Sunday, November 15, 2015

Corralitas Drive: Skunk Tales

Photo: Diane Edwardson, November 14, 2015.  Last night at dusk, my dog surprised a skunk in my yard.  (Click on photos to enlarge.)

I know better than to let my dog run off leash in my yard in the waning light.  Luckily, we think it was the skunk that pals around with my neighbor's semi-feral cat.  The skunk puffed out its coat to look larger, but did not turn the business end toward my dog, who was barking really close to it - practically nose to nose.  When the skunk did finally fire a warning shot it was not pointed at the dog. 

I know skunks have really bad eyesight, but this one was just not right. It proceeded to hang around for the next hour, stamping around in the leaf litter.  Usually they take off once there has been a threat, especially if it's followed by a photo shoot.   Which is why we think it's the semi-feral cat's buddy.
Photo: Diane Edwardson, September 20, 2015.  Yup, that's the semi-feral cat's skunk buddy, "hiding" in the bushes waiting for dinner.  The neighbor does not leave cat food out for the cat, because she doesn't want to feed all the neighborhood wildlife.  But the skunk and the cat pal around together and apparently have quite a system to get food.
Photo: Diane Edwardson, September 20, 2015.  The semi-feral cat has questionable social skills - even his own brother, who is an indoor outdoor cat - hates him.  The cat will insist he's starving.  The neighbor puts a small amount of kibble out on the steps for him, pets the cat and goes inside for ten minutes and returns to pick up the food.  

The cat eats a few bites, then lies down on the stairs and the skunk, who's been "hiding" in the bushes nearby, comes out to eat the rest of the kibble.   (We think they do this routine at a few neighbors' houses, since we know the cat is fed by several.)  The neighbor chases the skunk off the food, who ambles up the stairs reluctantly.  The cat looks bored and sometimes follows the skunk up the stairs.  If the weather is too hot - the skunk just goes over and lies down in the damp dirt (photos above).  

Alternatively, the neighbor actually hangs out with the cat while he eats, so the skunk has no opportunity to get to the cat food.

The other night, the front door was wide open, the neighbor chased the skunk off the cat food.  The skunk, who never makes an attempt to spray the neighbor, reluctantly climbed up the stairs, but slipped off the top step, rolled down the stairs in slow motion and landed at the neighbor's feet.  The neighbor was too stunned to jump out of the way.  The skunk did not explode. It just moseyed off in a different direction.  The cat didn't move.

The cat is never phased by the skunk.  In fact they seem to travel together.  The cat usually tries to get a second meal later - and you always have to check to see if the skunk is lying in wait nearby.  There's always another wildlife adventure on Corralitas.

Click here for all our skunk posts.