While growth and signs are things to look forward to in spring, it means replenishing lost calories to most animals. Skunks are one of them as they exhibit superb problem-solving skills in foraging food.
What do skunks eat in the spring? Since skunks are omnivores, they can eat animals, insects, and plants. They’re not picky, and they can even munch on wasps and bees. Moreover, they feast on earthworms, larvae, grubs, and any vertebrae, and occasional fish. Skunks also love to eat various plants such as fruits, roots, nuts, fungi, grass, and leaves.
They’re good at climbing and swimming, so they don’t struggle when it comes to food hunting. Also, they search for food in garbage bins. With the food varieties that they can eat, they can survive in urban areas without a doubt.
Hence, you may think that skunks have a good time in spring. But they don’t only spend time hunting for food. To know the exact things that happen to their lives in the said season, read the rest of this article.
Do Skunks Come Out in Spring?
Skunks come out in spring because they need to refuel their bodies when the weather becomes warm. They also do it for the mating season which happens in February and March.
The male can travel far to find a mate. On the other hand, it’s rare to see skunks during the day. They’re likely to come out early in the morning and at dusk.
What Do Skunks Do in Spring?
Skunks are nocturnal, so they forage at night for the nourishment that they need. They look for leftovers in places where pet food is served. Bird feeders are one of their targets.
Luckily, they don’t damage landscapes. They only dig gardens and lawns to gather worms and other invertebrates for food.
When looking for invertebrates, their bodies rotate around their noses when digging for treats. The aftermath of the search is piles or rings of loose soil. Other signs that skunks have been to a certain place are:
- Small holes on flower beds
- Droppings that are a quarter or half-inch thick and one or two inches long; undigested insects can be seen on them
- Pilfered garbage bins
- A mild to strong skunk stench with a musty odor
Male skunks travel in search of female mates. In their quest, they sometimes fight with their competitors.
Are Skunks More Active in Spring?
Skunks are more active in spring as they focus on foraging food to replace the big amount of calories that they lost in winter. It’s also the time for them to find a mate to produce offspring. They don’t hibernate in winter but only become dormant.
Skunks are in torpor from November to March since it depends on the needs and temperature. But they still occasionally wake up in winter. When in a torpor state, they don’t hibernate. It’s only their metabolism that slows down.
What Months Are Skunks Most Active?
Skunks are most active from February to early March. These are the months of the mating season, so they’re busy looking for their partner.
What Do Skunks Hate?
- Light – Since skunks are nocturnal, their eyes are sensitive to light. Hence, they don’t like bright lights or sensor floodlights.
- The smell of citrus fruits – Lemon or orange peels are natural repellents as animals, including skunks, don’t like their smell.
- Ammonia – A rag soaked with ammonia is one of the things that bother skunks.
- A room deodorizer or soap with a strong scent – Ironically, skunks dislike a strong scent.
- Predator urine – Dog or coyote urine is one of the things that skunks hate.
- A mixture of dishwashing detergent and castor oil – Dilute this mixture in water, and you can use it to drive away skunks.
Why Do I Smell Skunk Every Night?
You can smell skunks every night not only because they’re nocturnal. Another reason is that the prime mating season has come.
In this period, male skunks fight over the female. On the other hand, female skunks use their skunk spray to shoot the male that they don’t want to mate with.
Related: Skunk Smell Inside Your House at Night | What Does It Mean?
Are Skunks Bad to Have Around?
Skunks are bad to have around because their terrible smelling skunk sprays from their anal glands.
Despite being solitary, mild-mannered, and not so aggressive, they can shoot the spray when they’re startled. Some people got sprayed when they were just walking in the dark and failed to notice a skunk.
Spraying is also their defense mechanism. When it seems that you make them feel threatened, turn your back when you see one so you can avoid getting stamped by their forefeet.
It’s their first warning, and if you don’t back off, they will release their skunk spray.
There’s a study about rabid skunks infected by raccoon rabies virus variant in the eastern part of the US. It becomes one of the public health concerns as there’s a risk of transferring rabies to humans.
Not to mention that there’s a lot of skunks in urban and suburban areas. So, this is one reason that it’s bad to have skunks around.
Are Skunks Friendly?
Skunks are friendly when they’re born and raised under human supervision. They are unique pets that can be intelligent.
Where Do Skunks Nest?
Skunks nest in dens that they dig using their strong front claws. They usually make it in burrows deserted by coyotes, foxes, and squirrels.
If dens are nowhere to be found, they settle for culverts, hollow logs, and brush piles.
In urban areas, skunks nest below porches, decks, and at the bottom of the building where they become a nuisance. If the ideal den is not available, the last option is to dig their own.
Communal dens are prevalent in places with cold climates in winter.
What Attracts Skunk to Properties?
Here are the things that attract skunk to properties:
Freshly Laid Garden Beds
Newly-made garden beds or fresh sods attract a skunk as they are filled with grubs, earthworms, and other soil insects.
The hunt for food for skunks starts in spring, so they patrol properties at night. They can ravage the lower part of ripening crops like corn in a garden.
Among the plants, they hunt for grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, bees, and larvae. Moreover, they scavenge for pet food, fruits, nuts, birdseed, and more. They also rummage garbage cans.
Skunks are solitary so they prefer to nest in dark areas where predators can’t find and attack them.
Thus, this is one of the reasons why they are attracted to properties as they can find suitable nesting places like under porches and decks as well as basements and crawl spaces.
Since skunks don’t like to travel far, they don’t stay in properties for shelter but food supply and water as well.
Where Do Skunks Go During the Day?
Skunks go out during the day even though they’re known as nocturnal and hunt at night. They roam during the day for some reason.
- When the skunk’s natural habitat is disturbed, it won’t wait until it gets dark to search for a new one. It needs shelter to be protected from predators. It’s an emergency for them to find a den, so they go to a suitable area even if it’s daytime.
- Shortage of food obliges skunks to go out during the day in places that abound with food supply. This particularly happens in winter due to scarcity of food.
- An infected or sick skunk can go somewhere during the day as it’s slow and disoriented. It might lose track of its den and can’t find its way back. It’s a risky move for the skunk and humans too.
The skunk exposes itself to wild animals while it can transmit infectious diseases to a person if it’s rabid.
How Smart Are Skunks?
Skunks are smart animals with a temperament that varies from one to another. Therefore, they have distinctive personalities like cats and dogs.
After winter, the time of scarcity of food, skunks are one of the animals that end their torpor state. Spring is the time to replenish the calories that are gone in winter. Since they’re omnivores, they can eat varieties of food such as nuts, fruits, soil insects, invertebrates, and small mammals.
List of Sources
Guerra, M. A., et al. (2003). Skunk and raccoon rabies in the eastern United States: temporal and spatial analysis. Emerging infectious diseases.
Signs of Spring 5: Skunks! (2018). Pennsylvania State University – Ecologist’s Notebook.
Gibbons, W. (2017). Skunks are more active now. Savannah River Ecology Laboratory – University of Georgia.
Voyle, G. (2016). Springtime animal damage in your landscape. Michigan State University.