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What Do Skunks Eat? Wild Vs. Pet Skunks Diet

From cartoons to zoos or TV, everybody has seen skunks. These animals are easy to identify due to the fur’s characteristics, specifically the black and white stripings. Although their appearance is adorable and funny, the unpleasant spray the skunks produce is hardly bearable.

Not many people can say that they felt the nasty smell of a skunk? However, the ones who did most probably still remember that odor. “The scent” is hardly forgettable due to the overpowering stench that the anal glands are producing. No wonder people or animals tend to run away when they see a skunk getting close to them.

As reputation goes, these wild creatures are not very popular due to their scavenging around the human neighborhoods.

However, starting with the 20th century, people started to raise skunks as pets.

But why turn a skunk into a pet? Well, because skunks are pretty sensitive and intelligent creatures that can easily steal people’s hearts due to their playful nature. All good in that department, but what do skunks normally eat? How to feed wild skunks so they stay healthy and energetic?

Considering skunks are omnivore animals, they won’t be that picky for their favorite food. So let’s take some time to better understand the skunk’s background and what types of food are part of their primary diet.

Skunks Habitat

Skunks will quickly adapt to different habitats that provide them food and shelter. However, these animals will mostly prefer to live close to a water source.

Skunks are crepuscular and solitary animals, and they live in hollowed-out logs, maybe some tree hollows, underneath porches or animal burrows. When they cannot find a suitable shelter, they will start digging their burrows.

What Do Skunks Usually Eat?

Skunks are omnivorous animals, so they can adapt their diet based on the food they find according to each season. While during summer, skunks will go for some easy food that consists of small prey and insects, during the colder months, they might have issues accessing these natural sources. So, during winter, if you live near a skunk habitat, you should expect skunks to invade your trash cans and scavenge your garbage.

What is extremely fascinating is that these animals are smart enough to make a cold-season backup. They literally make back-ups by eating a lot of food during summer. These enormous ingested quantities of food will help skunks sustain themselves during the winter.

According to their habitat’s size, skunks can only attract smaller animals. But when they cannot find animal prey, they will fight to survive by eating plants, and, in a worst-case scenario, they will scavenge through garbage.

Wild Skunks’ Diet

With all this said, let’s check out exactly what you should expect to find in a skunk diet.

Insects and Small Animals

So, as mentioned, skunks are omnivorous. This means that they will eat whatever they manage to find.

However, during warm months, they would prefer animal materials, such as bees, insects, beetle larvae, crickets, or wasps. Aside from the previous insects, skunks’ other essential protein intake comes from animals like caterpillars, rabbits, grubs, birds, or small snakes.

Plants

It is crystal clear that skunks prefer eating animals over plants. However, it all depends on the season. Plant material can be the only natural food skunks can find during wintertime.

Cold months come with fewer food sources for these animals. Because of this, skunks do not have any option, so they need to eat only fruits and roots they find on the ground. Skunks will permanently forage for food, especially during the night; this is why they are famous for their scavenging habits.

Most of the plant materials that skunks prefer include blueberries, carrion, roots, fungi, nuts, grasses, cherries, or leaves.

What Do Skunks Eat-In Urban Areas?

Very often, skunks leave behind their wild areas and get closer to the urban settlements. This mostly happens when they find themselves in extreme cases. Unfortunately, these animals can invade homes and feed with any food they see in the garbage or human gardens.

Now, the bad part is that the skunks’ invasions usually lead to massive garden damage. Skunks will “work” through the food wastes until they find something interesting to eat, which can be a messy activity. Considering all the mess they can provoke, most people will find different methods to keep skunks away from their yards or general properties.

So, when it comes to urban skunks’ “diet,” these animals will be attracted mostly by unattended garbage, where they can find most of their favorite foods. If the trash contains rodents or insects, they are even happier. Due to their adaptability, skunks will be more than satisfied with leftovers and rotting food.

However, if they can’t reach the food they want, skunks can provoke even more damage than a scattered garbage bin. They can go even further with their plan and target the juicy BBQ grills or compost piles. Furthermore, skunks will apply their destructive habits and open doors or ruin the garbage space.

The bad news is that if the skunk gets used to ‘dining out’ at your place, then expect it to come back over and over again. This is especially true for the wintertime, when they cannot find so much food around.

And trust me, you will immediately know if skunks have visited you, as they like to leave behind their ‘trade marks’, such as holes and foul odors.

Another thing you should know is since they are great diggers, they don’t take this approach gently. These animals are rough, and they can damage even the house foundation if they decide to make their burrow right underneath your home.

Of course, not all skunks will dig your yard or leave their smell in the air. But there are other signs you could spot that could suggest a skunk’s appearance. For instance, if you raise chickens, you can be sure that the skunk will try to steal some eggs from their nest.

How Do Skunks Look For Food?

Skunks have an empathetic sense of smell and hearing due to their intense nocturnal nature. Although they can hear and smell even from far distances, skunks cannot rely on their eyes to hunt or forage for food.

So, due to the limited vision, the animals will only react to changes in lighting and moving objects. Using their delicate nose, skunks will track down all the smelly foods, just like garbage, honey, fruits, or small prey. Along with their sharp smell, skunks will also use their hearing sense to track even the tiniest target nearby.

Skunks have powerful forearms and strong claws that help them dig for insects and build their ground shelters. To stay safe or hunt their prey, skunks will use their ability to run fast. They can even reach 10 miles per hour. However, skunks are kind of lazy, so they will rarely use their running ability to catch their prey. They prefer to stay still and attack when the prey is unaware.

How To Feed Pet Skunks

Although their odors are not that pleasing, some people love the idea of keeping a skunk as their favorite pet.

But before bringing this animal into your home, it would be wise to check their diet recommendations, as well as the vaccines they should receive. While it can be challenging to have a vet specializing in exotic animals somewhere around your area, try to search for one just to be safe.

As you already know, skunks always manage to find something to eat when they live in the wild. However, when they become part of your official family, you need to take care of their meals. Usually, skunks have a high-caloric diet. This means they are prone to obesity. Considering this aspect, you need to take extra care of what you feed them with.

If you think about feeding a skunk, their primary diet should consist of mixes of fruits, nuts, vegetables, protein, and carbohydrates. Skunks generally do well if they eat proteins like chicken or fish and a constant mix of cooked grains, fruits, and vegetables. The last ones can even consist of leafy greens. Furthermore, another plentiful aliment for skunks is carrots.

Do Not Feed Skunks With The Following:

Skunk pets can have two meals a day, or you can include all the nutrients they need in just one meal. On the other hand, baby skunks will need to eat around four times a day, just like puppies. The primary concern should be offering them all the necessary nutrients.

Do Not Feed Skunks With The Following:

  • Leaves of iceberg lettuce
  • Cat food (neither canned or dry) because it is high in protein and fat
  • Sweets
  • Fried foods
  • Chocolate
  • Lunchmeat (salami, sausage, cold meats)

Last Thoughts

Skunks do not have a peculiar diet, but they need to seek the ideal nutrients to survive, especially during the winter months. Since the skunks do not hibernate, they will always look for food from different sources.

Their diet consists of 75% proteins and 25% vegetables. Although they can produce a mess in the gardens, people should consider skunks as their allies because skunks can help us get rid of mice, rats, crickets, beetles, even moles throughout the growing season.

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