Thursday, June 23, 2011

our visitor whom I smelled... a BABY picture (so CUTE!!!)

Was a striped skunk, Mephitis mephitis.

baby skunk photo by AnimalPhotos

And a lovely, snowy scene with adult.

From the almighty Wiki and it's most delightful commons.
This pic was taken near Yellowstone.

Apparently, due to its strong scent, no mammals are
particularly interested in eating skunks.

Raptors, on the other hand, will.

They used to be hunted for their pelts, but skunk fur went out of vogue,
happily for the skunks, I'm sure.

Also, according to the University of Michigan
Museum of Zoology's Animal Diversity Web (ADW),
90% of skunks die during their first winter.

Apparently, winter is ROUGH, out there.

"Striped skunks are nocturnal, sleeping during the day in underground burrows and emerging around dusk to search for food. They prefer to use burrows made by other animals of equal size or natural burrows under tree stumps or buildings. They use their long front claws to build their own den if necessary." ADW.

This nocturnal pattern explains why both here in the foothills, and back in San Diego years ago,
I typically smelled a passerby each night at 9 p.m.

Just starting their "day," on a regular route.

So cute.

The more I learn about wildlife the more I realize how TERRIBLY IMPORTANT are those animals that dig burrows. Like ground squirrels in grasslands.

San Joaquin kit fox need them (well, certainly if the ground is at all hard), California tiger salamanders need them, red-legged frogs need them (all 3 species use squirrel burrows to escape the summer time heat), golden eagles need to eat them, etc.

Part of habitat suitability analysis for San Joaquin kit fox is whether or not these guys are present.

Kind of a lynchpin in the ecosystem, yet the frequent target for extirpation.

I guess, like the skunk or the ground squirrels, you don't have to be popular with everyone to be terribly important to many.



  1. So they pong all the time, but pong even more when they spray?

    Either way, how cute is that kit!

  2. I was quite impressed with your blog plus any animal must be really desperate to eat a skunk, raptors probably cant smell or taste very well lol ;)

  3. So, do the baby skunks have the ability to spray? If so, how does one go about handling them safely??

    I've needed to trap some adults, using a humane trap, but had no idea how to handle the capturee without getting blasted. Due to my ignorance, and the fact that he was setting up residence under the house, I was unhappily forced to use lethal methods.

  4. @Snail: apparently they "pong" all the time. I've never been around one that sprayed, but I imagine it gets in their fur and stays. Thanks for the new vocab word.
    @theozarkian: I don't know about baby skunks & spraying. My initial GUESS is not when v. young as protection is conducted by parents. Do you have a "wildlife rescue" group near where you live? They are VERY experienced re: getting wildlife out of strange places in a humane way. Seriously--wizard like. Even if there isn't one, you may be able to call an existing one in a big city and ask them. Wildlife Rescue in San Diego was the BOMB.
    @laura k I KNOW. And they have the cutest walk.

  5. I love your skunk pic. That baby is so tiny. I hope it lived. Great blog! I found it through Emma.

  6. @ Ginny mo: So glad you liked it. =) It's actually not my skunk pic (see small attribution under photo to AnimalPhotos). I am a firm believer of in the face of no data (the fate of that skunk) think happy thoughts (lived a long, and happy life). =)


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