Out Wit Skunks

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Weasels, badgers, skunks, and otters: An entry from Thomson Gale's Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia by Serge Larivière, PhD

Skunk Diet

Striped Skunk’s diet, as well as all species of skunk, is varied. They are omnivores eating both plant and animal matter. As with most wild animals they are not too picky and will eat what’s abundant or nearby.

Skunk Diet-Food

Skunks will eat a great variety of foods. These can consist of various plant parts including leaves, shoots and buds, flowers and fruits. They partake in a plethora of grains and nuts, too.

On the heartier side of the skunk diet, skunks eat a wide variety of animal matter. The animal will consume small mammals including small mice, baby rats, and voles. Skunks will also eat small birds and bird eggs. To round off their diet skunks have even been known to feast on carrion, worms, small reptiles and fish, too! Yet, their favorite food is most definitely insects; especially grubs, beetles and grasshoppers.

Researchers have determined that insects make up approximately 70% of the skunk diet! They are not shy about getting to those insects either. They consider bee hives and ant colonies as dietary jackpots and will attack each at will eating the live insects as they exit their damaged homes.

Around the house skunks have been known to add garbage, pet food and birdseed to their diet. Not to mention your raspberries, corn and other vegetables from your garden!

Skunk Diet-Physical Attributes

All varieties of skunks have big feet; feet that are much bigger in proportion to the rest of their body. Each foot has very long claws which help the animal in digging in the dirt, perhaps in your yard and garden, to feast on the many grubs and other insects that make the soil their home.

Skunk Diet-Seasonal Variances

On the seasonal side the skunk diet varies only slightly and is based on availability. The quantities of food eaten do not vary much at all throughout the year; however, the types of food change slightly. The skunk diet will include many more insect buffets during the summer than any other season.

Skunk Diet-Benefits and Detriments to Humans and the Ecosystem

Skunks are almost always unwelcomed guests and this not entirely due to their odor. In their search for food, especially their most favorite meal, insects, they have a nasty habit of digging holes in carefully tended lawns and gardens. Golf course owners get particularly upset when skunks have come through during the night foraging for grubs and have left their pristine courses dotted with mounds of dirt and torn sod that has been rolled back during their search.

Skunks can also be present a potential problem when they take up residence under porches and decks or in buildings. Anyone who has been in a structure that has had skunks living under it can tell you that the smell is always present, or worse, if they get frightened and spray while they are under a deck or inside a building the odor can remain for a long, long time.

The diet of the skunk will lead them into gardens as well where they will dine on your carefully tended vegetables and fruits.

Their affinity for birds has many people upset. They have caused significant losses of ground nesting birds and aren’t afraid to venture into chicken coops to prey on poultry and eggs.

The Skunk Diet can be beneficial, too. They do keep a check on many animals considered to be pests to homeowners include mice, rats, voles, etc.


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