What Do Skunks Eat? The Ultimate List of What Skunks Eat

What are the different types of skunks?

There are four types of skunks found in North America, which are the striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis), hooded skunk (Mephitis macroura), hog-nosed skunk (Conepatus leuconotus), and spotted skunk (Spilogale putorius).

The most common skunk is the striped skunk. It has a black body with prominent white stripes running down its back and is generally the same size as a house cat, weighing up to 10 pounds.

The hooded skunk has a black fur coat with a white stripe running from the back of its head to its tail and is slightly smaller in size than the striped skunk. The hog-nosed skunk is the largest of the four, with a black fur coat and white stripes running up the sides of the body.

The spotted skunk is the smallest of the four and has white spots as well as broken white stripes amid its black fur. All skunks are solitary creatures except for the breeding season and winter when females den together.

What do skunks eat?

  1. Skunks eat meat

Skunks are omnivores and have a diet that consists of both plant and animal matter, including meat.

They are known to eat small animals such as rodents, birds, amphibians, and insects, as well as eggs, poultry, worms, and honey. During the winter months, when prey is scarce, they will feed on edible leaves, grasses, roots, fruits, nuts, and garbage. Skunks also enjoy eating fish, such as sardines and ground-nesting birds.

  1. Skunks eat vegetables

They will eat almost any edible plant they can find, such as nuts, seeds, fruits, leaves, roots, and some fungi and grasses.

Common vegetables that skunks enjoy include broccoli, bell peppers, cauliflower, red cabbage, spinach, kale, lettuce, zucchini, carrots, eggplants, cucumbers, and tomatoes. These can be served either raw or frozen. Skunks can also enjoy cooked vegetables such as sweet potatoes, potatoes, yams, and butternut squash, but these should only be served a few times a month.

  1. Skunks eat fruits

Fruits are an important part of the skunk diet, especially during colder months when their usual food sources are not as plentiful. Skunks will eat various fruits such as blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, corn, melon, chokeberry, elderberry, mountain ash, wild grape, and cranberry.

In addition, they may also eat nuts and seeds like walnuts, pecans, and hickory nuts, as well as sunflower seeds or bird seeds.

  1. Skunks eat grains

While they prefer a diet of animal matter, they can adapt to a plant-based diet when necessary.

Skunks feed on a variety of plant materials, including nutritious grasses, seeds, berries, plant roots, mushrooms, edible leaves, corn, grapes, chilies, nuts, and dead plant matter.

Skunks will also eat grains such as wheat, oats, barley, and rice if they are available.

  1. Skunks eat insects

They enjoy eating insects such as beetles, crickets, grasshoppers, caterpillars, and bees, as well as larvae and grubs. Skunks also eat small mammals, birds, eggs, poultry, reptiles, amphibians, and fish. They can also be attracted to honey and other foods with a strong odor.

  1. Skunks eat baby skunks

Step 1: Most female skunks give birth between April and June, and their babies, or kits, are born blind and deaf.

Step 2: Baby skunks can’t eat solid foods for the first 6 weeks and must rely on their mother’s milk for nutrition.

Step 3: Around 6 weeks, baby skunks will start to leave the den and eat solid food.

Step 4: Baby skunks eat the same things as adult skunks, including insects, fruits, and vegetables.

Step 5: Skunks are opportunistic feeders and will adjust their diet based on what is available to them.

Step 6: Skunks will groom themselves regularly and even use their tails to swat away insects.

Step 7: Skunks are omnivores and eat a wide variety of foods, including nuts, fruits, leaves, roots, some fungi, grass, and insects.

Step 8: Baby skunks will also eat larvae, earthworms, and grubs and may even try to get honey from bees.

  1. Skunks eat table scraps

Skunks will eat just about anything they can find, including small mammals such as mice, rats, ground squirrels, and chipmunks; fish; small birds and their eggs; small amphibians such as frogs and salamanders; reptiles like small snakes and lizards; garbage and trash; insects; honey; nuts; seeds; vegetables; fruit; worms; and carrion.

They may also eat pet food that is left out, grasses, leaves, and fungi, if no other food sources are available. In the summer, skunks enjoy eating a variety of insects, such as beetles, crickets, grasshoppers, and caterpillars, as well as fruits and vegetables like blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, corn, and melon.

When food is scarce, skunks may raid garbage and trash cans in search of a meal and will even resort to eating dirt if pushed to the brink of starvation.

