Friday, February 5, 2010
Oh, Don't Be a Skunk
Do you like skunks? I didn't think so. They've earned a bad rap simply because of their fascinating defense tactic--spraying the enemy with that horrible scent. As a child, I was terrified of being sprayed by skunks, so I kept my distance. Since then, I've gotten over this fear of skunks. Skunks would really rather not spray at all, and they can only squirt out that delectable odor ten feet or so.
I was out for a spin around the Villa Park Flood Control Basin yesterday when I came across this Striped Skunk (Mephitis mephitis) nosing around a grassy area. Skunks are generally nocturnal, so seeing one out in the middle of the afternoon was about the last thing I was expecting. After watching him for a few minutes, I developed a hypothesis as to why he was out foraging in the afternoon. One of his back legs was injured, making walking difficult. The injury surely hampered his foraging ability, which forced him to be out during the day.
The skunk was surprisingly confiding; he barely glanced up at me as I photographed him from about ten feet away. After several minutes, he trundled off into the brush. I couldn't help but snicker at my old fear of skunks--they aren't the bloodthirsty, spray-happy villains I thought they were. I propose that February fourth be named National Hug a Skunk Day. Wonder how quickly that will catch on.