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Skunks, skunks, skunks
September 19, 2011
by Jenni Sebora

Deer. Raccoons. Squirrels. Fox. Geese. These are among nature’s critters that like to visit our property, either on the outskirts, in the fields, or right on our yard. However, among the most unwelcome guest is the very identifiable black-and-white visitor – the skunk.

We have had our visits of skunk. In fact, a couple of years ago, there was a skunk hiding behind our freezer in our garage. When I discovered it, I was able to contain a yell with the commonsense knowledge that I did not want to scare it, for fear of the retaliation – the spray.

When I called for help to try and get our furry guest to leave, the exit plan included softballs and, of course, a garage that stunk, of course, like skunk.

We emptied the entire garage of its contents and scrubbed the floor and its contents down with different concoctions, including a mixture of baking soda, liquid soap, and hydrogen peroxide. I believe we then doused the area with white vinegar, and then bleach. Tomato juice is supposed to be another remedy for skunk spray.

Just last week, my twin brother was picking raspberries in his berry bushes that are near the river and low-and-behold the black-and-white critter was among the bushes, probably enjoying the leftover berries that fell to the ground. Needless to say, his large dogs tried to flush the skunk, but they got flushed instead. My brother and his dogs quickly took a dive into the nearby pond.

That’s not the last of the skunk stories, as my neighbor called last night with a warning, “There’s a skunk in my front yard. Make sure you close your shed and garage doors.”

Now, skunks are attracted to plants that grow berries, as well as open trash containers. To help avoid a skunk visit, clear open trash containers and plants that have berries, and keep the area well lit.

Now if you find or see a baby skunk (called a kit) however adorable it may look, avoid trying to get its attention, as baby skunks can spray early on.

Now, one may ask, “How do skunks eliminate such an odor?” My daughter asked this question. As fitting, skunks spray from a gland located around its rectum, and that spray can shoot up to 15 feet. Skunks don’t take much of a break either. They do not hibernate. They take longer naps in dens, but no hibernation.

This may be more than one wanted to know about skunks, but since we have had different visits from the skunk, it provided an opportunity for my children and me to learn more about it.

These are some other facts that we learned about skunks that my children thought fascinating: Mama skunks usually have a litter four to five kits per litter, and remember these kits can spray. Skunks live about two to four years in the wild, but if kept domestically (I am not sure who does this, but. . . .), they will live much longer, about 10 years. I did not want my youngest to know this fact, as she wants to be a vet when she gets older, and most likely would ask if she could have a skunk for a pet.

There you have it. All the skunk information that you need in case the critter “comes a knockin’ at your door,” or better yet, you are now equipped with knowledge of how to deter the visit in the first place.

The skunk has also provided my family with lots of stories to share, with it at the center of the plot.