Skunks are a very nuisance predator but do skunks eat chickens? They can go a long way looking for something to munch on.
People keep chickens for numerous reasons; some keep them for fresh eggs, while others keep them for meat.
You must consider keeping your flock safe from predators– foxes, rodents, minks, snakes, or even raccoons.
This article discusses all you need to know about Skunks and the proper ways to protect them from your flock. Read on!
Skunks are omnivores that majorly feed on insects and plants.
Their main targets are tiny chicks and eggs.
However, they’re the biggest threat to the birds and can access a coop if they find an opening or a hole.
When you decide to keep chickens, always spot clean and protect your pen to ensure that even a single skunk cannot gain access to the coop.
Skunks eat chicken as well as eggs whenever they get a chance. They prefer food rich in proteins.
Sometimes, when there is a food shortage, they primarily target free-range adult chickens that are free-rangers or not locked inside the coop at night.
What Can Attract Skunks Around Your Chicken Coop
Besides eating insects, skunks also eat rodents, lizards, frogs, snakes, salamanders, birds, larvae, roots, berries, leaves, nuts, fungi, honey bees, snakes, and chicken eggs.
Any of these things next to your coop will attract skunks. Keep reading to learn how to control these small animals to discourage the skunks.
Skunks can smell broken eggs from a distance.
Also, the smell of the broken eggs can attract the skunks. Always collect your eggs daily and change the nest beddings if you find a broken egg.
The remains of the dog and cat food can attract skunks too.
Carefully collect and dispose of the leftovers to prevent uninvited visitors, including skunks, to your chicken coop.
The remains are the most accessible food skunks can go after when hungry.
On top of that, having garbage next to your coop will attract Skunks.
They like digging in the trash when looking for food. In addition, dead carcasses present at the garbage collection point attract skunks.
They eat dead birds, rodents, and even rabbits.
It is a good idea to have good garbage and trash bins that you can seal or close appropriately with their lids ensuring that skunks will not have their way in.
Lastly, holes under your coop will lead the skunks inside.
Skunks mostly dig the hollows beneath the chicken coop. Always conduct a thorough spot check, close any available opening, and seal properly using chicken cloth.
Sings To Show That Skunks Have Been Eating Your Chickens or Eggs
It is not easy to ascertain if skunks have been eating your flock.
However, a few tips can help you understand if the predators invading your homestead are skunks or not. They include;
Some predators do not even have a scent.
However, skunks have a unique and strong scent that they leave behind, and you can notice it from a distance.
If it was in your coop, you could smell and tell that it was there.
The footprints of the Skunks are very distinct.
Skunks have five toes on each foot, just like raccoons.
But, the toes have a central paw pad, and the three center toes are very close to each other.
If you see a space between the five-toed footprint, a skunk was around your coop.
You’ll see an even space between the raccoons’ toes and paw pad. In summary, skunks’ footprints are more like paws, whereas the footprints of raccoons are more like hands.
Evidence At The Crime Scene
When Skunks eat your eggs, they’ll leave behind the egg shells.
They also attack the adult chickens on the head or the neck, eating what they only want and leaving the rest.
After a skunk attack, you’ll find a decapitated chicken carcass in your coop with feathers all over.
Skunks may eat the entire young chicks due to their small size.
It cannot be easy to notice if you have a lot of chicks.
Regular checking and counting will help you determine if a predator is eating your chicks.
If you feel something is eating your chicks, quickly check if there are holes in your coop and try to look around.
You might find a skunk hiding inside your cage mostly at night.
Protecting Your Flock From Skunks
First, cleaning up attractants is one of the best ways to discourage skunks. Instead, don’t leave the pet food outside.
Either seal the food or dispose of it properly.
Collect the eggs daily from your coop and clean the nest beddings if there is any broken egg.
Controlling rodent populations, insects, and other tiny animals that skunks can feed on is a good idea.
Second, use deterrents to discourage skunks.
Planting ammonia-soaked rags along the periphery of your coop deter the skunks.
Ammonia and urine have a similar smell that is unfriendly to the skunks.
They, therefore, see such smell as a threat, sending them away.
Besides, you can sprinkle red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, or cinnamon.
Even use commercial deterrents– motion-activated high-frequency electronics to protect your flock.
Third, make a proper chicken coop to ensure your flock is safe.
Skunks are avid diggers, therefore, check your pen regularly and seal all the holes under the pen, deterring them from entering the coop.
Most farmers prefer burying the chicken wire beneath the perimeter of the enclosure.
Again, installing solar LED lights will discourage skunks and other nocturnal animals from moving closer to the chicken coop.
The twin LED lights look like the glowing eyes of a predator during the night; skunks, therefore, feel endangered and decide to move to other places in search of food.
Lastly, use live traps to capture the skunks. Live traps are the best option– skunks cannot be injured and have no risks of killing the predator.
Do not poison them or use a trap that might cause harm when attempting to prevent them from accessing the chicken coop.
If you feel uncomfortable capturing the skunks, you can contact the Game and Fish Commission, wildlife exterminators in your place, to help you catch the skunks safely and relocate them.
How Do Skunks Kill?
Generally, skunks are nocturnal. They look for food at night and return to their dens at sunrise.
Skunks may burrow beneath the chicken coop to gain access and eat all the eggs, petite chicks, and sometimes adult chickens when they get an opportunity.
They mainly attack young chicks and eggs because they’re defenseless.
Skunks attack small breeds depending on many factors, including the age and size of the flock.
Chickens might try to fight back, but skunks will follow their instincts to kill. In most cases, skunks will bite the head or the neck when needing to kill.
Afterward, they will tear out their throats and necks. The chicken will die immediately; from then on, skunks can eat as much as they want.
Skunk might be the culprit if you find feathers, or some body parts, including intestines, in your coop.
Prevention and Treatment
The other ways of preventing skunks from entering your chicken coop include;
- Making your chicken coop out of reach by predators and establishing a secure chicken run with a proper fence is the best way to keep your flock safe.
- Skunks cannot break the fences but can try all means possible to find a weak spot that will lead them inside the chicken coop. Small chicks should have a secure brooder.
- Food, water, and shelter attract skunks. Avoid leaving pet foods outside during the night.
- Ensure you lock away your trash cans because the garbage can attract skunks. Use hardware cloth around the coop and beneath the fences to stop the skunks from digging in.
- If you feel a skunk is around, set a trap to capture and relocate it.
- Have a guard dog on your homestead. Besides keeping it as a pet, you can use it to chase away skunks and raccoons.
- A dog’s presence threatens skunks, making them move far away.
Skunks eat chicken, but many ways deter them from eating the flock.
They commonly attack small chicks and eat eggs as well. Also, they may eat adult chicken if they get a chance.
If you think skunks are eating your flock, you must take immediate action for your safety and that of your flock.
Minimize the attractants around your backyard to discourage the skunks.
They include pet foods, broken eggs, and controlling the population of rodents.
You can also use deterrents– ammonia-soaked rag plants around the coop or a live trap to capture and relocate them.
Alternatively, you can contact wildlife exterminators to relocate the skunks safely; they carry diseases that are very dangerous to animals and need to be handled with protective gear.
Now, you have all the answers to the questions regarding skunks.
But keep in mind all the safety measures to ensure your backyard is safe and sound.