Are Skunks Nocturnal?

Do you want to hear some fun facts about skunks? Skunks can spray up to 10 feet and the smell of their spray can be detected up to a mile and a half away. Skunks eat some venomous creatures – like wasps, bees, and even poisonous snakes (they are immune to snake venom). Lastly, a group of skunks is called a surfeit. 

But are skunks nocturnal? Skunks are nocturnal, but that does not mean that they never come out during the day. While they usually only come out during the night, they will sometimes come out during the day if they smell food or when they need to feed their young.

Cat or dog food that is left outside by pet owners are some things that will attract skunks to come out during the daytime. Skunks will be more likely to come out during the day if there is a lot of competition for getting food during the night from other nocturnal animals. Baby skunks are also more likely to come out during the day than adult skunks. 

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Why are some animals nocturnal? 

Striped Skunk Family
Striped Skunk Family

Nocturnal animals are animals that are more active during the night than during the day. These animals sleep during the day, usually in a burrow or a den, and spend the night getting food. Some animals, such as coyotes, kangaroos, and bats, are nocturnal because they live in hot desert habitats and it is cooler during the night.

Scientists believe that the reason that some other animals are nocturnal is to avoid predators.  

A lot of nocturnal animals have developed special adaptions to help them survive in the dark nights. Some animals (like owls and cats) have excellent eyesight that allows them to see in the dark. Other nocturnal animals (like rabbits) have good hearing that helps them thrive in the nighttime. This is also one of the skunks adaptations – skunks have poor eyesight but they have a strong sense of both hearing and smell.  

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What other animals are nocturnal? 

Other nocturnal animals that live in America are badgers, coyotes, raccoons, foxes, opossums, armadillos, owls, minks, and beavers.  

Can you have a skunk as a pet?

Pet Striped Skunk
Pet Striped Skunk

The striped skunk, Mephitis mephitis, is the most social species of skunks and it’s most commonly kept as a pet. In the US, skunks can legally be kept as pets in 17 states! When a skunk is kept as a pet, its scent glands are often surgically removed.

Why do skunks have a stripe? 

The purpose of a skunk’s stripe is to act as a warning for other animals. This is a self-defense mechanism and when predators see the skunk’s stripe they know to stay away. This acts as a warning to tell any other animals that if they get too close, they will get sprayed. 

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Why do skunks spray? 

Believe it or not, most carnivorous mammals have anal glands that secrete a potent substance. Some animals, like wolverines, use their glands to mark their territory, while others, like minks, use theirs as a repellent. But skunks are the only animals that use theirs as a defense mechanism.

Skunks will spray attackers with the mist and that way any other animal who wants to get to the skunk has to go through their stinky mist. Their spray is so strong that it can make some other species vomit or even cause temporary blindness in other animals.  

Skunks can also control which direction the spray is going to or make it heavier or lighter by making the secretion gland’s openings bigger or smaller. Skunks will only spray as a last resort. This is because skunks can only store about 4 tablespoons of their spray fluid and it takes several days for them to be able to replenish it once they use it.

Instead, skunks will try to run away first, then raise their tail in warning, then stomp their feet, and then they will resort to spraying. 

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What do skunks eat? 

Skunks are considered to be omnivores, so they eat both plants and animals. Skunks are also opportunistic eaters, so they will eat what they can find. Insects and grubs are favorite foods of skunks. They love to eat beetles, grasshoppers, crickets, spiders, cockroaches, grubs, and worms.

They will also eat small rodents, such as mice, rabbits, and voles, fish, reptiles, amphibians, and ground-nesting birds. While skunks do prefer to eat other animals, they will eat fruit, berries, mushrooms, or crops during the winter or when they are having a hard time finding some of their other food choices.

Skunks will also raid garbage cans to get food if they smell something in garbage that smells good to them.