  1. Skunks eat mice and rats

Skunks are opportunistic feeders, meaning they will eat a variety of different things, ranging from fruits and insects to small animals such as rodents and birds. They also feed upon ground-nesting birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians. S

skunks are not known to directly combat and kill other animals and instead rely on creatures that are smaller in size and easier to catch. Additionally, skunks are beneficial to humans because they feed on pests such as snakes, roaches, spiders, and scorpions, of which up to 70% of the skunk diet typically consists.

  1. Skunks eat bees and insects

As you’ve read, they have a wide variety of dietary options, including nuts, fruits, leaves, roots, fungi, grass, bees, wasps, larvae, earthworms, grubs, bird eggs, small mammals, salamanders, lizards, frogs, snakes, fish, insects, beetles, crickets, grasshoppers, caterpillars, berries, and melon.

Skunks are also known to be the primary predators of honeybees, and they are able to coax them out of their nests.

Apart from insects, skunks also prey on small creatures such as snakes, cockroaches, mice, voles, moles, shrews, ground-nesting birds, small reptiles, small amphibians, and water snakes.

Thus, skunks are beneficial in many ways as they help to get rid of destructive insects around the home and yard.

Best places to look for skunk food

The best places to look for skunk food are areas near the den entrances, along trails, inside of and under buildings used by skunks, and areas where domestic birds are being bothered.

During the colder months, skunks forage for food at night and can be found eating edible leaves, nutritious grasses, berries, mushrooms, corn, grapes, chilies, nuts, seeds, plant roots, and dead plant matter.

In summer, skunks prioritize high-fat, calorie-rich foods such as fatty fish, small mammals, small birds and their eggs, lizards, salamanders, frogs, snakes, and insects, particularly larvae, worms, grubs, and beetles. They will also attack honeybee hives for the sweet honey.

Tips on avoiding getting sprayed by a skunk

  1. Never get too close to a skunk

The best distance to keep from a skunk is at least 10 feet away. This is because skunks can spray if they feel threatened, and the spray can travel up to 10 feet away.

An example of this is when a fox was trying to approach a striped skunk in a park in Montreal, Canada. The skunk nonchalantly emitted a whiff to warn off the fox, who immediately took the hint and kept their distance.

  1. Do not try to touch or pet a skunk

If you come across a skunk, the best course of action is to leave it alone. Skunks are generally harmless animals, but if they feel threatened, they can spray, so it’s best to give them their space and not bother them.

Step-by-step instructions:

  1. Remain calm and try to keep your distance from the skunk.
  2. Slowly back away and give the skunk plenty of space.
  3. Avoid startling it or making any sudden movements.
  4. Keep in mind that skunks can spray up to 10 feet away, so it’s best not to get too close.
  5. Once you have safely backed away, it’s best to move away from the area.
  6. Enjoy watching the skunk from a distance, but remember to always respect its space.
  1. Do not bother a skunk while it is eating

It is important not to bother a skunk while it is eating because they are generally harmless animals, but they may spray if they feel threatened. Skunks are important creatures in the ecosystem, and they play an important role in keeping the population of other animals in check.

Moreover, skunks are not equipped for combat and killing, so they prey on creatures much smaller than them, meaning they rely on foraging for their food. If a skunk is disturbed or threatened while they are trying to feed, it may be unable to find food elsewhere and could ultimately become malnourished.

Therefore, it is important to give skunks their space and not interfere with their feeding in order to maintain a healthy balance in the ecosystem.

  1. Do not try to remove a skunk from its home

If you bump into a skunk in your yard, the best thing to do is to leave the animal alone and not disturb it. Skunks are typically harmless animals, and they will usually move on when they find a new place to live. It is important not to try to shoo the skunk away, as this may cause the skunk to spray you or your property.

To prevent skunks from nesting on your property, it is important to remove any attractants that may be drawing them in. Make sure all garbage cans have tight-fitting lids, and that pet food is stored indoors before sunset. Also, trim any overgrown shrubbery and keep your yard free from debris such as wood and rocks, which may attract insects and act as a food source for skunks.

They have the expertise needed to humanely remove the skunk without getting sprayed. Additionally, you may want to consider installing a one-way door at the entrance of the den, as well as mild harassment techniques such as ammonia-soaked rags or mothballs.

