Skunks: Cute and Smelly

Before I could open my eyes this morning, a heavy odor of skunk greeted my nostrils. My windows were closed but the fumes were permeating through the crevices of the house. I’ve heard a few people say they like the smell of skunk, but to me it’s extremely nauseating. Skunks spray when threatened, so what causes them to release their full potency precisely near where I’m sleeping or adjacent to the lone open window?

Despite the smell, I have to admit that skunks are really cute and quirky looking; remember the amorous Pepé Le Pew? A skunk’s dark black fur alongside the bright white creates a striking contrast. Last year at dusk, I spotted a bright, slow moving flash of white against the darkness of a pine tree in our yard. It took me a few moments to realize I was looking at a skunk. I grabbed my camera to videotape it and was shocked when another patch of white, and then another, entered the viewfinder. A total of three skunks were cavorting and eating spilled seed underneath the birdfeeders. I always thought skunks were solitary creatures — siblings maybe? They lived under our shed for four days and, as soon as the fireflies appeared, they would pop out one at a time to snack on the seed.

Several years ago, I discovered a young skunk inside a drainage pipe I was dragging across the lawn. Not only was this an unwelcome surprise, it was broad daylight. Not knowing how to get the skunk away from our home, I improvised by turning on the garden hose to a slow trickle and sticking the nozzle inside the end of the pipe. Within a few minutes, the skunk ambled out and walked away. Once it was safely out of view, I had to admit it was adorable.

Learn more about skunks by visiting National Geographic. Your comments are always welcome.

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