16 December 2006

Skunks

While I was putting the trash out Thursday night (Friday morning!) at 3:00 am I saw something run through my front gate and across the street. It was low to the ground, kept its tail straight out, and wasn't a cat. It went into the neighbor's yard and seemed to be joined by a white plastic bag. When I put the other bag on the curb they were getting into my neighbor's trash. This is what I saw:




And this is the "plastic bag"
The whiter skunk was bouncing all over the place and looked like a plastic bag caught by the wind in the morning darkness. Now I live in western Michigan, 7 blocks from downtown Grand Rapids, and these skunks are indiginous to Mexico and Honduras! Granted, there is a large Hispanic population here and these may be escaped family pets, but isn't it strange that there is one rare one. It doesn't look like any skunk I have ever seen. It is mostly black and the tip of its tail is white--just like the picture. The whiter one also has the fluffiest, biggest tail I have ever seen on an animal! It stands straight up and is like a balloon--much fuller than the one in the picture--hence looking like a plastic bag.

The hooded skunk ranges from southern Texas, Arizona and New Mexico southward through Mexico, to Costa Rica. They inhabit scrub and dry grassland areas.

The hooded skunk is similar in overall appearance to the related striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis). Their fur is slightly longer and softer than the striped skunk. The hooded skunk has two basic color morphs. In the more common one, which gives the species its common name, the back is entirely white, with a white tail and white cap on its head, and its underside, face and legs are black. In the second color pattern, the animal is entirely black with two narrow stripes, one on each side, that do not connect to one another. The underside of the tail may be mostly white. Like the striped skunk, the hooded skunk has a white stripe on the top of its nose, which is present in both color forms. Though they are about the same average length, males can weigh almost twice as much as the females. Females range in weight from 400 - 700 g, while males weigh 800-900 g.
Cute little buggers. They eat my cat food. So do possums and coons. My outside cats just sit there and watch them. I think they are also the ones responsible for digging up all the dead squirrels and birds I bury and making off with the carcasses.

2 comments:

Patricia W said...

When I lived in Texas I had a family of opossums that would eat the cat food. My cats would just watch them and they would watch the cats. But I was always worried there would be a scuffle.

I can't imagine anyone having a skunk for a pet though unless it had it's stinker removed and that seems like a lot of work to own a skunk.

About two weeks ago I was waiting with my daughter for the bus (it's still dark at 6:55AM) and saw something run from beside our house to across the street. I had my flashlight and shined it and it was a skunk! I really didn't know they lived in populated areas. We live in the city of Jackson!

brother jim said...

did you take that pic sis? jeeze! living on the edge huh?