Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A Skunk Info Extravaganza! AND--How to Deodorize SKUNK


Hi Donna,
The wump wump sound you describe is most likely the thumping noise the skunk does with its front paws on the ground as a warning when they feel threatened. Most times this is enough of a deterrent but when it fails they spin around , sometimes lift their back legs off the ground , raise the tail and spray . This is totally a last resort though.

Most likely a Great Horned Owl if the skunk was removed from the area and probably not too far depending on the size.

A big male Skunk can be a pretty big catch for an owl to handle.

I get calls for Skunks out east on Long Island and in the Bronx usually in very residential neighborhoods. A common call includes them dogging a den under a shed or deck in a backyard and the homeowner can't let their dog out. This one was probably showing up for whatever food falls from the feeder when times get tough.


A skunk performs a handstand, a warning that a musky shower may follow. They’d rather be left alone than spray. Courtesy photo

Spring is the time for skunks and other native animals make nests for their young. It’s also when many needless wildlife casualties occur.


WARNING! WARNING! Skunk is thumping her front feet on the ground and her tail is raised. Badger is about to be very very sorry he met her!

A Western Spotted Skunk assumes the position at...
"Behavior: This skunk will climb trees to flee predators. Its black and white coloration warns predators to stay away. If the warning is ignored, a spotted skunk will lower its head, stamp its front feet and assume a “handstand” position. At this point, it raises its tail and accurately sprays a foul smelling fluid up to 20 feet!"

Skunk Defensive Secretion, Photograph by William Wood.
Neutralize Skunk Spray: History and Chemistry of Skunk Musk
William F. Wood, Department of Chemistry
Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA 95521

Skunks use a highly odoriferous secretion to deter predation: A yellow oil composed of thiols and thioacetate derivatives of these thiols. This secretion is stored in two walnut sized glands with openings in the anus. When alarmed or attacked, a skunk can direct this spray several feet. At high concentrations the secretion causes nausea and retching and will act like tear gas if the liquid gets in the eyes. At lower concentrations it has a very foul odor. The human nose can detect skunk spray thiols at about 10 parts per billion. More information about skunk spray can be found in the following links.

· How to remove skunk odor. Household chemicals that neutralize the odor of the defensive chemical from pets and from inanimate objects.

· Chemistry of skunk spray. A chemical explanation of the molecules in skunk defensive secretion and their transformation to non-odoriferous molecules.

· The History of Skunk Defensive Secretion Research. A review of the history and chemistry of research on skunk spray.
· Skunk Pictures. Several pictures of skunks.

· Living with skunks. Examples of coexisting with wild skunks and how to make them move to a new home.


Then there is the ---

Dragoo Institute for the Betterment of Skunks and Skunk Reputations

AND---View a documentary on skunks called: Is that skunk? which premiered nationally on PBS Nature Sunday, 25 January 2009.


1 comment:

cvinzant said...

neat skunk info. i finally watched the NATURE documentary on skunks from a few weeks back, which was awesome