A Stranger In The Night
Several weeks ago, I was awakened in the middle of the night by our dog, Chance, barking. I grabbed up a flashlight and went out to see what had him so upset. As i got to the end of the ramp, I flicked the light to the left, and just caught sight of a skunk as it slipped beneath our trailer through a hole it had dug. The next night, I had a couple of containers full of gravel from the driveway sitting by the hole, and i sat out in the truck waiting for the skunk to come out. Sometime after midnight he obliged. The first I knew he had shown up was a crunching sound. He was cleaning up some spilled cat kibble. I waited til he went under the truck and I could no longer see his shadow before slipping out to dump the containers of gravel on the hole, effectively sealing the skunk out.
The next night, I sat out in the truck and waited to see if the skunk would come back. Some time around 1 or 2 AM, he finally showed up. Tonight, my manx cat was sitting nearby, and was watching the skunk intently. Suddenly he decided to pounce...But he didn't get half the distance required to reach the skunk when the skunk spun around and pointed its tail end towards the cat. Wooley slammed on the brakes, did an about face and made tracks in the opposite direction...yet the skunk never sprayed. It was apparently quite content in its ability to threaten of attackers, and it apparently did not feel Wooley was serious. I have since learned by researching on the internet that most skunks won't spray unless they feel they are in a life and death situation, and the only thing that will save them is to spray. I find it fascinating that a skunk "knows" it has a serious reputation, so that all it need do is warn most creatures and it will be safe...And most creatures, even those who have never seen a skunk, like my cats, "know" they better heed that warning.
Tonight, I went out to bring Balou in. Normally he will come running when called, eager to come in for the night. But tonight he wanted to stay out a bit longer. My step dad adores Balou, and ever since Patches disappeared, he gets very anxious when Balou doesn't come in at night. So, I headed down the ramp, intent on grabbing him and getting back inside because it was chilly out there. I was talking to Balou, but when I got to the end of the ramp I suddenly heard an odd noise. It had been several weeks since I had sat outside to watch for the skunk, and I wasn't thinking about him at all, yet there he was, stamping his feet at me. I realized he was warning me back, so I said "hello there" and backed up a few steps. He seemed content with that and went back to his dinner. Even when I brought my camera out to get a picture of him, he wasn't the least bothered by the flash like I thought he would be. He is a young skunk (I say he but I do not know if it is male or female)...about the size of my female siamese mix, who is smaller than the other cats out there. I figure this will be his first winter. Soon the cats will be going back into their room and outdoor pen, But I will still leave food out for him, since I am also leaving food out for a feral cat that has been coming to eat and drink for several months now.
I was advised to kill it or have it killed, because they are known, major carriers of rabies. All my animals are vaccinated against rabies, and this one skunk has never offered to spray let alone harm any of them. He seems quite peaceable and I can't bring myself to justify killing him.