LIFE'S BETTER IN THE MOUNTAINS

Monday, January 9, 2012

Skunk Below the Deck

Our bird feeders and water are mounted on our deck.  Since we do not want to attract raccoons, bears, or flying squirrels we move all the feeders to the garage every evening.  In winter we also dump the water out of the bird bath to prevent freezing.

Last week my husband was getting ready to dump the water when he looked down.  He called me outside.  What do you do when you see a skunk directly below you?  Well, you surely do not dump a pan of water on him or startle him in any way.  And if you have a blog, you grab the camera for a few photographs before the skunk ambles on his way.

The photographs are not especially good ones.  I didn't take a lot of time to change the settings for a nightime picture.  I both feared and wished the skunk would move on right away.  I'm posting them anyway since I suspect you have not looked directly down at a skunk.



He stands near a drain to eat leftover bird seed.  Thank goodness he is much too large to fit inside the drain.





 He moves away from the drain.





 NOTE to husband:  Get the leaf blower out and blow those seeds into the woods.


The skunk family is made up of eleven species, most of them common throughout the United States.  Known primarily for their lingering and noxious spray, they are also vectors of rabies.  That is especially a problem here in the southeastern US.

Dog owners are always fearful that their dogs will encounter a skunk.  A terrible skunk story came from my husband's co-worker.  She was dressed and ready for work.  She stepped outside to call the dog only to see the dog chasing a skunk right into the garage.  The skunk released its spray directly under her car!  Dog, car, garage and the woman reeked of the  skunk odor.  They never were able to completely rid the car of the odor.

We have been very fortunate so far, but we keep a skunk de-odor kit in a pail ready for immediate use.  While there are several remedies, the one with hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and mild liquid soap seems to work better than tomato juice, beer, or even commercially available products.  You can find it here.  We do take some precautions to avoid interaction with skunks.  We close the garage door at dusk when we bring in the bird feeders.  We never let the dogs off leash at night.  We wear headlamps and scan the driveway and street before taking the dogs out at night.

When you choose to live in the woods, you have to expect encounters with the animals whose habitat you are invading.  But we hope to continue to respect the skunks from afar and not up-close-and-personal.

23 comments:

Rudee said...

It is rather amazing that something so cute can create such a stink. I hope this particular visitor doesn't hang out too long.

PS (PSanafter-thought) said...

A skunk sprayed our dog, who was sleeping in the entry way. The entryway door to the outside was open. The regular door was open. Only the screen door was between our living room and the skunk spray. ...Fresh skunk smells like burning tires. Fortunately that was a long time ago. Some mornings in summer, we've seen many small holes in the grass. We've assumed that is skunk work. Do you know?

TSannie said...

That's the whitest skunk I've ever seen!

robin andrea said...

A good reminder about closing the garage door at dusk. It didn't occur to me that skunks would wander in there. I always expect to see a raccoon or squirrel. I just started taking in one of our bird feeders because the biggest bucks have learned how to tilt it and eat out of it like a pez dispenser. I do have a question for you: How do you feed your ground feeder birds? I scatter seed, but I know I'm feeding all kinds of other varmints out there.

Cheryl said...

Absolutely fascinating for me, as that is an animal we do not have here. I have read about them of course.

I realise the odour is without doubt to be avoided....but aren't they lovely animals to look at (only look at from a distance, you get my drift).


Tks for sharing......

dAwN said...

Wow~thats allot of work to put up and take down the feeders each day! I guess better than attracting critters.

Dog_geek said...

We have unfortunately had a number or run-ins with skunks - we had a whole family of skunks move in this fall. And PS is correct about the fresh skunk spray smelling like burning tires - the first time the dogs got sprayed, we didn't even know what it was! And also to PS: the many small holes in the grass sounds exactly like the work of skunks digging out grubs. It looks almost like someone came through with an aerater or rototiller during the night!

Ms. A said...

I don't live in the woods, however, skunks and possums are frequent visitors to the yard. I've had some near misses and hopefully it stays that way.

That's the fluffiest skunk I've ever seen. Tons of white.

