Most predators don’t bother hunting skunks, unless they’re really desperate. Ground predators with a sense of smell, such as foxes, bobcats, and coyotes, will sometimes take on a skunk, but most have learned that an attack on the black-and-white striped critter comes at a heavy price -- being doused with the skunk’s noxious spray, its well-known self-defense measure. However, one predator patrolling the sky, the great horned owl, has a poor sense of smell and is unfazed by the skunk’s odious counterattack. This owl, with an average wingspan of 48 inches (122 cm) is typically a skunk’s worst nightmare.
Owls and Oldsmobiles have it in for skunks:
- Skunks are active at night and are prime targets for the night-stalking great horned owl, even though a skunk can weigh up to three times as much as this formidable bird of prey.
- Owls use powerful talons -- with a crushing power of 300 pounds per square inch (2,068 kilopascals) -- to kill and carry animals away. They prey on a variety of creatures, including raccoons, rabbits, squirrels, mice, domestic birds, falcons, and even other owls.
- Automobiles and disease kill more skunks than all of their predators put together. Skunks have poor eyesight and are often unable to avoid vehicles on busy roads.