Do Skunks Eat Chickens? 3 Ways to Prevent

For an aviculturist, keeping skunks and rats away from the chicken coop is the hardest job. It’s a dream of every aviculturist to scare the rats and skunks away and provide a safe place for the chickens to live in. 

Humans have found a million ways to deal with these issues. Rats and skunks attacking the chicken coop remain the most commonly faced issue.

Frankly, Rats attacking the chicken coop is not that worrisome, having skunks around the chickens is. 

Rats are just too small to attack or harm a fully grown chicken, however, Skunks are not that harmless.

Even if rats raid and attack chicken coops they would either eat the freshly laid eggs or contaminate the chicken feed. So, they are still quite manageable. Whereas, the skunks are believed to be the chicken predators. 

Whether skunks “really” kill chickens or not is known only to a few of us. If they do kill chickens, they do it so well that we rarely spot them taking our chicken’s life.

However, we need to know how true it is that we can save our chickens from giving lives to these ruthless skunks.

As in the previous post, do chickens attract rats? You got to know the truth. It’s time to find out if skunks “really” attack and kill chickens or not. Here’s what you need to know;

Do Skunks Eat Chickens?

If we are supposed to get a little specific, yes skunks occasionally eat chickens. This member of the Mephitidae family would be just as much of a predator as coyotes and wolves. So if you see a skunk around do whatever you can do to prevent your chickens from being attacked and killed. 

Why Do Skunks Eat Chickens?

Skunks are categorized as omnivores. They normally feast on insects, small vertebrates, eggs, and vegetable matter.

Eating chickens are never Skunk’s preference, they look for bees, grasshoppers, beetle larvae, crickets, berries, grubs, and worms instead. Skunks attack, kill, and eat chickens only when they are tired of finding food.

So, skunks eat these domestic birds to fulfill the food requirements. It’s hard to live without food, they eat chickens mainly to survive.

Related Can Chickens Eat Shrimp?

Do they attack chickens to eat?

Yes, whenever they attack chickens they do so to eat them. There is no other reason to attack these domestic birds.  

Skunks have got another reason to kill chickens as well

Well, they do not always kill these birds to eat. They do not just harm these domestic birds alone but their eggs as well. Sometimes the skunks attack and kill the chickens to eat their eggs as well. 

The question arises why do skunks have to kill a chicken to eat eggs? Well, it’s because the hens are super protective of their eggs. It’s “really” not that easy to reach their eggs. So, sometimes to satisfy their taste buds they have to kill chickens to reach their eggs.

So we can say “skunks kill chickens” is not a myth. The skunks do kill chickens but they do that occasionally.

Skunks usually attack and kill chickens to eat. Sometimes, they attack and kill these birds to have access to eggs and meat.

Knowing skunks attack, kill, and eat chickens and eggs is not enough, there is still a lot you need to know. Here’s what else you should know about this skunk’s ruthless behavior;

Skunks hardly kill adult chickens

Even though skunks are just as big as the size of the housecats. To be more specific, they are just about 8 to 9 inches tall.

It’s a little hard to attack or kill an exceptionally healthy adult chicken. However, attacking, killing, and even eating a young chicken or chick is not that hard. So, they prefer attacking what they can handle; chicks usually. 

Even if skunks do not always kill, they end up hurting the chickens

If skunks are almost of the same size as house cats, chickens are not that small either. Attacking and killing a bird of more or less the same size can never be easy.

Skunks are never always successful in attacking and killing the birds, sometimes the unsuccessful attempts end up hurting the chickens. 

Skunks go for eggs the most than chickens

It is observed that skunks prefer going for easier defenseless prey. They just do try very hard or put their life at stake for food.

As eggs can not defend themselves, they go for eggs the most. Moreover, chicken hatchless are just as defenseless as eggs, they do mind eating them as well.

Whenever skunks break into the chicken coop, they look for the eggs first

Whenever you spot a skunk breaking into a chicken coop, the first thing you should be concerned about is not chickens but eggs.

They look for eggs first as eggs are defenseless and easier to steal. Skunks would only attack chickens when they are starving and could not find eggs.

Related Do Chickens Attract Rats? 

If skunks have to eat meat, they prefer killing rats instead

As mentioned above, skunks are categorized as omnivores. Because of being an omnivore, they do crave meat sometimes.

To fulfill their desire to eat meat, skunks set small targets first such as rats. Skunks would only go for bigger ones when they are starving.

How to Protect Your flock from Skunks?

Skunks can be prevented from entering the territory quite easily. They have no interest in the chicken coop other than the chickens and eggs. It is said that skunks have a strong sense of smell which brings them to the chicken coop. To prevent the skunk attacks, here’s what can you do;

  • Set a defence for your chickens
  • Do not throw garbage near your chicken coop as skunks eat leaves, fruits, and vegetables as well. So, they do not come near the chicken coop searching for food
  • Do not leave the eggs in the coop for a long time. Collect them right away.
  • Do not forget to lock your chicken coop in the night.
  • Empty the feeder in the night so they can not smell food
  • Give ammonia-soaked bags a try. The ammonia-soaked bags smell as big predator’s urine so these bags are quite effective in scaring the predator away

Conclusion

In brief, yes skunks attack, kill, and eat chickens if they get a chance. However, they look for easier and defenseless targets; eggs and chicks.

If food is readily available, skunks prefer eating bees, grasshoppers, beetle larvae, crickets, berries, grubs, worms, leaves, fruits, and vegetables instead. When they have to eat meat, they kill rats and chicks first.

The skunk attacks can be easily prevented by defending up the chicken coop, emptying the feeder in the night, collecting the eggs right away, and leaving the ammonia-soaked bags around the chicken coop.

  • Shumaila Ijaz is a Livestock expert and animal breeder. She has her own local farms for breeding and livestock nourishment. She is a research writer and answers the questions of readers.

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