Skunks usually attack flocks by killing only one victim, and are known for their clumsy mauling efforts. Skunks are very good diggers, mainly attributed to their sharp curving claws. They generally do not climb, and will often crawl underneath fences or dig below to gain access to poultry. They will kill only one or two birds and eat the eggs. The eggs are typically crushed at one end with shell fragments pushed inward.
Because skunks are usually active at night, many people never notice that they are living nearby. Barking dogs may be the first apparent sign of their presence, and the odor resulting from a skunk/dog confrontation will provide positive evidence.
Appearance: Skunks range in size from about in 15.6 to 37 in (40 to 94 cm) long and in weight from about 1.1 lb (0.50 kg) (spotted skunks) to 18 lb (8.2 kg) (hog-nosed skunks). The skunk's odor it discharges is a repellent of predators. They have two internal glands at the base of the tail which can produce a thick, volatile, oily liquid containing sulfur compounds. Just prior to spraying, skunks do a type of war dance intended to scare off what they might deem as a threat. Once skunks raise their tails, they are able to spray up to 20 ft with good accuracy to 10 ft.
Reproduction: Skunks are mainly active during the warmer months, giving birth to young mid-spring to mid-summer. During the cold of winter, skunks are inactive but will mate in late winter.
Habitat: Skunks live in clearings, pastures, open lands bordering forests and den in the ground, under buildings, and under wood or rock piles.
Skunks pose a threat to your flock and can also carry rabies in the United States. The striped skunk is second only to the raccoon in number of recorded rabies cases within the United States.
Keep your birds in a predator-proof enclosure or coop at night. :
Prevent skunks from digging underneath enclosures to access poultry : Bury fencing 1 to 2 ft (0.4 to 0.6 m) underneath the ground or alternately, bring outward 11 to 24 in to form an apron around the perimeter of the enclosure, securing with anchors, large rocks, or low level native vegetation.
Environmental modifications : Keep shrubbery and grass trimmed. Pick up fallen fruit and harvest garden frequently. Remove rock and woodpiles that might be used for den sites. Securely board off entry under sheds, outbuildings, porches, and vacant buildings. Eliminate water sources.
- Ammonia-soaked rags : Place ammonia-soaked rags where the animal is seen.