A skunk is a skunk is a skunkBy TIM BEELAND,
Judging from what I saw — and smelled — on my drive to work Monday morning, I surmised that in the battle between skunks and motor vehicles, the skunks seem to be getting the short end of the stick. Then at the office, thinking this over abundance of skunk road kill must mean their mating season has begun, I turned to the all powerful Google to see if that might indeed be true.
According to Google, “February through March is mating season for skunks, and that translates into ‘skunk smell.’ The stink occurs when males try to court females who may not be in the mood.” If that be the case, I’m pretty certain that the boy skunks on Pine Grove Road are getting an early start and the girl skunks are really playing hard to get this year. Same goes for Highway 21 between Sebastopol and Forest.
In my Google search, I also found a Mississippi State Extension Service article from 2015 that says the skunk population in Mississippi was on the rise that year. And kind of like the skunk’s tail, which is most times on the rise, I think the population still is, as well, this year.
The Extension Service article says that both striped and spotted nose skunks are found in Mississippi and that they are “among the most common and widely distributed mammals in North America.” It goes on to say that “skunks are solitary and typically nonaggressive, and they have not historically been a serious threat to homeowners, agricultural producers and other wildlife.”
Our Business Development Specialist here at The Times, Emily Jackson, said last week she had a skunk under her house and it apparently was aggravated by her dogs and raised its tail before coming out. She says it was hard to breath for a while.
At our house we seem to have an abundance of the critters. There is a small scraggly-looking skunk that has dinner from the cat food bowl on our back porch “every” evening between 6:00 and 6:30. It is always on time and it always riles up the two Chihuahuas who are typically reclining on their bed in front of the heater by the back door. I don’t think the dogs’ awakening, however, has anything to do with the scent because the raccoon who also likes to eat with us regularly causes the same reaction from in front of the heater.
One night this past week the dog alarm went off and I arose from my spot at the kitchen table to see which caller had come for dinner first. It was the skunk. The cats that we feed — along with the skunk and coon, and an occasional possum —were not ours, but they are now I suppose, and they are a bit on the wild side. Except for this huge, fluffy, gray Tom that likes to have his belly scratched but will turn on you if you try to pick him up, but that’s a story for another day.
Anyway the skunk was eating, its tail bobbing high in the air, and the stripped gray kitten was swatting at that tail like it was a toy from the dollar store. In an instance I figured that was gonna be bad news for the back porch but it didn’t seem to bother the skunk at all. Now if I were to do what the kitten was doing, I expect I would be taking a tomato juice bath, even though I don’t know whether that actually removes the smell or not.
Like Emily, we also have a regular “under the house skunk” but I don’t think it ever really sprays, but it does smell like he might have a lady friend somewhere nearby he is trying to impress. In fact, my wife, Danny, was awakened several times in the wee hours of the morning last week with symptoms similar to those Emily had suffered from, and I assure you she was not impressed.
In conclusion, I’m not certain how many babies are typically born in a litter of skunks, but it is worth noting that last year we were sitting on the front porch and noticed what looked like one big ole skunk running up the road. Upon further inspection — close up inspection — it was five babies — Kits they are called — that moved in a pack so close that it appeared to be only one. They were pretty cute, but, you know a skunk is a skunk is a skunk!