Nocturnal Nibblers: Skunks 

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Foragers with a Distinctive Scent

Skunks are unique nocturnal creatures known for their striking black and white coloration and their potent defensive spray. While they primarily feed on insects, small rodents, and plants, they can occasionally venture into gardens. Understanding their behavior and implementing effective strategies can help you coexist with these nighttime foragers.

Is it Good or Bad to Have Skunks in Your Garden?

Having skunks in your garden can actually be beneficial. They are natural pest controllers, feeding on insects, small rodents, and even garden pests like slugs. However, their presence can be a concern due to their defensive spray, which they release when threatened.


  • Size and Appearance: Skunks are small to medium-sized mammals, measuring about 15 to 37 inches in length, including their tail. They have distinctive black fur with a white stripe running down their back.
  • Nocturnal Behavior: They are primarily nocturnal, which means they are most active at night.
  • Scent Glands: Skunks have scent glands near their tails that can produce a foul-smelling spray when they feel threatened.

What Do They Do?

  1. Diet: Skunks are omnivores, feeding on a wide variety of food, including insects, small mammals, fruits, vegetables, and plants.
  2. Burrowing: They may create shallow burrows to seek shelter or give birth to their young.
  3. Defensive Spray: Skunks have a potent spray that they use as a defense mechanism against predators. They will typically warn by stomping their front feet before resorting to spraying.

What Do They Like to Eat?

  • Insects like beetles, grasshoppers, and crickets
  • Small rodents like mice and voles
  • Fruits and berries
  • Vegetables like corn and squash

Managing Skunks in a Sustainable Way:

  1. Remove Attractants: Secure garbage cans, remove fallen fruits, and clear away food sources that may attract skunks.
  2. Provide Alternative Food Sources: Set up feeding stations with cat food or other suitable alternatives away from your garden.
  3. Motion-Activated Lights: Install motion-activated lights in your garden to deter foraging at night.
  4. Fencing: Use fencing, especially with a mesh buried below ground, to deter skunks from entering your garden.
  5. Natural Predators: Encourage natural predators like owls, hawks, and foxes.
  6. Habitat Modification: Remove tall grasses and dense vegetation around your garden to limit hiding spots.


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