  1. Make sure your pets are not bothering the skunk

  1. Keep pets away from skunk den sites such as wood and rock piles, overgrown shrubbery, and any other areas where skunks may hide.
  2. Move pet food inside before sunset to avoid attracting skunks.
  3. Make sure all garbage cans have tight-fitting lids to prevent skunks from accessing pet food.
  4. Install one-way doors at the entrance of skunk dens to prevent them from entering.
  5. If a skunk is living under your deck or porch, leave it alone, and do not attempt to shoo it away, as it may spray.
  6. Place ammonia-soaked rags or mothballs near skunk burrows or entryways to repel them.
  7. Utilize a good rodent control program to discourage skunks from coming to the area.
  8. Avoid feeding your pets fried, processed, or sugary foods to prevent the skunk from being attracted to them.
  1. Make sure your yard is not attracting skunks

  1. Make sure all garbage cans have tight-fitting lids, and that pet food is moved indoors before sunset.
  2. Trim overgrown shrubbery and keep your yard clear of debris, including wood and rocks.
  3. Treat your lawn with milky spore disease or beneficial nematodes to get rid of grubs.
  4. Fence off small areas, such as a garden patch.
  5. Seal off areas underneath decks and sheds with chicken wire, leaving at least one foot of additional wire on the ground extending from the structure.
  6. Plant tall varieties of corn to minimize damage from skunks.
  7. If you suspect skunks in your yard, contact Critter Control for assistance.
  1. Make sure you do not have any skunk food sources in your yard

Step 1: Make sure all garbage cans have tight-fitting lids, and pet food placed outdoors should be moved inside before sunset.

Step 2: Trim overgrown shrubbery and keep your yard clear of debris, including wood and rocks, that attract insects to your yard.

Step 3: Seal any structures, such as sheds or decks, with chicken wire and leave at least one foot of additional wire on the ground extending from the structure to prevent skunks from digging under to enter.

Step 4: Spray your lawn with milky spore disease or beneficial nematodes to get rid of grubs, which are a favorite snack of skunks.

Step 5: Contact your local Cooperative Extension Service for suggestions on how to prevent skunks from nesting on your property.

  1. Skunks are most likely to spray when they feel threatened

When a skunk perceives a threat or annoyance, it is prompted to spray its anal glands in order to deter the aggressor.

This potent chemical weapon is powerful enough to douse a target more than 10 feet away and can cause gagging, pain to sensitive membranes, or even temporary blindness if it is aimed directly at an enemy’s face.

This defensive tactic is usually enough to convince predators to stay away, and skunks have become nearly predator-proof as a result.

  1. Never spray a skunk without first trying to scare it away

If you or someone else is sprayed by a skunk, the first step is to get away from the area. Make sure to stay downwind from the skunk, as the smell of the spray is very strong and can be overwhelming.

Next, you will want to find a way to neutralize the smell. Vinegar is one of the most effective ways to do so. Mix one part white vinegar with one part water and use it to wash the skin or clothing that has been sprayed. If you are unable to find vinegar, a mixture of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and dishwashing liquid can also help to neutralize the smell.

Once the area or clothing has been washed, rinse it off with cool water. You may need to repeat this process several times to remove the smell completely.

Finally, it is important to take any clothing that has been sprayed and wash it separately in a washing machine. Make sure to use a strong detergent and wash the clothing on its own. Once the clothing has been washed and dried, the smell should be gone.

  1. Skunks are most likely to spray at a distance of between 12-18 inches

Skunks are most likely to spray when they perceive a threat from a distance of 10 to 12 feet.


What do skunks typically eat?

Skunks are omnivorous animals, meaning they can eat both plants and animals. Their diet consists of a variety of insects, such as beetles, crickets, grasshoppers, and caterpillars.

They also enjoy eating various fruits and vegetables, including blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, corn, and melon. Small mammals, such as mice, rats, ground squirrels, and chipmunks, as well as eggs, amphibians, reptiles, fish, honey, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and carrion, also make up part of their diet.

Skunks will also scavenge for pet food, garbage, and trash. In the wild, skunks will usually prioritize eating high-fat, calorie-rich foods, such as insects and small mammals, when possible.

What is the skunk’s diet?

Skunks are omnivores and feed on both plants and animals. A typical skunk diet consists of plants, eggs, small mammals (such as rodents and moles), fish, worms, reptiles, fruits, turtles, and insects (such as bees). During the spring and summer, a skunk’s diet will mostly consist of grasshoppers, bees, beetles, beetle larvae, and crickets.

During the fall and winter, when food is scarce, skunks will scavenge for fruit, nuts, bird seed, and pet food, as well as small mammals, including mice, rats, rabbits, and chicken eggs.

Additionally, skunks may also eat corn, blackberries, blueberries, other wild berries, seeds, nuts, and plant parts on the ground. Skunks will also eat garbage and trash if they live in close contact with humans.

What type of prey do skunks hunt?

Skunks are opportunistic feeders, meaning they do not have a particular type of prey they hunt. They will eat a variety of small animals, such as field mice, voles, rabbits, ground-nesting birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians like frogs.

