Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Dear Mom,

If I lived near, I would come over for a visit and whisk you away in my car somewhere we could get yummy food, where they wouldn't make us feel rushed, even if we stayed over two hours and they knew the tip wouldn't be more than $5.

If I lived near, I would wash any dishes in your sink, put away your Christmas ornaments, and anything else sitting around driving you crazy.

If I lived near, I would make a hair appointment for you, somewhere that cost more than $30 to be sure we could trust them, then drive you there, read a book while you were pampered and happily pay the bill, because we all know how important a good haircut is.

If I lived near, I would bring you home with me for a few days so you could escape the skunk annoyance going on, literally under your feet. Not for ten days, but for a few, because we all know the old adage about fish and company.... but I know you could do with a break from it all.

If I lived near..... but I don't. I live 1500 miles away and it's winter and the last time I flew to Denver in March they shut down the airport and I took peanut butter sandwiches to the airport, not sure even then I could fly home, so I hesitate to fly out.

But I can do this - offer some skunk encouragement. You may already know it anyway, but here it is, just to read over and savor, and know, just like Scripture says, this too will pass (hopefully away).


Do skunks hibernate?
Skunks do not hibernate like bears. Instead they take long naps in dens with other skunks. They will wake to look for food on warm days, and will need to come out of the den at least once to empty their scent glands. This would explain why folks sometimes see, or smell, skunks during the winter months.

Striped skunks are found in Canada, the United States, and Mexico. They are easy to recognize because of the white stripes that go from their noses to their tails. The rest of their bodies are black. Skunks are famous for their smell. If a skunk is in danger, it will spray an awful smelling liquid called musk. The skunk gives a warning before doing this. It will stamp its front feet and growl. It's best to get away then! Skunks can hit their targets from 12 feet away. The odor will stay on the sprayed thing for days.

Skunks live in woods, grasslands, and deserts. They make underground dens that they line with leaves. Sometimes they use dens that have been left by other animals. If skunks live near towns, they like to live under buildings or somewhere that they can be dry and safe. When they hibernate, they plug up the opening of the den so that their heat stays in and some of the cold stays out. (Maybe you need to start tossing ice cubes under that house of yours!)

They are omnivorous. They eat insects, mice, rats, birds, eggs, and even fruit. They are from 13-18 inches long and weigh from 3-10 pounds. Their size is about the same as a house cat. Skunks are nocturnal. If they live near towns, skunks love to get into garbage cans for dinner. They sleep during the day. (Note: this does not sound to me like they eat ladies, or humans, at all. However, they may be feasting on the mice that are likely near your house.)

Striped skunks mate anytime between February and March. The female is pregnant for 2-3 months and gives birth to 2-10 babies. The babies are born with a small amount of black and white hair. They follow in a line behind their mothers and leave her when they are about eight months old. (Note: if you do not want a line of them in your yard, it sounds like now is the time to get rid of them, before any hanky panky on their part worsens the problem!)

During the summer, the male skunk usually stays by himself. The females travel with their babies until they get old enough to go off by themselves. Females will hibernate during the winter in the same den with other females. There is usually only one male that hibernates with the group of females. (So I don't know who you caught, but it sounds like there are more where that one came from! Mr. Bug Man will be earning his money!)

When fall comes, skunks fatten up a little for hibernation. Sometimes the animals will move to colder weather. Scientists agree that skunks go into torpor [like bears] instead of true hibernation. The body temperature and heart beats go down, but not as low as hibernation. Even though some skunks seem to stay in a deeper hibernation for about one hundred days, this changes depending on the skunk and where it lives. Mostly, the skunk will go into torpor for shorter times, wake up when it gets a little warmer, and even go outside. They might eat something and then go back into torpor. With torpor, skunks can wake up when there is a warmer day in winter. If they were true hibernators, they would sleep right through these single days because waking up takes longer for them.
As a last resort you might consider flipping your days and nights, awake when they are, and sleep during the day, when they do so. I've heard, "If you can't lick them, join them!"

P.S. I'd invite you to the lakehouse for a stay with me, but the previous owners tell us there's a skunk living under the neighbor's shed. The last time we pulled up we caught sight of him high-tailing it across the lawn, so the lakehouse might not be exactly where you'd want to go to escape right about now.


Becky said...

Just YIKES!!

Lynne said...

Years ago when we lived in Kentucky, we had a skunk problem. I walked out the front door one night, only to be faced with a mother and a line of babies standing right on our porch. Our dog got out and chased them, with the inevitable results.

A neighbor across the street decided to help us. He came out at night with his gun. We heard the shot. The next morning, we found a blown-up black and white soccer ball next to our house.

Bev said...

Lynne - I cant even tell you how hard your comment made me laugh!

Gretchen said...

Oh dear Lord, not good. Not good a-tall.

Barb said...

I'm laughing my head off at Lynne's comment. What a helpful neighbor!

Hysterical. :-)

All this information, combined with the cute photo you posted, has made me feel quite friendly towards skunks. LOL

I love the first part of this post too - what you'd do if you lived closer to Mom.

Dawn said...

I love this - at least the first half!

We had skunks last spring - cute little kittens right in our back yard - the dogs next door killed the parents, and soon the babes were gone. We don't know what happened to them, but we weren't sorry to lose track of them, no matter how cute!

Thanks for your prayers for Kristen!

Karen said...

Your mom is a blessed little lady to have a daughter like you! :o) Love and blessings, Karen

PS--thanks for sending folks to my blog last week--it was fun to get some new traffic!

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