Skunks, widely known for spraying a strong, unpleasant scent for self-defense, are very adaptable in their diets. These creatures are mostly found near bird feeders out of all other places.
While bird seeds are intended for birds, they aren’t the only wild critters that enjoy eating the mixture of grains and pulses. The skunk is one such nocturnal creature that can be found in close proximity to any bird seeds.
Skunks are omnivorous animals and aren’t too picky about what they put in their mouths. They eat almost anything from little birds, insects, nuts, fruits to bird seeds. They are usually found hanging around bird feeders and can be a nuisance. Not only can their presence scare the birds away, but it can also harm them and eat all of their food.
There are a few ways in which you can keep your birds safe and help keep skunks away from them, so let’s get into the details.
Do Skunks Enjoy Bird Seeds, And How Can They Be Kept Away From Bird Feeders?
While skunks can eat a variety of items, they are also fond of bird feed if it is readily available. Skunks can be a nuisance if they have become used to scavenging your bird feeders, and we have listed a few tricks you can use to keep them away. You will need a few supplies before using any of these methods:
- Petroleum jelly
- Seed tray
- “No waste” bird seed
Place the bird feeder at a height
A bird feeder placed at the height of 6-8 meters is difficult for skunks to reach. Place a baffle around the pole at the height of 2-3 meters, and lather it with petroleum jelly. This will make the pole nearly impossible for pests to climb.
Put a seed tray underneath the bird feeder
The seed tray prevents any excess or discarded seeds from falling to the ground, which is what usually attracts the skunks.
Clean up any fallen bird seeds
If you spot any fallen bird seeds or shells, make sure to pick them up by hand or diligently clean it up using a shop vac.
“No Waste” bird seed
Fill your bird feeder with “seed only” or “no waste” bird seed. This bird seed mix includes sunflower hearts or mulled millet, which only birds like to eat, reducing wasted or discarded seeds.
Keep your trash can food-free.
Another tip is to keep your trash can food-free to avoid attracting skunks and pests. Also, refrain from feeding stray cats as this will allow skunks to trespass into your property.
What Else Do Skunks Eat?
Apart from enjoying birdseed, skunks have an appetite for the tiny offspring and eggs of birds, especially those that nest on ground level. A skunk likes to feed on small animals and insects like cockroaches, snakes, grasshoppers, spiders, fish, mice, rabbits, and one of its favorite prey, the honey bee.
Yes, honeybees. It is quite interesting how skunks eat honeybees; they first scratch the beehives with their claws and forefeet and trigger them to fly out. The first set of bees is usually the ones that get eaten up.
Skunks Also Eat Plants.
Being omnivores, a plant-based diet is mostly an alternative when their favorite food is scarce. Mostly when the weather gets colder and prey is hard to find, skunks choose to eat blackberries, blueberries, corn, plant roots, nut, and seeds.
Skunk Diet In The Winter
Skunks don’t fully hibernate during winter, and when the temperature is 30F or above, they wake up from their torpor. They then leave their den and forage for food at night. They eat edible leaves, grubs, plant roots, earthworms, snakes, frogs, toads, etc.
When food is unavailable, skunks find their way into human garbage and trash cans and create havoc in backyards and gardens.
They often target other food sources in compost piles, BBQ grills, and bird feeders.
How To Get Rid Of Skunks For Good
- Remove their food source. It could be the cat food lying on your deck, grubs in your lawn, or the birdseed falling from the bird feeder. You need to find out why they are coming into your lawn and eliminate it.
- Locate their shelter and eliminate it. Another reason that skunks may enter your property is that they might have made a home nearby. It is better that you call a professional for this.
- Once you have located the den, wait until you are sure the skunks are out of it.
- Check the den for babies; skunks can be very dangerous if you disturb their young.
- Remove access to their den permanently.
- Buy a skunk repellant. A skunk repellant can drive away skunks and should be used consistently with the above two points.
- You can use predator urine around your yard to stop the trespassing of skunks.
- A homemade hot pepper spray made with chopped onion, cayenne pepper, and jalapeno pepper, boiled in 2 quarts of water. Spray generously in areas with skunk activity.
- A motion-activated sprinkler that automatically turns on with the slightest activity and sprays water up to 70 feet in diameter is sure to frighten the skunks away.
- Skunks hate bright lights, and a motion-activated light placed in places near skunk activity will easily scare them away.
- Set a catch and release trap. This is the last resort when all other methods have come to no avail. Whenever trapping a skunk, the biggest risk is getting sprayed; however, there are methods that reduce the risk of getting sprayed. (Trapping and relocating of wild animals is prohibited in some states)
- Call a professional if none of the methods have worked and the skunk situation has gotten out of hand.
Skunks As Pets
Many people do, in fact, keep skunks as pets. They are known for their laid-back temperaments and are cute to look at.
If you own a pet skunk, refrain from feeding them any bird seeds, especially sunflower seeds, as it may lead to indigestion and gastrointestinal problems.
Once skunks find their way into your yards, things become messy, smelly, and quite unbearable. They create filth and havoc wherever they go, and it is best to try and get rid of them.
They eat anything that comes their way and especially enjoy eating bird seeds, harming and scaring the birds away. Skunks are a nuisance, and we hope these methods will help you keep your birds and yard safe from skunks.