Skunks are solitary family Mephitidae mammals that are known not only for their rather conspicuously disagreeable "scared" odor emissions, but also for their tendencies to scavenge for food in trashcans -- often quite messily, too. Because of that habit, the little omnivorous creatures are often considered to be pests to human beings and their neighborhoods.
Skunk Feeding Habits
Skunks conduct all of their business when it's dark outside, as they are nocturnal creatures, according to the Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development division. Because they are nocturnal, they feed at night. In the daytime, skunks generally sleep in spots that are dark and isolated -- think burrows underground, for example.
Not only do skunks actually eat at night, they also hunt for sustenance then as well. Skunks consume both plants and meats, and are true omnivores. Some common components of their diet include grass, foliage, tiny mammals such as rodents, bugs, fruit, crustaceans, buds, birds, grains, carrion and grubs. These furry animals are not too choosy about what they'll put inside of their mouths.
Skunks as Pests
Skunks typically have very meek dispositions and usually stay far away from people whenever possible. However, they often reside in city and suburban locales -- close to human sources of food. Whether they rest underneath verandas of homes or in abandoned structures, they often use the night hours to forage for sustenance in trashcans and gardens. If people leave food out for pets, they usually get to that stuff too. If you wake up to an absolute mess in your yard, there is a big chance that a skunk ransacked the garbage overnight.
During the coldest and most frigid months of the year, skunks often enter into dormant periods of reduced activity in which they remain underground inside of dens. However, whenever possible skunks do emerge from their dens to look for food. This state of decreased activity may last for anywhere between four and five months, indicates the Ontario Ministry of Natural Sources. In winters that aren't too severe and cold, however, skunks may stay as busy looking for food as always.
- NC State University Cooperative Extension: Skunks
- Purdue Agriculture: Skunks
- Maine.gov: Got Pests?
- Indiana Department of Natural Resources: Striped Skunk
- Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development: Biology and Control of Skunks
- Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources: Striped Skunk Ecology
- Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife: Skunks