Saturday, July 16, 2011

Skunk

I’ve had quite a variety of animals visiting the yard this week. Part of the reason I have a yard is to make wildlife viewing a little easier. Animals are often hard to see because they’re screened by vegetation. They are most easily observed when they enter a clearing and the chance of your being present when they come into view is greatly increased if the clearing happens to surround your house.


Since there aren’t a lot of native plants that can tolerate repeated cuttings with the mower, my lawn is primarily of alien origin. It’s composed of various grasses, a few clovers and a wide variety of broadleaved plants. There are even some Eastern Red Cedars that survive continued mowing and have taken on a bonsai like quality. It may not be native, but it’s certainly diverse and that diversity enhances its attractiveness to wildlife.


Beetle grubs abound in the lawn and attract those species that feed on grubs. One common visitor is the Striped Skunk. This youngster is so intent on digging out grubs that he hasn’t noticed that I’ve come well within his spraying range.


Patterning on Striped Skunks is extremely variable. I’ve had individuals range from almost full white to those that are pure black. I prefer the skunks to have at least some white so I can see them when I walk through the yard in the dark. This one has a very attractive white cap. If this guy doesn’t look up soon he’ll be foraging beneath my boots.


I’ve been spotted and the skunk is quickly departing. When given a choice between running and spraying, skunks will usually run. Based on my experiences, it seems that running is a reflex response and spraying is a voluntary act. Since a skunk can only hold so much spray at one time, it makes sense that it would not be used unless absolutely necessary. I just hope I don’t run into the odd skunk that has a reflex spray response.

3 comments:

  1. :) Fun post. I didn't realize there are so many variances in skunk markings. That one was pretty neat. When we smell them while driving someone usually says, "ah, yes, fresh country air...." ;)

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  2. Hi, Lois. I always thought the "fresh country air" comments were exclusive to manure.

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  3. I love skunks. We had the most beautiful skunk that used to show up in our yard here on the outskirts of Rochester, MN. Its tail was full and bushy black with a white tip that was simply elegant. We also had a skunk join us in our campsite on our honeymoon trip on St Joe's peninsula in Florida way back in 1983. It minded its own business rooting for grubs while we cooked just feet away. I am one of those odd people who find skunk smell almost pleasant - at least in small doses! Your skunk is lovely with its white cap.

    cheers,
    Wilma

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