Are There animals that eat skunks? Well, 11 Animals that usually prey on skunks are mostly birds like hawks and big owls. However, there are few other animals that eat skunks that include coyotes, wolves, foxes, etc. We will discuss this further in detail.
Firstly let us have a look at some basic information about the skunks.
What are skunks?
- Skunks are black and white striped animals with a lot of furs. Moreover, they have a unique self-defence mechanism.
- Skunks come from the Mephitidae family of mammals. Also, they are close relatives of mammals like stink badgers, weasels, and polecats.
- They are primarily found in South America, the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
- Their habitat consists of deserts and mountains although they ignore thick forests.
- These are omnivores and prey on larvae, plants, and insects.
- Skunks are nocturnal and go out for prey at night.
- They are so powerful that they can target the prey from 10 ft away and cause temporary irritation and blindness.
- Moreover, this bad smell can be easily detected by humans.
- Skunks mate in spring and give birth in May.
- Baby skunks are called kits.
- Female skunks have 2-10 kits at a time.
- They live for 7 to 10 years
11 Animals that eat skunks
Hawks: Hunts and Eat Skunks
Hawks are capable of spotting prey from a distance. However, it totally depends on the size of the skunk. A skunk can grow up to 19 inches which are similar to a domestic cat. Therefore, a hawk can easily spot them.
It looks for other prey like rabbits and rodents that would not attack them as skunks do. However, if hawks are able to strike quickly, the skunk will be helpless. This helps the hawk to kill skunks. However, if there is a larger skunk, then hawks need to find a better plan to execute.
Eagles: Hunts and Eat Skunks
Skunks are vulnerable to attacks from above. Because they cannot see the air above, they cannot release the smell on time.
Moreover, eagles are top predators from above. Also, they are at the top of the food chain. This means that they do not have natural predators. Additionally, they have very good eyesight. They can see a skunk from around 3 miles away.
Their eyesight lets them catch skunks so quickly that they have no time to release their stinky fluid. Then, the eagle kills the animal on the spot and starts eating.
Owls: Hunts and Eat Skunks
These are night predators. Owls always look for rodents and smaller mammals using their strong eyesight. Moreover, they are good at concealing themselves. However, larger owls can make loud noises before catching the prey.
With skunks, owls have to pick a different strategy. Also, they stay a bit silent in this case. This eliminates every chance for skunks to protect themselves. Owls always hunt at night, which is when skunks mostly come out and more freely.
Bigger owls target bigger skunks that will not attack them back. Moreover, the owl uses its powerful claws to do the damage.
Wolves: Hunts and Eat Skunks
Wolves prey in groups, especially when they go for larger prey. However, for catching smaller prey, a single wolf can do well. Wolves have great hunting capabilities and stronger senses than skunks. They can easily smell the pungent smell of skunks and find out the way to reach the prey.
Coyotes: Hunts and Eat Skunks
These are more stealthy than wolves. They have hunting mechanisms similar to a fox. However, they travel in packs when the condition arises. This helps to hunt down larger prey.
If coyotes are successful in hiding from skunks, they can easily hunt and kill them in a single go. However, they mostly focus on other prey and only go for skunks if they do not have any other option left.
Some Dogs: Hunts and Eat Skunks
Dogs can easily kill and eat a skunk. However, they avoid doing this. Some canine breeds that are predator-type of breeds can kill the animal. But, if the skunk is in its attacking mode, then a canine will run away due to the bad smell of the skunk.
Cougars: Hunts and Eat Skunks
Cougars are the only extant members of the Puma genus. They are also known as Catamount, Mountain lion, and Panther. These animals are 4th largest felids globally.
They have slender bodies with skin color between tan and faded brown. Moreover, they are less muscular than Jaguars. Males are heavier than females. Despite the big size, Cougars are not classified as big cats because of their inability to roar.
Cougars feed on large mammals like deer. However, they also prey on beavers, hares, marmots, raccoons, skunks, mice, sheep, pigs, and porcupines.
Civets: Hunts and Eat Skunks
Civet indicates various carnivorous mammals from Asia and Africa that belong to the family Viverridae. However, the main species are African CIvets. Their bodies are covered with wiry, coarse fur of a colour between creamy yellow and red.
These animals have a mixed diet that includes toads, insects, bird eggs, cane rats, mice, common agamas, and skunks.
American Badgers: Hunts and Eat Skunks
American badgers are found in eastern, central, and western parts of the US. You can see them in prairie and grassland regions. These animals usually prey on woodrats, deer mice, moles, ground squirrels, pocket gophers, marmots, and prairie dogs.
Additionally, they also prey on skunks, lizards, rattlesnakes, fish, insects, burrowing owls, and amphibians.
Bobcats: Hunts and Eat Skunks
Bobcats are named after their bobbed tails. They are a feline species from North America. Moreover, they are commonly hunted for their fur. Bobcats belong to the Lynx genus.
These cats are great climbers, and swimmers, and have a good sense of smell, sharp vision and hearing. All these capabilities make Bobcats great nocturnal hunters.
They primarily prey on voles, fish, muskrats, ducks, hares, birds, squirrels, and rabbits. Talking about large mammals, they feed on skunks, raccoons, minks, foxes, and martens.
Red Foxes: Hunts and Eat Skunks
Red foxes are the largest members of the fox genus. Moreover, they are the most widespread fox species. You can find them across North Africa, Asia, North America, and Europe. Also, they are among the list of World’s 100 worst invasive species.
They are omnivores and their diet includes skunks, insects, raccoons, rodents, and porcupines.
How Does a Skunk Protect Itself?
Skunks are good at protecting themselves against any predator. They use different mechanisms as protection against the threat but their main weapon is the smell.
A single spray can be very strong and long-lasting. This leaves a bad smell in the area for several minutes. Moreover, this spray contains thiols, an organic compound.
This allows the smell to get mixed with the air and stay there for days. Moreover, the smell can come after skunking. This is because of the presence of thioacetate.
This is the only reason why the skunk smell stays even after a day. This gives protection to the skunks. However, it can also make them vulnerable as they can be found by sniffing.
Frequently asked questions
In the wild, we believe that skunks live for 2 to 4 years. One of the most common reasons for their death is automobiles. Skunks get killed mostly in road accidents. However, there are other diseases like distemper and rabies that kill skunks.
When you breathe a skunk smell, you may suffer from burning, tearing, redness, and short-term stinging. It can be difficult to open your eyes for some moments. Moreover, inhaling it can also irritate the lungs. The smell can worsen asthma symptoms. However, this is very rare.
If a skunk sprays a dog in the eyes, it may cause vomiting or nausea, in some rare cases, it results in severe anaemia and acts like tear gas. If your canine faces the same problem, rush to the vet immediately and get the desired treatment done.
Skunks are non-aggressive and peace-loving animals. Moreover, they are also nearsighted. They only spray when they are frightened. Even they give you time to back off before spraying.
Skunks are good critters. They eat various garden pests like voles, mice, crickets, wasps, beetles, larvae, etc. Additionally, they are scavengers. They seek out animal carcasses. This helps you keep the ecosystem free of carrion.