Do Skunks Kill Chickens? Do Skunks Eat Chickens?

do skunks east chickens
Yes, Skunks do feast on chicken meat and fresh eggs if given the chance. Most people don’t picture skunks as ravenous, bloodthirsty carnivores. While these animals are shy and submissive by nature, skunks will kill and eat chickens if an opportunity presents itself.

The “good” news is that skunks typically only go after chickens if they’re already sick, injured, or dead. They also tend to go after young chicks and eggs rather than adult chickens. So, if you have a healthy flock of chickens, the chances of a skunk attack are reduced.

Regardless, free-range chicken without ample protection can invite these foul-smelling beasts into your territory. 

striped skunk inspecting the grass

Skunks and other predators like foxes, coyotes, and hawks can devastate your chicken coop, so it’s essential to take the necessary steps to bar their entry. All that said, do skunks eat chickens, big and small?

Let’s learn more about a skunk’s behavior and what you can do to protect your chickens from becoming a midnight snack.

Are skunks a threat to chickens?

Yes, they can be a threat. Skunks are omnivorous creatures, eating just about anything including rodents, small reptiles, insect larvae, and grasshoppers. And it just so happens that baby chicks and chicken eggs are also part of their menu.

While skunks aren’t known to be hardcore chicken predators, they may kill and maim chickens if the opportunity arises. This typically happens if the chickens are sick, weak, or unable to fend for themselves. The reason for this is that they’re an easier target.

Skunks are opportunistic feeders, so if they can get an easy meal, they’ll most likely do so.

skunk sniffing near a tree trunk

Would a skunk kill chickens?

While a skunk’s first instinct upon seeing a big chicken is usually to avoid them, Skunks can eat them. Skunks typically bite a chickens’ necks and tear its head off. Once the chicken is dead, the skunk will then eat the rest of its body and entrails. 

Skunks are far more likely to feast on chicken eggs and baby chicks than larger chickens. Baby chicks are defenseless and won’t retaliate against their attacker, making them easy prey. On the other hand, an adult chicken’s beak and claws can do some severe damage to a skunk.

As nocturnal animals, skunks often forage at night to avoid detection from humans and other predators. This is why most attacks happen at night and are only detected the next morning. 

Protecting your chickens with a wire fence and rodent traps can help to keep predators like skunks and raccoons away from your chicken coop.

skunk close up

6 signs a skunk killed your chicken

Chickens make for a good meal for many wild animals, such as opossums and weasels, so it can seem difficult to tell if a skunk was the one responsible for the attack.

However, there are telltale signs that point to a skunk being the culprit of your chicken’s untimely death.

These signs include:

1. Nighttime attacks

Skunks are nocturnal animals, so if your chickens die during the day, it may be another predator.

2. Foul smell

Skunks spray a foul-smelling liquid when they’re threatened or feel scared. If you notice a sulfuric stench near your chicken coop, it’s likely a skunk.

3. Chewed necks

A skunk is likely the culprit if the chicken’s neck has been chewed and its head is missing.

4. Eggs sucked dry

Skunks love to eat chicken eggs. A skunk may be to blame if your chicken eggs disappear or if the eggshells are broken and empty.

5. Carcass remains, organs eaten.

A skunk may be the culprit if you find your chicken’s carcass, but its organs are missing.

6. A hole near the fence

Skunks are known for burrowing holes near houses and fences. If you see a hole near your chicken coop, it may be how the skunk got in.

skunk lurking near a wood porch

Will a skunk eat a whole chicken?

Skunks rarely attack chickens, but when they do, they don’t consume the feathered bird in its entirety. A full-sized chicken’s body is much too large to fit in the stomach of a skunk.

Instead of eating a whole chicken, they eat only bits and pieces, like the organs and meat. Once they’ve had their fill, they leave the carcass behind in a messy, blood-stained state.

Will skunks eat chicken eggs?

Yes. If a skunk enters a chicken coop through a weak spot and stumbles upon some unattended eggs, it would be more than happy to eat them.

Chicken eggs are a good source of protein for skunks, making them a tempting treat. A skunk may be to blame if you find empty eggshells while your chickens remain relatively unharmed.

chicken coop

How do I keep skunks away from my chicken coop?

Skunks are notorious diggers, capable of burrowing 2 feet underground and using crawl spaces to access areas they normally couldn’t.

This is why it’s crucial to have a wire fence buried at least 2 feet underground to deter skunks from making an unwelcomed appearance.

The wire fence should also extend at least 2 feet above ground level to prevent the animals from climbing over it.

Another way to deal with skunks is by setting up a live trap baited with treats like pet food, chicken, or fish. Once the skunk is caught, you can relocate it away from your property or destroy it.

Lastly, you could contact animal control to facilitate stress-free skunk removal.

skunk in a hollowed out log

Can skunks chew through chicken wire?

Skunks can chew through chicken wire if they’re determined enough.

Their sharp teeth and strong jaws can easily puncture holes through the wire mesh, giving them access to the chicken coop.

If you’re looking for a more durable alternative, use hardware cloth instead of chicken wire. It’s a heavy-duty metal mesh that can keep skunks and other predators at bay.

Joshua Munoz

Most people’s first instinct when they see a wild skunk is to back away, but not Joshua. He holds a near-obsessive fascination with skunks and their behavior. Although Joshua has never been closer than five feet to a skunk, he has spent countless hours researching them. He knows almost everything there is to know about skunks, from their diet and habitat, to how to humanely trap them. Joshua’s interest in skunks is rooted in his love of animal biology. He fondly remembers topping his finals in biology class while in university. Now, as a writer, he fuses passion and expertise into one by sharing his knowledge about the animal kingdom with others.

Recent Posts