Coyotes are in the canine species and can be found all over North America. This includes Canada and the United States. They are mostly carnivorous or meat eaters who prey on animals like rabbits, birds, rodents, birds, and other mammals. However, since they do eat plants, they are technically partly omnivorous. They do have a wide range for their diet, which could include skunks.
In this article, we’ll find out if coyotes really do kill and eat skunks.
Do Coyotes Kill and Eat Skunks?
Coyotes can kill and eat skunks should the opportunity arise. The problem is coyotes prefer to avoid skunks mostly and will only eat them if this is the only thing available. Say a rabbit and a skunk walk by chances are high that the coyote is going to go after the rabbit because this is what they prefer.
A lot of animals tend to avoid skunks and for a good reason. Skunks can stink. Heck, this is why humans prefer to avoid them mostly. When a skunk is threatened, they spray a liquid towards the predator. Throw because coyotes have a very good sense of smell, and you end up with a very unpleasant situation for the coyote.
At least with humans, our sense of smell is dull when compared to a coyote, so it won’t be as unbearable.
Do Coyotes Eat Dead Skunks?
Coyotes absolutely can eat a skunk that is already dead. They eat carrion which is basically already dead animals. Technically, it’s the decaying flesh of dead animals. The animals that usually come to mind for people when they think of those that eat carrion are crows, vultures, hawks, and other birds.
However, mammals can also eat carrion, and coyotes are ones that fall into that category.
It’s more likely for a coyote to eat a dead skunk than a live one because it’s less likely to smell. The already dead skunk can’t spray so the coyote doesn’t have to worry about dealing with that overwhelming smell that can knock even the strongest animal off their feet.
Most animals that also eat already dead animals would prefer that the skunk is already dead before attempting to eat this extremely stinky animal.
Are Coyotes Attracted to Skunks?
Under no circumstances is a coyote attracted to a skunk. They actually try to avoid them and would rather literally eat anything else if they can help it. If a skunk is the only thing nearby to eat and the coyote is starving, then they will go after the skunk, but it’s never the first choice of predators.
The reason for this is that skunks stink. They have an ability spray within 10 feet of them, which is pretty far. Unfortunately for us, skunks are nearsighted and often feel very threatened pretty easily. A coyote would barely get close enough to kill a skunk before that stink is being sprayed in their direction.
Interestingly enough, skunks can defend themselves by the age of 3 months so it’s not even safe to eat a baby skunk. For this reason, coyotes are not attracted to skunks in any capacity. They are repulsed by them.
What do Coyotes Usually Eat?
While a coyote’s diet is usually made up of meat, they do also eat plants, fruits, and veggies. Their diet consists of the following foods:
· Amphibians and Fish
· Small reptiles like lizards and snakes
· Rodents like mice and rats.
· Birds, which include sparrows and even turkeys.
· Larger mammals like elk, bighorn sheep, bison, moose, elk, and white-tailed deer.
· Fruits and veggies like peaches, blueberries, apples, carrots, peanuts, watermelon, cantaloupe, blackberries, and pears.
· Plants like grass and grain.
So, a coyote’s diet is mostly meat with some fruits, veggies, and plants occasionally. This is why coyotes are referred to as omnivores because even if most their diet is meat, a small part of it is plants.
Notice that a skunk is not a part of their daily diet. This does not mean they won’t kill and eat a skunk, but it’s unlikely for them to do so unless circumstances are dire.
What do Skunks Eat?
You may think a skunk doesn’t eat meat, but think again! They are omnivores and eat both plant matter and meat. This includes?
· Bugs like cockroaches, grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, spiders, scorpions, and bees.
· Small reptiles like snakes and water snakes.
· Small amphibians like frogs, toads, newts
· Rodents like mice, moles, shrews, and rabbits.
· Fruit and veggies like nuts, corn, blackberries, blueberries, and other wild berries.
· Plants like seeds, plant parts on the ground, and plant roots.
A skunks diet has more variety to it than say a coyote does. It’s not surprising that a skunk does eat meat because they do have sharp little claws and teeth. These are the perfect combination when you are hunting and want to capture some prey for your dinner.
What is a Skunk’s Main Predator?
A skunk’s main predator is the great-horned owl. The great horned owl, sometimes known by its nickname the tiger owl, is a very large and aggressive owl that can be found in North America and South America. They can be found in many habitats and tend to eat mostly mammals and birds. One of these animals does include skunks unfortunately for them.
The great horned owl hunts by doing it usually at night. Sometimes it will do it during the dusk time as well. It will sit on a tree or some other high perch and when it sees or hears its prey, it flies down and grabs it in its very impressive talons.
This owl has very good hearing and good vision in low light conditions. Given that they tend to live in woods and areas with very little natural light (save for the moon and stars) they can see their prey very well.
If any animal is going to sneak up on a skunk before it can spray, it’s going to be a bird and a big one at that. By the time the skunk even realizes the owl is about to attack, it’s probably already in its talons.
What Would Kill a Skunk?
An animal that wants to kill a skunk needs to be one that is very quick, stealthy, and patient. The skunks scent comes from its anal gland that are especially developed. When the skunk feels like it is in danger, it sprays whatever is chasing it. It starts off as a spray so if the predator runs through it; they are going to be in for a surprise.
The actual stream comes about when they are especially threatened, and it can go a pretty far distance. This is why many land animals avoid hunting skunks if they can help it. Animals that have a better chance of being able to successfully hunt a skunk are ones that can fly and strike without little warning.
If the other mammals could grow some wings, then they would be adept at hunting skunks!
Top 10 Predators of Skunks
Even though animals tend to avoid skunks, there are animals that do hunt them. These animals include:
1. Great Horned Owl: is by far the greatest predator of the skunk. It has an advantage because it can swoop down from the air and grab the skunk with no warning. Plus, they don’t have much of a sense of smell, so this helps them!
2. Eagle: The Eagle is a large bird with a wide wingspan, so they have no trouble grabbing a skunk in its sharp claws.
3. Red-Tailed Hawk: Another bird who has sharp talons. This gives it an advantage over the skunk.
4. Golden Eagle: The last bird on our list is the Golden Eagle and similar to the eagle, is large, in charge, and can easily take down a skunk.
5. Fox: These mammals are quite the quiet clever animals so if any mammal could sneak up on a skunk, it’s this one.
6. Coyote: Not much else has to be said about the coyote. This is what the whole article is practically about!
7. Cougars: Skunks are not their first choice, but they will hunt one if necessary.
8. Bobcats: Like with cougars, they will hunt skunks if need be.
9. Wolves: The wolf’s first choice isn’t a skunk, but you’d be surprised what hunger will drive an animal to do.
10. Domestic Dogs: And finally, a domestic dog can kill a skunk. So, make sure you pay attention to your dog’s when you let them outside.
Skunks have a great advantage over other prey animals because they can spray and send predators running due to how stinky it is. A lot of predators animals have a strong smell, so this is usually a big deterrent.
Because of these reasons, coyotes prefer to just avoid skunks mostly. If they can help it, they will not hunt one because the last thing they want is to smell that.