What Do Skunks Eat? A Complete List
Skunks are well known for spraying their enemies in self-defense and startle them with the incredibly foul smell. However, they aren’t very equipped at hunting other animals for food, so they eat whatever they can get their hands on.
You may find them in your backyard during the spring season looking for something to eat. If the question “what do skunks eat?” is on your mind, here’s some information about the typical diet of a skunk.
What Do Skunks Eat?
Skunks are omnivores. While they do have a liking for meat, they do not mind settling for plant-based food to sustain themselves.
In fact, they’re quite the little helpers to human beings because they prey on pests and creatures that are dangerous or harmful to human life. Since they’re already quite small, they tend to prey on tinier animals.
Skunks prefer to prey on animals that don’t pose any challenge to them such as insects, rodents, and even the larvae or eggs of these creatures. Here is a list of small prey that skunks usually target for their meal.
Did you know that skunks are immune to snake venom? They are completely unaffected even by venom 100% times the amount necessary to kill a household pet.
This means that skunks can easily devour young snakes, even poisonous ones that defend themselves by biting their attackers. Skunks especially eat rattlesnakes.
It may be surprising that there are natural predators in the environment that prefer eating cockroaches.
Skunks are highly useful in getting rid of unwanted and harmful pests from your backyard and other places. When a skunk finds a cockroach-infested place, they can easily clear it up.
Pests like grasshoppers can often crop up during the summer and spring. Skunks enthusiastically target grasshoppers as their food sources during these seasons.
Crickets are notorious for damaging paper, fur, fabric, leather, rubber, and wood. They even carry diseases like E-coli and salmonella, which are extremely harmful to human health.
Skunks act as natural exterminators of crickets. If you live in a place where there is a high cricket population, skunks can change that quite easily.
Beetles and their larvae are an essential component of a skunk’s diet during summer and fall.
You will find holes dug into your lawn when skunks target grubs. Grubs (especially the Japanese beetle) feast on the roots of plants like roses, raspberries, and hydrangeas, thus damaging the plant itself. Even the strongest of insecticides cannot stop them flying into the neighborhood, but skunks do us a favor by feasting on these beetles.
#6. Spiders — Even The Black Widow Spider
Black widow spiders are the most venomous spider in North America. If you’re bitten by the female black widow, you will experience incredible chest and abdominal pain.
While spiders are the usual targets of skunks when they’re foraging for food, they will also not hesitate to go after this deadly spider.
Skunks don’t really dive into a lake or river to catch fish, but they certainly don’t mind feasting on fish if it was outside of water and available on land.
If you own a koi pond, you may want to secure this enclosure as skunks, raccoons, and herons can easily steal koi. All of the aquatic life in a pond, including pond plants and insects, is fair game to a skunk.
Sometimes, scorpions can find their way into human habitats. This can be quite terrifying as a scorpion sting is fatal to you and your house pets as well.
Interestingly, they are also one of the harmful pests that skunks eat during the summer.
While skunks don’t usually go for adult rabbits, they have no qualms about finding rabbit nests and eating the babies to sustain themselves.
Diets Of Skunks in Different Seasons
Skunks thrive in warm weather. They will explore and forage for food during the spring and summer with ease, given that insects and other little animals would be out and about as well.
However, the winters are particularly harsh on skunks. They tend to remain underground inside their dens, and their activity levels decrease drastically. The duration of this dormancy can range from four to five months. As there isn’t much thriving wildlife outside, they have to rely on plants or search for food in unattended trash cans.
Skunks Eat Garbage
They’re trash pandas, just like raccoons. You’ll find skunks often engaging in dumpster-diving, trying to find something edible.
If you’ve got an uncovered compost pit or a pile of trash in your backyard, there’s a good chance that you’d be attracting skunks. You know what they say: one man’s unattended trash bin, another skunk’s treasure!
This behavior of theirs is another reason humans aren’t too fond of skunks, as these animals are a little too comfortable being around pungent odors and unclean areas.
Skunks Diet in Urban Environments
They’re quite the home invaders when looking for a meal. In urban environments, skunks have no choice but to sneak into yards and homes in order to access food.
This involves feeding on your kitchen waste and on decaying or dying plants. Remember to lock all of your doors and windows properly if you’ve identified raccoons near your place. It does not help that skunks can make a habit out of visiting the same place if it has food available.
They definitely fare better in the wild as opposed to being stuck in highly populated areas. You usually wouldn’t catch them during the day, as skunks prefer to stay away from humans at all costs. They hide and come out only in the night looking for sustenance.
Skunks Eat Plants
Plants aren’t the first option that skunks prefer for their meals. It is mostly an alternative in case they aren’t able to find animal prey or if there isn’t enough food available during the winter.
A plant-based diet will adequately sustain them as well, given that skunks are good foragers. They usually just eat food that has fallen on the ground as they prefer convenience and accessibility.
Their herbivorous diet would include items like cherries, grapes, berries, nuts, roots, stems, corn, seeds, etc. Even rotten fruits and plants that humans don’t consume or care much for are viable options for skunks.
Talk about adaptability!
A Few Parting Words
So, there you have it — answers to the question “what do skunks eat?”
Skunks are quite helpful creatures in eliminating unwanted wildlife in your backyard and environment. However, do not ever get close to a skunk, and make sure you restrain your pet if you’re in the vicinity of a skunk as they are rabid and carry several diseases.