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Skunks May Be Cute, But They Are Wild Animals
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11 April 2016   Lynne LaMaster
Photo by Dean Simmons

They’re awfully, cute, even if a bit odiferous. But, it’s important to remember that they are also wild animals, which are uncanny at finding human food, garbage and pet food.

Jenn Winters-Ashcraft met a furry black and white friend unexpectedly this weekend in Prescott. She wrote on Facebook, "This just now! I was trying to leave dog food & made a doggy house & bed for a lost doggy in my neighborhood and this!! Lol!! ...That didn't work out too well, was wondering who was eating all that dog food I left lol!”

Photo by Jenn Winters-Ashcraft

Dean Simmons, local animal lover and handiman pointed out that, “Skunks will eat anything.”

Simmons, who frequently is called upon to relocate skunks, states, "the best advice I can give to anybody, is just to stay away from them. They are still a wild animal and could possibly be carrying diseases.

Simmons also offered a reminder that if one is sprayed at close range, it can cause difficulties with sight and breathing.

If you have a close encounter with a skunk and can’t see or breathe easily, or are bitten by the animal, you should seek medical care immediately. Skunks are a known carrier of rabies.

According to PetMD.com, "The “spray” is a secretion produced by the skunk’s anal glands. It can travel up to 15 feet and usually hits its mark. The fluid is a mixture of seven volatile compounds — consisting of thiols, thioacetates, and a methylquinoline. The thiols are the big contributors to the repellant odor, while the thioacetates help to make the smell last a long time — especially when water is added, which is why pets continue to smell even after a traditional bath."

Unfortunately, pets - especially dogs - are frequently unable to resist the temptation to go see the skunk, and often find themselves sprayed as a result. What to do? Well, if your dog has long hair, this might be the time for a haircut. But, after that, it’s time for a bath.

According to MythBusters, here’s the best way to remove skunk odor is the following recipe from the Dummies.com site:

Here's the de-skunking recipe you need for any-sized dog: Combine 1/2 quart hydrogen peroxide, 1/8 cup of baking soda, and 1 teaspoon liquid dishwashing soap in an open container. Draw a tepid bath and put your dog in it. Apply the solution liberally throughout your dog's coat and suds him up well (to the skin).

In the meantime, don’t leave people or pet food out, make sure your garbage can doesn’t tip, and when you see the cute, little, black and white critters, don’t get too close!

Photo by Lynne LaMaster

Interesting factoid: Skunks are a favorite meal for horned owls.