They may also eat eggs or flightless young of ground-nesting birds. Skunks can also be scavengers and forage for food, such as fruits and crops that are rotting and not harvested by humans. Additionally, they may raid garbage cans for leftovers of their preferred foods.

Are skunks omnivores or carnivores?

Skunks are classified as omnivores, meaning they eat both plant and animal material. As scavengers, they adapt their diet based on seasons and availability.

As they do not have a proper mechanism to combat or attack animals and to prey on them, they tend to rely on foraging for food that they can eat to sustain themselves and their young, such as nuts and berries, insects and larvae, earthworms, grubs, small rodents, lizards, salamanders, frogs, snakes, birds, moles, and eggs.

They are able to hunt and kill animals larger than themselves, whereas skunks do not have the capacity to do so.

What do baby skunks eat?

Baby skunks are born blind and deaf and rely on their mother’s milk for nutrition for the first 6 weeks of their lives, during which time they will stay close to their mother.

After six weeks, they will begin to eat solid foods. Baby skunks typically eat the same things as adult skunks, such as insects, fruits, and vegetables, foraged and hunted foods, nuts, seeds, leaves, grains, eggs, and small mammals like mice, rats, ground squirrels, rabbits, snakes, and chipmunks.

Furthermore, they’ll consume a multitude of insects and arthropods, including spiders, grubs, snails, slugs, and worms, among others.

Do skunks eat garbage and other human food?

Yes, skunks do eat garbage and other human food. As omnivores, skunks are very adaptable and will eat a wide variety of things. They often target garbage and trash for their favorite food, as leftovers and rotting food from the garbage can make up a huge meal for them.

Additionally, they may also target pet food, bird feeders, compost piles, BBQ grills, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, worms, and carrion for food.

What do skunks do when they spray?

When skunks spray, they will typically stomp their feet, click their teeth, and raise their tails as a warning to their predators or competitors. Once the warning is not heeded, they will turn and spray their musk with both ends facing their target.

The spray can reach up to 20 feet with the help of wind, and the smell can be detected up to 1.5 miles away. Skunks can spray up to 5-6 times before needing to replenish their musk, which takes 8-10 days to do.

How do skunks defend themselves?

Skunks are masters of defense, using their powerful anal glands to emit an odorous musk to deter predators. Here is how skunks defend themselves:

  1. Non-verbal Threat: Skunks can use their body language as a warning sign to predators. When they feel threatened, they will hiss, growl, and raise their fur (known as “puffing up”). This is usually enough to warn a potential threat away.
  2. Spray Attack: If the non-verbal warning doesn’t work, skunks will use their infamous musk to create an unbearable smell. The musk is stored in special sacs called anal glands, which are located near the anus. Skunks have the ability to precisely control the flow and direction of their spray, giving them the advantage of targeting predators from up to 10 feet away.
  3. Use of Feces: When all else fails, skunks are known to spray their feces as a last resort. This tends to be a bit messier and is used when the skunk is feeling especially threatened.

These defensive strategies are an important part of a skunk’s survival in the wild. By mastering the use of their body language and chemical sprays, skunks are able to ward off predators and keep themselves safe.

What are some of the potential hazards of feeding skunks?

Some of the potential hazards of feeding skunks include bone marrow loss, allergic reactions, obesity, malnourishment, seizures, anemia, change in fur color, loss of hair, diabetes, and other health complications.

Feeding skunks heavy vegetable diets, cat and dog food, processed foods such as potato chips, sunflower seeds, sweets, lunch meats, hotdogs, asparagus, onions, raw nuts, some grains, chocolates, and other high-fat and high-sugar foods should be avoided. Skunks should have a well-balanced diet that consists of 60-70% proteins and 30-40% vegetables, minerals, and other essential supplements.

An unbalanced diet may lead to poor health and weight gain, which can make them more vulnerable to predators.

What foods should be avoided when feeding skunks?

To keep skunks healthy and within the right weight, certain foods should be avoided.

These include a heavy vegetable diet, cat and dog food, processed foods like potato chips and sweets, lunch meats such as bologna and salami, hotdogs, asparagus, onions, birdseed mix, raw nuts and grains, chocolates, and laxity of some food items in their diet.

Skunks should also not be fed commercial cat and dog food as it contains too much fat and protein.

Instead, the diet should include a healthy mixture of proteins, carbohydrates, vegetables, insects, fruits, minerals, and supplements. The diet should also be balanced with the correct proportion of protein, vegetables, carbohydrates, and minerals to keep the skunk healthy.