General Skunk Facts

Skunks are small mammals that are best known for their cute appearance and pungent smell. Their odor is quite unpleasant and can last for a long time, especially when s human or pet has been sprayed by these critters. These animals are one of the most easily recognized on North America, characterized by their white stripe that runs the length of the body and into the tail. While many people fear skunks, they are pretty harmless and tend to avoid any interactions with humans.

Even though people tend to shy away from skunks and have a fear for them, they can be very helpful animals. They are often seen on farms, but can also be spotted in neighborhoods across the US and Canada. They are known to rid pests and vermin, so they are beneficial in some ways. However, they can also cause some destruction. Skunks have long teeth and sharp claws, so they can wreak some havoc around the yard and home.

A skunk has a keen sense of smell and excellent hearing, but they lack in eye sight. IN fact, skunks are almost blind and only react to changes in lighting. This is why they are most commonly seen at dusk or dawn as they can only see things that are less than 10 feet away.

In regards to their eating habits, they are omnivores, so they will enjoy feasting on the following:

  • Insects
  • Grubs
  • Rodents
  • Moles
  • Eggs
  • Berries
  • Roots
  • Nuts
  • Human garbage

They do need a constant food supply and will forage for anything edible. In dense neighborhoods, skunks often cause problems by ripping open garbage backs to find something to eat if they are unable to find a natural source of food.

These animals are slow in nature and cannot run fast to escape predators, which is why they have the ability to spray. Their odor is their main defense and when they are cornered or threatened, they will first stomp the ground and make hissing noises to scare off the danger. If that does not work, they will release a spray, which comes after lifting the tail. Skunks do not spray objects that are behind them. Their spray actually goes over their head to the target in front of them. They often aim to spray in the eyes of the person or animal that is threatening, which will allow them time to escape and get to safety.

The ability to ward off animals from the spray is what keeps most skunks safe from being attacked by other animals. Wolves, badgers and foxes will rarely attack a skunk. The main problem is a dog that is domesticated. Dogs are reckless and when they see a skunk, they will charge, forcing the skunk to spray. Another animal that is a problem for these critters is the great horned owl, which is the only real predator known. The owl will kill and eat the skunk and their young.