The Only Predator That Routinely Preys On Skunks Is The?
Answer: Great Horned Owl
The great horned owl, found throughout most of the Western Hemisphere (practically everywhere in North America and throughout large areas of South America), is best known for its distinct horns, its distinct call (even if you’ve never seen a great horned owl in your life, you’ve certainly heard their distinct call dubbed into movies and TV shows), and presence throughout forests and farmland.
While a fierce predator that has little problem finding food—be that rodents, mammals, other birds, reptiles, or amphibians—the great horned owl has a particular aspect of the nocturnal dining market it has totally cornered: skunks.
Practically every other creature big enough to attack a skunk avoids the pungent critters with a passion. The simple odor of a skunk (let alone a direct blast of its oily defensive spray) is more than enough to send even the hungriest of creatures scampering. The great horned owl, on the other hand, has the perfect combination of tools at its disposal to make short work of skunks. Not only are owls incredibly good predators thanks to specialized feathers that allow them to fly in almost absolute silence coupled with strong, sharp talons, but the great horned owl is also both big enough to take down a skunk and, as far as scientists can tell, almost completely devoid of any sense of smell.
Without the horrid stench to ward them away, great horned owls lay into skunks without a care. In many cases, great horned owl nests will even reek of skunk musk to the point that it likely keeps away other animals—in one particular case, researchers found the remains of 57 different skunks in a single nest they were documenting. So the next time you’re driving along and the cabin of your car fills with the unmistakable scent of skunk musk, know that you’d smell that scent a lot more often if an army of great horned owls wasn’t silently gliding through the twilight snatching up skunks before they trundled their way across nearby roadways.
Image by Greg Hume/Wikimedia.