Guest Post – Skunks and Chickens

Credit Ben FrantzDale – CC-BY-SA


Guest Post

From time to time I will be publishing posts from guest authors whose writings I think will interest people. Of course, all opinions and assertions in these posts belong solely to the authors and do not necessarily agree with mine. Please direct your praise and criticism to the author. — rjb

Today’s guest author is Laird Smith

Laird Smith

Before I begin I would like to remind you to check out the free novels and audiobooks while you’re on the Green Comet website.

Last column, I wrote about chickens. This time around I want to introduce to you a critter who gets a great deal of blame for things it has not been guilty of. That critter is the skunk. It is an opportunist and its smell betrays its presence.

I’ve heard the stories about how skunks kill chickens, how skunks eat chicken eggs, but I have a difficult time believing those stories after seeing the opposite happen in our family farm chicken pen.

My Dad, whom I will call Wally, was feeding the chickens one afternoon when he smelled the distinct odor of skunk. He went into the hen house and the odor was much stronger. Wally looked around but saw no skunk until he crouched down and looked under the roosting bench. There crouched in the corner was a skunk glaring at him. Not wanting to cause the skunk to have a reason to spray him, he let it be. Wally had heard the stories of the killer skunks too. Now was the time to see if the stories were true. Wally went about his usual routine, filling up troughs and the water buckets, and making sure the hens were happy. The hens were not disturbed at all by the presence of the skunk.

The next day, when Wally went down to give the hens their breakfast, there were no dead hens. When he gathered the eggs, he collected the usual numbers, none were missing that he could tell. In the late morning when Wally released the birds to forage there were still no missing hens. When he collected the last of the morning egg laying, he found no shells and collected the usual number of eggs.

The second day was the same as the first, no missing hens nor any missing eggs. When Wally entered the hen house, the skunk was always in the corner. Neither made a move to disturb the other.

The third day arrived. Guess what. No dead chickens and no missing eggs! It turned out that the skunk was feeding on the prolific mice in the hen house. The hens were still not stressed out by the presence of the skunk. They went in and out of the hen house freely without any hesitation. If the skunk had been a threat to the hens in any way, they wouldn’t have gone into the hen house to lay their eggs nor roost at night.

When Wally went down to close up the chicken pen for the night, he took a flashlight and shined it under the roosting bench. To his surprise the skunk was gone. It seemed that three days of eating mice and drinking out of the water bucket was enough for the skunk. It was time to seek other food in other locations.

This skunk had every opportunity to kill a chicken or steal an egg but didn’t do so. I would say that the rumours of skunks killing chickens and stealing eggs is because of their smell betraying them. If a skunk found a dead chicken, why wouldn’t it stop for a free meal that another animal killed and then abandoned for some reason? A chicken is a bird that is too big for a skunk to try to kill anyways, and mice are much easier to tackle.

So there you have it, my story about why skunks are wrongfully blamed.

Laird Smith

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