Closer to Home: The Striped Skunk

Ok, I’ll admit, there are some things that I wish weren’t really…well, quite so close to home. In the midwest, there are several species that are known to carry rabies, and in our area, skunks top the list. The three counties we have lived in since moving to this state top the list of rabies cases every year, which gives me even more of a pause when I see these critters.

So imagine my surprise when on an impromptu mid-afternoon walk with the dog, we saw a small, ferret-like head pop out of the creek nearby. The dog went ballistic. Not trying to get at the skunk, but to get away from it. He remembered his buddy getting sprayed (multiple times, I might add) and the one time he tried to play with one (yeah, that went really well), and wanted absolutely nothing to do with the creature in front of us.

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To be fair, the skunk was apparently only getting a drink from the creek before it meandered its way along, but for a tense few moments, it stood on the bridge between us and freedom, not three feet away, calmly watching us as I snapped a few pictures and retreated to a safe distance with the Other Half to wait it out. It hesitatingly took a few steps toward us, stamping its feet for good measure, before hopping off the bridge and continuing on its way.

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This was probably not the most hilarious encounter with a skunk I’ve ever had (have you ever seen a skunk run?), it was the closest wild encounter I’ve had. They’re pretty confident in their native range (though I can’t imagine why) and are willing to live pretty close to civilization. Striped skunks are the most common of the North American skunk species you’re likely to see in the wild, though others you might see include hooded skunks in the southwest, hog-nosed skunks, and spotted skunks.

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The business end. Not touching that with a 10-foot pole.

What about you? Have you ever met a skunk and lived to tell the tale?


2 responses to “Closer to Home: The Striped Skunk

  1. Several years ago, I was on my way to a baby shower and parked the car a few houses away from the party. I got out of the car and saw that walking down a quiet, rural street, right along the edge of the street was a skunk, in broad daylight. He was just ambling along about 10 feet from me. He wasn’t aggressive at all – and just continued on his way. I have seen evidence in my yard that they are here, but have never seen one.

    • Oh, wow. I can only imagine where he thought he was heading! We don’t see them all that often at our current house, but we sure smell them after dark quite a bit.

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