Sunday, July 1, 2012

Corralitas Drive: Disabled Skunk Mom?

Photo: Diane Edwardson, June 27, 2012.  The baby skunks were herded around the yard by this small limping skunk.  (Click on photos to enlarge.) 

This skunk was limping badly on both her left front and rear legs.  She seemed to be walking on the lower part of her hind legs, rather than her hind feet.  Her tail appeared to be broken and at half-mast.  She made no attempt whatsoever to threaten to spray me.  
Photo: Diane Edwardson, June 27, 2012.  I did not want to get close enough to test whether she was capable of spraying.  However, I did zoom in with the camera because I could not tell if it was a fresh injury.  It looks like an old injury, as there was a bald patch on her butt.  I'll speculate she was the victim of a dog attack quite some time ago.
Photo: Diane Edwardson, June 27, 2012.  The small skunk is about the same size as Stampy.  Stampy seems to act as the decoy to draw attention in the opposite direction from the disabled skunk and the babies. 

I don't know whether Stampy or this skunk is the mother of the babies, but this skunk seems to act like mom.  It could be that since the disabled skunk is not able to defend herself, she is hanging around with her sibling, Stampy, and able to act as a babysitter.  When the babies were romping around in the leaves in front of me, she got them in line and herded them away from me.  I watched the same behavior on several nights in the past week. 

Last year, the mother would come through the yard first, spray a warning blast and leave the babies to fend for themselves in our yard.  We rarely saw the mother with the babies.