Monday, December 25, 2017

Skunk in the bbq

Brian in San Marcos, California recently shared this photo of a cute little western spotted skunk his three small dogs found under their covered bbq grill.  Luckily his dogs got away with only a slight spray in the nose.  He has lived in the area over 25 years and this was his first sighting, further illustrating that these little guys can be in your backyard and are harmless.  So letting them be and enjoying having such a gentle tiny neighbor who is likely eating bugs and mice on your property in the middle of the night is a good thing.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Cougar vs. skunk

While not a spotted skunk, this video from Canada of a mountain lion approaching a stripped skunk is too cool not to post.  More evidence of the value of scent glands and how it allows these small carnivores to co-exist with larger carnivores on the landscape.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Skunks in Vegas

R.J. Rios in southwest Las Vegas, Nevada reached out to share his recent encounter with a western spotted skunk:

"After a stressful game 5 (go Astros!) my wife let our two Jack Russells out to pee when she saw something run across out back porch area. After some investigation I found a skunk hiding behind our pavers. Worried that he might be stuck in our back yard and clueless to how he got in (the entire yard is almost completely surrounded by a 5 ft cinder block fence I tried to set up a box to hopefully rescue the little guy and set him free. I was unable to catch him, but did snap a photo. Noticing his very weird markings I began to google and came across your blog."

Thanks for sharing R.J.!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Nice bear

Chuck Waggy in West Virginia has been working hard trying to capture spotted skunk kits for an ongoing radio tracking study.   Unfortunately, bears love his bait and were consistently springing the traps he set prior to skunk kits finding them.  Then, after a month of trying, this past week he finally found a kind bear that just sniffed his trap, without springing it.  As luck would have it, the trap captured a skunk kit a few hours later.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Opossums eat woodrats?

In West Virginia, while monitoring the den of a female spotted skunk with kits, Chuck Waggy observed a woodrat co-inhabiting the den.  This alone was unique, but what happened next was even more interesting.

Below is Chuck's account of the interaction:

At 0500 hrs. on June 24, a raccoon entered the skunk/woodrat den--first raccoon I had seen here.  The last pic I had of the wood rat at this den was at 23:50 hrs. on June 24.   At 00:38 hrs. on June 25 a possum (also first possum I had seen here) entered the skunk maternal /woodrat den.   It exited the den 48 seconds later chewing on something.  At first I thought it might be a spotted kit but size didn't match.  Woodrat pup or just some extraneous debris?  Those were the last pics I got of the woodrat and possum (and raccoon) but skunk brought a kit (much larger than what possum was munching on) out of that same den on June 29.

Overall, opossums are an exceedingly common yet poorly understood critter.  Relatively few studies of their biology and role in ecosystems have been conducted.  Chuck's observation suggests they could be important predators, not only to the nests of turkeys and other birds, but the dens of small mammals like the woodrats and potentially even the spotted skunk.