Monday, May 11, 2015

The Florida conundrum

While we struggle to find the diminutive eastern spotted skunk in the Appalachians, folks continue to provide observations from Florida.  We have previously reported on this blog of spotted skunk roadkill near Melbourne Beach, spotted skunks in a Florida cloths dryer vent, spotted skunks in Florida backyards with house cats, and now a spotted skunk digging under a Florida side walk.  You can see the full video provided to us by Judith Huff of Palm Beach ( here).

Perhaps even more perplexing, these observations were all in broad daylight!  Compare that to our more reclusive and nocturnal Appalachian populations and we are left with some very big natural history differences between Florida and interior US.  How do they survive in these suburban environments in Florida but seem to be relicts of protected forest lands in the Appalachians?  There is still so much we do not know about this species, so please keep the observations coming so we can continue to learn more.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Spotted skunk in my cloths dryer!

Guest post by Clemson University student Taz Lanini

WAUCHULA, FLORIDA -- When Tanya Ayers investigated a foul smell dispelling from her laundry room, she and her boyfriend, Mike Huffman, discovered a small skunk that had been staying in her dryer by climbing through the vent outside. The couple chased the animal away only to find another skunk living in a burrow in Tanya’s barn floor. Later, when the skunks returned, Tanya was ready with her video camera. 

We helped them confirm that these were Eastern spotted skunks!  Rarely encountered throughout their range outside of Florida, the fact that Mike and Tanya had managed to document a case in which spotted skunks were seeking shelter so extremely close to people is what made this encounter so unusual and interesting.

Mike and Tanya wanted to get rid of their dryer intruders, so Dr. Jachowski explained that spotted skunks are "very attracted to areas with openings and burrows.  So removing access to the dryer should cause the skunks to move along in search of new shelter."  He suggested putting a screen over the dryer vent to block the skunks from climbing inside Tanya’s dryer in the future.  We look forward to hearing what happens next!