, you should feed your pet skunk a low-fat diet. In addition, this diet is suitable because their energy requirements are low.
Skunks need a mix of fruits, vegetables, carbohydrates, and proteins. In a day, you can feed them twice and include all the nutrients in one meal.
Kids under four months of age need to eat as much as puppies and need to be fed four times a day. They also need a balance of all the essential nutrients to help them grow.
A varied healthy diet should include:
As pets, protein should make up about 60-70% of your skunk’s diet. Foods that can be sources of protein include meat, dairy products, raw chicken, marrow bone, canned salmon, sardines and cheese. You can also include raw or cooked eggs.
Skunks love insects, and so, if you can get hold of crickets, worms, mice or cockroaches, these can supplement their diet. Seeds like almonds, pumpkin and sunflower are also high in protein and fat.
In the daily diet of your pet, vegetables should make up 30-40% of the diet. You can choose from a variety of vegetables, from tomatoes to broccoli, bell peppers, cauliflower, red cabbage, spinach, kale, lettuce, zucchini, carrots, eggplant, and cucumbers, among others. They can be served both raw or frozen.
Your skunk will also happily eat cooked foods like sweet potatoes, potatoes, yams and butternut squash. These foods should be thoroughly cooked and served several times a month.
Despite their healthiness, don’t feed your pet a skunk vegetables-heavy diet; Otherwise, they will lose bone mass. Supplement these foods with plenty of protein and vitamins.
Skunks love berries; Therefore, it is safe to offer your pet blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries. You can also include bananas, cantaloupe, apples and pears for balance.
A good diet for your pet also includes a mix of vitamins and minerals. Your vet can recommend supplements to add to the diet. Essential nutrients your pet needs include calcium and vitamin D for bone development.
Skunks are susceptible to bone issues and arthritis; Therefore, you can add a calcium supplement on top of raw chicken and cheese. If you have a low protein diet, you can add a taurine supplement to aid in building muscle.
what not to feed them
Once you have got a pet skunk, there are certain foods that you should avoid feeding them in order to keep them healthy and within the right weight.
cat and dog food
Commercial cat and dog food has a high fat and very high protein content that may be too much for your pet. These foods should be used as a last resort when your skunk won’t take any other food.
Avoid feeding your skunk fried foods, potato chips, chocolate, sweets and other processed foods that are high in sugar and fat. Poor diet and lack of exercise will cause your pet skunk to put on weight in no time.
Are There Any Commercial Skunk Foods?
Yes, there are many commercial foods for skunks. These commercial foods have to be ordered directly from the manufacturer online.
They also make nutritional supplements and canned insects to provide protein for your skunk. However, if you can make the food yourself, it’s much more manageable.
What are the health issues related to nutrition?
The average lifespan of a healthy skunk is about 5 years as a pet and about 5–10 years in the wild. However, if skunks are not getting the proper nutrients, they are prone to health conditions such as obesity. It mostly affects the fur of pets that have little physical activity.
Along with weight issues, they may also be prone to diabetes, kidney disease and cancer, which affects their quality of life and shortens their life cycle.
Skunks are easy feeders. As omnivores, they can eat both plant and animal material. Wild people have a negative relationship with humans.
They are known to scavenge through garbage and trash cans in search of food, leaving a mess in the yard and an unpleasant odor.
On the other hand, some have been domesticated and are kept as pets. Their diet needs to include a balanced diet to keep them healthy. However, there is still a lot of information to be researched on how you can best care for a skunk in your home.