Small Animal, Big Smell

Having baby skunks in our yard was both delightful and terrible at the same time. Maybe not necessarily at the same time, actually.  At first it was just wonderful! I am an animal lover so seeing those tiny little tails wiggling across the grass in my lawn melted my heart immediately.  I grabbed my three daughters and brought them to the living room to show them the small skunks.  We tried to find the mother (from inside the house of course) but she didn’t seem to be anywhere in sight.  This is the part where these little, adorable baby skunks get terrible.

My husband had already left for work so it was up to me and the girls to figure out just what to do with the baby skunks in the yard.    My youngest daughter, my six year old, asked me if we could go play with them.  I tried to tell her no but in the back of my mind I could almost recall the fact that baby skunks don’t spray until they get older.  The animal lover in me couldn’t resist.  We carefully made our way outside towards the babies that were rolling around in the grass.  With our noses up in the air, we tried to make out any skunk smell to see if they in fact, couldn’t spray.  Unable to smell anything, we sat down and began to pet, hold, and play with the small skunks.

Well, when my husband Rick got home that afternoon, he couldn’t believe what he saw, or smelled for that matter.  According to him there was a green mist hanging around our entire property and the place reeked so badly that he was tearing up in the car sitting in the driveway!  Well it turns out that baby skunks are born with the scent glands that allow them to spray and my daughters and I all had a Specific Anosmia for n-butyl mercaptan, or the stuff that makes skunks smell.  Not being able to smell the skunk spray was both a blessing and a curse because we didn’t know when it was gone!  My husband says it took two months before the smell was completely eradicated, but he still claims he can smell the skunk sometimes (he’s nicknamed me Pepé Le Pew).  The point to this story is that no matter what you’ve heard, baby skunks DO spray, no matter how young they are.  So even if your animal loving heart begs you to, whatever you do, do not play with any baby skunks you find in your yard.

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