Friday, July 14, 2017

Corralitas Drive: Urban Skunk Kits Making Themselves At Home

Photo: Corralitas Neighbor #1, July 11, 2017. A neighbor, upon turning on the bathroom light at 3 AM, was surprised to find a young skunk asleep in the  bathtub.  The neighbor has no idea how it got into the tub.  It made it self quite at home on a washcloth and left its calling cards near its "bed."

The neighbor surmised the young skunk came in earlier in the evening, while the door was open and fan on.  It must have wandered in and seeking relief from the relentless heatwave, found its way into the cool bathtub.  "Actually, it seemed totally content and not at all agitated by my presence." 

As for removing the skunk, the neighbor continued, "I got two large old beach towels, put on my gardening gloves and dropped the towels over it and quickly wrapped them around and carried it out the back door and by that time there was definitely a skunk odor in the towels. I loosened the towels and came back inside. End of story. I now use my fire screen in the door when I leave it open." 

Photo: Corralitas Drive Neighbor #2, July 7, 2017.  At least one skunk kit has a taste for the plentiful rubber tree fruit around the yard.  

A Corralitas neighbor sees the baby skunks pass through the yard daily.  At least one skunk kit, or as the neighbor refers to them, "skitten" routinely pauses at the open door looking to be invited in (not going to happen).  The neighbor's cats are so complacent, "they don't even growl when the kits come by, let alone when the skunks try to come in the door!"

The other day, I got a text from Corralitas Neighbor #2, who was lying on the couch with the door open in the midday heat.  The neighbor "felt a very smooth little tongue licking her big toe."  Knowing it wasn't a cat or dog, she looked down and was surprised to see a skunk kit kissing her toe.  Unfortunately, the neighbor couldn't reach her cell phone to shoot a photo without standing up.  At which point the little skunk kit made a hasty retreat for the door.  The skitten was really sucking up in the hope of some relief from the heat.  

The same neighbor has told skunks trying to enter the house, in a calm voice, "No, no, no you can't come in.  Away with you."  The skunks go without argument. Sometimes you have to get up slowly and walk calmly toward the skunk while telling them, in a calm voice, to leave.  Skunks don't see well.  As long as you stay calm and make no sudden movements, they have no need to spray. 

No, neither neighbor feeds their pets outside.  Nor do they leave food around.  The rubber tree fruit attracts all types of urban wildlife.  It's hard to control the rubber tree fruit, even if you sweep daily.  If there is food a skunk wants, it will do almost anything to get to it.  I've seen skunks move rocks significantly larger than themselves, in broad daylight, to get into a yard.  I've also watched them squeeze through a single chain link in a fence (skunks are mostly fur).   

If wildlife wants to use your yard as a thoroughfare, it's not worth the trouble of trying to stop them.  Skunks and raccoons will move rocks and big pots, dig up plants, dig under fences to get back on their routine path.  It's better to find a way to coexist with them so you know where they come through the fence rather than be surprised in the middle of the night.  Jade plants are resilient enough to place near openings in the fence where urban wildlife insists on using a path. 

Don't feed your pets outside.  Keep your all your pets' vaccinations up to date.  Do not attempt to feed or pet wildlife.  Be sure you throw away any and all food trash (like from a BBQ or fruit fallen from trees) directly into a the large City trash bin and be sure the lid is tightly closed. 

Additionally, it is a myth that seeing a skunk in the daylight means it's sick or injured.  Corralitas skunks are out in the middle of the day.  We see them frequently, even when the dog is in the yard.  

Click here for all our skunk posts.