Beware of Skunks

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Beware of Skunks

Skunks are extremely adaptable and opportunistic animals. These fluffy, black and white, critters do have purpose.  They are scavengers that eat most anything, and a friend to farmers and gardeners alike.  These scavengers keep the ecosystem free of animal carcasses; eating a variety of garden pests, including mice, voles, beetles, various larvae, wasps and crickets. 

You don’t want to make friends with the skunks while you are camping!  Be diligent NOT leaving food or trash out, especially at night. Skunks are nocturnal and do not like the light. If you are truly concerned about skunks, and have power to spare, you can leave a bright flashlight ON outside of your tent to keep them away.

Skunks are similar to most animals. They defend themselves, and their young, when they are being cornered, or feel threatened. Skunks have litters of 1-7 young, in late April through early June. They do NOT eat your pet cat & dog as a meal/snack, although skunks can seriously harm your pets, and you! A normal skunk will simply run away from a human but rabid skunks will chase people and bite. Rabid skunks can be vicious!

The skunk’s spray is discussed frequently, in disgust. They expel a strong smelling, yellow-tinted, liquid, to ward off predators, through their anal glands. This is their natural self defense system.  Actually, “spraying” is a their FINAL defense method!  At first, they will spit, fluff its fur, shake its tail, and stamp the ground. If the intruder does not leave, the skunk will then lift its tail and spray its famous skunk perfume (odor). The odor is an irritant to the senses and has been documented to cause nausea, intense pain and temporary blindness besides of awful, pungent odor.

You can learn more about The Chemistry of Skunk Spray at <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QnSTOsIt1f8>

If someone DOES get sprayed there is a simple solution of a few common ingredients.  This solution will neutralize the skunk stench but Must be made on the spot. You can NOT make this odor eliminator in advance.

Here is the Neutralizing, Odor Eliminating Solution and how to use it, per the Nebraska Extension Wildlife

removing-skunk-odor.pdf (unl.edu)

“The formula is:

  • 1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide (fresh bottle)
  • 1/4 cup of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
  • 1-2 teaspoons of liquid dish soap

Mix in open container and used immediately. Never mix the ingredients in advance because oxygen released from the solution may cause a closed container to explode. The solution can be used on people or pets; avoid splashing the product in the eyes or mouth. Allow the solution to remain in the hair for five minutes before rinsing with water. Repeat as needed. Avoid using this solution directly on clothing as it may discolor the fabric. Add the mixture to the wash during he wash cycle to dilute it.”

Fun Facts about skunks

  • A skunk’s sulfuric spray has a range of up to 10 feet, and its odor can be detected up to 1.5 miles.
  • Skunks eat wasps and honeybees, and will often attack beehives.
  • Immune to snake venom, skunks are known to eat poisonous snakes like rattlesnakes.
  • Although skunks have very poor eyesight, they have excellent senses of smell and hearing.
  • A group of skunks is called a surfeit.

Have fun making memories in nature, while avoiding close contact with the skunks!

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