Are we at risk of running out of our smelly, black-and-white striped neighbors? At least two have met their demise recently on Corrales Road pavement at the south end of the village. How many more can the ecosystem afford to lose before it collapses? Perhaps those untimely deaths could have been avoided if only they had used the freshly painted black-and-white striped crosswalks. But then, our skunk citizens probably were left out of the deliberative process by which the location and design of Corrales’ new crosswalks were determined.
More likely a vigorous skunk education effort should have been implemented. The mostly nocturnal mammals related to badgers have notoriously poor eyesight —most can’t see objects more than 10 feet away.
Corrales attracts skunks because skunk real estate remains reasonable despite becoming increasingly prohibitive for humans. And so far, the price of a good meal out on the town is within budget. They will eat most anything, but are especially partial to pet food.
Also on the menu, they hope: fallen fruit and unharvested garden produce, but they’ll settle for grubs, worms, snakes, lizards and mice.
Skunks are best known for their perfume, which they spray from anal glands to ward off predators. But a persistently curious dog can be assured that any skunk only has about five squirts available at any time. More than a week is needed to refill.
The human nose detects skunk odor from a distance at concentrations of just 11.3 parts per billion in ambient air.
A suitably introduced family dog can be decontaminated by scrubbing the coat with a mixture of dilute hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and dish washing liquid.