[NAFEX] Skunks good or skunks bad?

list at ginda.us list at ginda.us
Sun May 9 09:08:05 EDT 2004

I live in suburbia.  The answer might be different in a more rural or 
urban setting.

Skunks are good because:
They are pretty to watch
They eat grubs in the lawn
They eat small rodents, caterpillars, beetles, and ground-dwelling wasps

Skunks are bad because:
They sometimes knock over trash cans
They smell bad when your neighbor's dog chases them.
The holes in the lawn (where they've removed grubs) look ugly, and tell 
you neighbors you have grubs even before the grass dies.
They eat earthworms (but there always seem to be more earthworms)
They eat bird eggs and frogs and toads.
They carry rabies, and a rabid skunk is dangerous.

Skunks in my experience are pretty even-tempered, and I would have been 
very surprised if you and the lambs have been sprayed.  I have led my 
children close to a mother skunk trailing babies without incident.  (It 
looked at first like a skunk with a two-foot tail, they followed her in 
a tight, undulating line.  Very cute.)   Skunks usually warn before 
they shoot.  They are also lazy.  As best as I can tell, the skunks 
mostly stay out of my garden because they don't like crawling over the 
shallow stone wall that surrounds it.  I dignify the structure by 
calling it a "wall", it's just a ring where I dumped all the stones I 
dug out of the garden.  But it's enough to dissuade the skunks - who 
are quite capable of climbing it if they cared to.  Although skunks are 
omnivores, and do like the occasional berry, I think they are a minor 
positive to my gardening efforts.


On May 9, 2004, at 8:36 AM, Joe and Ellen Hecksel wrote:

> Happy Mother's day, all!
> On the whole, are skunks an advantage to have around or not?
> It is a beautiful, magical morning here on the "farm".  It rained last 
> night.  The sun is shining.  You can still see the mist hanging when 
> you walk under the trees and the sun's rays turn into ethereal beams.  
> Very peaceful.
> I was out at 7:00 this morning feeding our two bottle lambs.  I 
> usually feed the lambs at 4:00 because I have to be at work before the 
> sun rises.  So it is a real treat to walk around early in the morning.
> While walking back across the pasture I saw a skunk loping about like 
> he/she owned the place.
> Sheep are not the smartest of critters and some are dumber than 
> others.     The bottle lambs were following me back to the barn.  
> Bottle lambs nearly always have bonding disorders.  "Are you my 
> mother?"    So these lambs were right under foot.  A real tripping 
> hazard.  You have to walk right smart and keep an eye on the little 
> dudes so you don't step on one or inadvertently give one a solid kick. 
>  I was actually pretty close to this skunk before I noticed it.
> At this point in the story I am sorry to disappoint those of you who 
> know what should have happened.  No, the lambs did not see the skunk 
> and  rush up to it.  "Hey Mom!  Got milk???"   No, the skunk did not 
> spray us all. Sorry to disappoint.
> ************************************************
> Part of what made this morning magical is that I saw TWO Baltimore 
> Orioles and TWO cat birds and one Tyrant King Bird (or Bee Eater). 
> These are not particularly common birds around here.  I don't know if 
> they are passing through on their way north or if they are setting up 
> shop.  I thought it was a little early for the Orioles.  The pairs of 
> birds seemed to be skirmishing for territory.
> I am tickled to see the birds.  I think part of the increase in 
> diversity is due to the increasing diversity of the local 
> habitat...particullarly the vertical "structure".  I also think the 
> collapse of the Starling population helped.
> -Joe
> "You never see a fish on the wall with its mouth closed."
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