Skunk - Chicken Predators - How To Protect Your Chickens From Skunks

Skunks (also known as polecats in the USA) are medium size mammals, probably best known for their ability to spray a liquid with a strong,...
By BYC Support · Jan 10, 2012 · Updated Jun 18, 2013 · ·
  1. BYC Support
    General Information and Description

    Skunks (also known as polecats in the USA) are medium size mammals, probably best known for their ability to spray a liquid with a strong, unpleasant odour. There are four species of skunks: the hooded skunk, the striped skunk, the spotted skunk and the scarce hog-nosed skunk. The most common of the four being the striped skunk. Skunks' eyes and ears are small and though their vision is bad, they have a keen sense of hearing. Skunks are members of the weasel family and spotted skunks look similar to weasels because they are much smaller and have narrower faces than the other skunk species. Adult skunks measure around 2 feet long, including a 7-10 inch tail. They weigh between 3 and 12 pounds, depending on age, sex, physical condition and season. Males on average are 15% larger and heavier than females. Although the most common fur colour is black and white, some skunks are brown or grey and a few are cream coloured. All skunks are striped, even from birth. They may have a single black stripe across their backs and tails and two thinner stripes, or (in the case of the spotted skunk) a series of white spots and broken stripes. Some also have stripes on their legs.


    Skunks are widespread in the United States and can also be found in southern Canada and northern Mexico. They are found in a wide variety of habitats including woodlands, grasslands and agriculture lands and are very common in urban areas. Both the spotted and the striped skunk can be found across the Great Plains.

    Method of Kill

    Skunks are mostly nocturnal and begins it's search for food at dusk. At sunrise, it will retire to it's den, which may be a ground burrow, beneath a building, or a rock pile. If skunks gain access to your coop, they will normally feed on the eggs and may hurt or kill your chickens.

    Prevention and Treatment

    To protect your flock from skunks ensure they are kept in secure coops and runs with proper fencing. Small chicks should be kept in a secure brooder. Skunks are normally not inclined to break through fences, but will try to gain access through any weak spots and loose places in fences and buildings. Skunks are excellent diggers and may try to gain entry by digging under fences. Skunks are attracted by food, water, and shelter, so don't leave any pet food, windfalls under trees or any other feeds outside overnight that may attract them. Place paving slabs around the perimeter of the coop and run or bury a few inches of hardware cloth or welded wire along the bottom of fences to stop them digging their way in. If you have an existing skunk problem or suspect you may have one visiting you can set a baited live trap.

    For more information and discussions on skunks and how to protect your flock see the Predators and Pests section on the forum.

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Recent User Reviews

  1. ronott1
    "Good article"
    4/5, 4 out of 5, reviewed Sep 18, 2018
    Another good article about a predator and how to control for them
  2. Anonymous
    "Easy read info."
    4/5, 4 out of 5, reviewed Aug 9, 2018
    Nice info on this predator.
  3. BobDBirdDog
    "Quick, short and to the point"
    4/5, 4 out of 5, reviewed Jul 23, 2018
    I liked the article as it was very short, informative and well formatted as to be expected in an article.


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  1. copperstone20
    I forgot to mention the wooden boxes aren't very big. Perhaps 6" x 4" with a top added to overhang the entire box. Hope this helps.
  2. copperstone20
    Here where I live, we use moth balls enclosed in a small wooden box that has hardware cloth covered holes in the sides. The boxes are filled with the moth balls, the covers are screwed shut so that nothing else can get to the inside and then placed at about 10 feet apart around the perimeter of the property. We no longer have problems with skunks. We can smell them once in awhile but they don't like the smell of the moth balls and stay out.
  3. Harborotter
    I had no skunks bothering my chickens and then in one night a pair dug under and killed exactly 50 pullets and chickens. It took me two nights but I trapped and killed them both. Both were caught trying to break back in.
  4. countrydream7
    i have yet to see a skunk near my glad of that...
  5. countrydream7
  6. BobDBirdDog
    Moth balls work with snakes as well!

    There are is actually a 5th breed of skunk......Dead Stinky Skunk!
  7. jaylyne8
    someone told me of using moth balls around your chicken coop... I haven't tried it since I never had a predator until last night when one of my chicken was brutally murdered and had her head bitten off... fortunately my rooster protected the other hens from the same fate... not sure if it was a skunk (maybe a cat) but some of my friends said that moth balls deters skunks from entering coop
  8. jtn42248
    Based on the odor there was a skunk living under my coop. This is an older coop that I am reconditioning for 25 hens that are currently in an indoor brooder inside the house. Using advice from neighbors I left lights on at unpredictable times at night, made a lot of noise around the coop during the day, reinforced the predator protection around the run (the coop has a concrete floor so it is pretty secure). End result...there is no skunk odor after about a week of the above. Don't know if the skunk has moved on or just showered and cleaned up. But it seems to be gone. We are about a month away from skunk baby season in West/Central Texas so we shall see what is coming down the pike.
  9. countrydream7
    ok so you trap the skunk and then it sprays you when you go to release it or pick up trap? wouldn't want that job ...
  10. bantamgirl
    a predator ( possibly a skunk) got in my coop the other night and killed my slilkie i set a trap the next night and i was right it was a skunk i released it but i have a feeling it will be back, setting the trap again tonight and for however long it takes to put a floor in the new coop. as mean as it was for killing my chicken i do have to admit that skunks are so cute.
  11. tiny529
    A skunk got into my portable coop last night and ate 4 of my 7 chicks right out from under my broody hen! My hen only suffered a scratch on her toe. The survivors are all sleeping in my kitchen right now until a more secure solution can be found!
  12. Bernice Clark
    Yikes! I don't know where to turn. Last night we counted six young skunks and the mama living under my tool shed which is about ten feet from my coop/run that holds my four pet pullets 12 weeks old. I have called the local animal control center and they recommended using repellent which we did. Our phone calls to private animal removal companies have gone unreturned.
  13. Seatrout00
    Ugg - I'd rather have a problem with wolves or rhinos than skunks - I pity the soul who has to deal with these guys - that stench is nearly impossible to scrub out of my sinuses.
  14. caged8o
    I recently called the local Gov't Shelter to remove a Skunk in the Barn that backs up to the Chicken Coop!! The Women officer covered the trap and carried it across the field and released it. Does anyone know what the skunk did when he was released? I have the best of the Story if anyone's interested. I'm sure you have figured it by now. You just can't make this UP!

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