Saturday, August 10, 2013

Stinker

The last two evenings, just after I've finished watering the gardens, a young skunk has dropped in to look for worms and/or slugs in the wet mud. Tonight I was almost ready for him, with the camera out of its case and on the desk. And the door closed, so I frightened him off by opening it. But he came back:

About a foot, nose to rump.* The board is 3 1/2 inches square.

He hated the flash, and took off running as soon as it went off.

Can immature skunks spray? I looked it up. Yes, they can. They've got the equipment at birth, and learn to use it around the 8th day. So this skunk "teen" is armed and dangerous. He may be able to spray up to 10 feet away. I'll keep my distance.

Every few days, one of the skunks has occasion to stink up the neighbourhood. Maybe a night-prowling cat gets too close, or a raccoon challenges its access to a garbage bin; whatever it is makes us hurry to slam our windows and doors. The smell is sometimes strong enough to burn the back of my throat, and I look for a skunk nearby, without seeing it. It turns out that the animal could be blocks away.
" . . . the spray can cause irritation and even temporary blindness, and is sufficiently powerful to be detected by a human nose up to a mile down wind." (Wikipedia)

*Adult sizes are given, variously, from about 13 inches nose to rump, plus up to 10 inches for the tail, or 22.5 to 31.5 inches, tail included. The mother that we saw a month ago was somewhere in the middle range, and heavier-looking than tonight's visitor.


2 comments:

  1. Hey, we had a similar visitor the other night too, although he took about a dozen flashes in stride, not caring at all. Of course, we had a lot of stray sunflower seeds on the ground that the birds knocked off the deck early in the day, so he had motivation to stay.

    A few weeks ago, we walked outside early in the morning to the stench of a flat skunk; sure enough, one had been downed on the road near us. I thought that might be the end of our visits, but apparently the area family is deeper than one...

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  2. I think "flat" skunks smell worse than the live ones. Possibly because they discharged all their reservoir in one go.

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