Taradharma said...

your skunks are much whiter than ours. Our household was under attack when one of our dogs got sprayed on her face, ran in the house with wet spray all over her, and spread it everywhere.

Dawn dish washing detergent. You want something to remove the oils. I couldn't go to work for 2 days because I reeked no matter what. Everything in our home reeked. It was awful.

NCmountainwoman said...

Robin - We do not scatter any seeds on the ground. There are some seeds that fall to the ground, but we don't otherwise scatter any.

Tara - Actually, in this instance the non-grease-cutting soaps are better than something like Dawn. Dawn and other grease-cutting solutions degrade the peroxide. Shampoo is even worse. Softsoap or Ivory are the recommended ones.

Wayfarin' Stranger said...

I remember one evening in the Cades Cove campground, sitting on a picnic table watching two young racoons playing chase in the trees. I felt what I thought was a cat rubbing against my leg, as cats do, and looked down. Yep, a skunk begging for a handout just like a cat. You can bet I fed him! Jim

Vicki Lane said...

So glad you got the pics without anything untoward happening. We have lots of skunks about and had to use the peroxide/baking soda on one of our dogs last month. It really works!

troutbirder said...

A dangerous potential encounter indeed. Baron and I have had reason to apply your deskunker recipe. I can vouch for its efficacy. :)
Also a word of thanks regarding your kind words for Barb. She is doing very well in the recovery dept. and todays meeting with the oncologists at the Mayo went very well. She will be taking a pill to damper estrogen for 5 years. Good news all around.

Janet, The Queen of Seaford said...

I will remember your recipe for skunk, I have a feeling with all the other wildlife in our area we may need it. Great pictures.

George said...

We've encountered a skunk on our deck twice. Fortunately the skunk ambled off each time without leaving us with a 'souvenir'. Oh, the joys of living in the woods.

Jill said...

We have seen more skunks this year than ever before. We have even had them in our fenced yard right next to the house. Luckily, none of the dogs have been skunked. Great post!

Tipper said...

Neat photos! Do you believe my crazy husband likes the way skunk spray smells : )

merrilymarylee said...

Oooh, I'm going to save that remedy link.

My Indiana daughter's laundry room in her former house was in the basement. A possum crawled into her dryer vent and got stuck there. They didn't realize it until the smell and the mess in the dryer. . . well, let's just say they bought a new dryer and moved to a house with the laundry room on the first floor.

We have squirrels at the beach that look much like your skunk. That IS an awfully white one. You think your white squirrels have been fooling around?

Shelley said...

Your skunk story made me laugh. My mom loves to tell the story of me and my skunk to anyone who will listen. When I was a little girl, I had come in the house and told my mom I had a new kitty cat. I went back out to the porch and when she came out, I was petting my new "kitty cat." She screamed bloody murder, my kitty cat who was actually a skunk and he ran away upon hearing her screams. She couldn't believe that he didn't spray me or her, and also that he let me pet him! LOL!!

FOLKWAYS NOTEBOOK said...

Oh I know that dogs love to chase skunks. Usually a odor dosing will keep the dog at bay. But, yes, if you want the country you get the critters. Nice that you respect their territory. -- barbara

KB said...

I've never seen that species of skunk before. It's very handsome despite its stinkiness...

We always keep de-skunker on hand too. You never know when the dogs will find one. We've had a lot of dog-skunk encounters in our life but not many since moving to the mountains.

Good job getting the photos despite the imminent threat!

Busy Bee Suz said...

It's too bad they come with so many bad issues...they are kinda cute!
We have them on occasion and one of our cats had an encounter a few months ago. I only know this because the cat reeked on skunk for a few weeks!!! The smell is horrid; can't imagine my car smelling of that!
Great blog fodder living in the woods!

Barb said...

Well, the first thing I thought of when I saw the skunk was the dogs! Glad nobody (including property) got sprayed. I've had dog/skunk encounters in the past - not fun! Once, we were skiing down a trail at Copper Mt and saw one waddling across out path - we did a quick stop! That was the only one I ever saw at altitude, but it was a big one.