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Hot Tubbing With Skunks


Ah yes, that would be a small skunk in the above photo, and that would be our hot tub behind it!  Over on the left you can see the bowls of cat food and water that I keep out for two feral tomcats who are regular vistors. 

We have an infrared motion camera on the deck to record who/what comes and goes 24/7 and we've had a larger skunk show up quite often at night to share in the bounty.  Skunks love cat food.  We have never smelled skunk spray.  In fact they eat side by side with the tomcats and get along just fine.  Apparently cats see them as rather strange relatives, though technically they aren't.  It has never been a problem, since skunks are nocturnal and only come to eat after dark and when we aren't around. 

Monday night things went a little differently.  When John opened the door he saw a young skunk at the food bowl who quickly departed when John flipped the light on.  (We always check before exiting so as not to surprise one, that could go very badly! ) He then turned the light out and we climbed into the hot tub, which is so very relaxing in the hot water underneath the canopy of stars!  We were laughing and talking, and didn't think anything further about it, knowing that wild animals are afraid of humans and avoid them when possible. 

A short while later, as I climbed down the steps to return to the house, I looked down in the dark and saw a shadow at the food bowls.  At first I thought it was our cat who had stayed out late.  But no... that little tail was MUCH to fluffy to be Chloe.  YIKES... a skunk!  Apparently it wasn't pleased that it's dinner had been interrupted earlier and came back to finish!  It calmly continued eating as I madly scrambled back into the hot tub, hoping to avoid any sudden burst of skunk spray!  John splashed some water over the side which sent the little one skittering away into the night.  Thankfully, it was too young to be a stinker.  We are guessing that it might be one of the big skunk's offspring who has learned that it is much easier to eat our cat food than forage for a meal.  We were amazed that it opted to come up and visit while we were present.  I guess he assumed that as long as we couldn't see him down there he was safe!  My foot was on the bottom step when I noticed him.  If he'd have been any closer I would have stepped on him!  We laughed about it all night! 

Sadly, the skunk cafe will have to close down.  From now on I'll put food and water out during the day, as the tomcats also come up during daylight hours to eat.  When it gets dark the food and water will disappear, discouraging nocturnal striped visitors.  I really, really don't want to encounter a big skunk by surprise... that would not be fun at all.  I also can't afford to feed an increasing skunk population if word goes out about the great food on deck! 

It was fun seeing them show up on the "cat cam" each night, and I regret having to send them on their way, but it would be difficult to explain to the insurance folks how I fell and cracked my head open on the hot tub while scrambling to avoid a skunk.  It would not be a pretty picture, there will be no film at eleven.  Sorry Mama Skunk and Junior, the all-night cafe is going out of business.

20 comments:

  1. You got really lucky, thankfully!
    It is just as well though, as skunks are the #1 rabies carrier. It is sad, because they are cute really. And it is hard out there in the big world!
    You tried. (Don't mind my preaching, it's what I do having been a Vet. Tech.)

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    1. I know that's true about rabies, Annie, and it was also a concern, not only for us but for our furkids and the feral boys as well. Not too smart encouraging the skunks to hang around and settle in. So, alas, their party is over. Have I ever told you about the descented chocolate/white skunk I once had? It walked on a leash. Taking it to the park was fun, people gave us plenty of distance! :-)

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  2. I had a pet skunk as a kid in TX! Rasputin hated males in all forms. He was descented, also. He was your traditional black & white, big boy. Very territiorial, he would stomp his front feet a lot. *LOL* This was way before I knew better.

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    1. John also had friends who tamed baby skunks and later had them descented. "Maka" (Lakota for skunk) was beautiful, but was also a noisy critter. Being nocturnal, and house pet, he didn't make for good sleeping nights. :-)

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  3. Wow, that was a close call!!! We had a child come to school one time having had a skunk attack at his house that morning, and we had to evacuate the entire first grade wing - Phewwwwweeeeeyyy! Good call on closing down skunk café!

    My Hubs would love nothing more than a hot tub. He talks about that all the time, but we don't have, at present, a very convenient location for it. Are they a lot of maintenance?

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    1. My niece was recently out walking her dogs in Minn., Carrie. She and the two dogs both got sprayed when a skunk crossed their path. It took gallons of tomato juice to neutralize it, and she said they still reeked!

      I had friends who had a mama skunk with babies under their mobile home... the entire house reeked as scent came up thru the floor vents. They had to call an exterminator.

      We LOVE our hot tub, it's up on our deck. Jacuzzi brand, and very low maintenance due to continual ozone cycling which keeps the water clean. It requires only minimal maintenance and chemicals, I take care of it. It didn't impact our electric bill one bit, surprisingly! It really is relaxing before bedtime!

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    1. Sadly true, Kellie... they should have minded their manners and stayed off the deck when we were out ther. That's one kind of "close encounter" I really don't want! :-)

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  5. I would freak out if I almost stepped on a skunk! Yikes!!! I am glad he was too small to be a big stinker! Ha!
    I don't blame you for deciding to move the cat food...it would be better to hot tub in peace without having to worry about getting sprayed by skunks!

    Linda @ Truthful Tidbits

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    1. It was pretty exciting Linda, my husband was surprised to learn that I can move REALLY FAST when I am avoiding critters such as skunks and snakes! LOL I definitely don't want the West Texas skunk clan convening on my deck! :-)

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    1. We were laughing so hard we couldn't get to sleep last night, Kristi, all that adrenalin running. It was a cute little skunk though, sorry to spoil his supper plans!

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  7. I've never seen a skunk (we don't get them in Australia) but I can see why you should not keep putting the food out at night. It is just not possible to feed everyone. Glad you avoided any spray action. Haha.

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    1. Yes Selma, with five cats inside, and the two outside, my catfood bill is high enough, I don't need to add a family of skunks! :-) It was a close call, but funny too!

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  8. I have smelled the skunk spray, and it was shocking, overpowering. But the animals are pretty nice.

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    1. It is an incredibly strong and nasty odor, Shimon, and very hard to neturalize. Tomato juice works best, but I didn't have any on hand, so I am lucky. Tamed skunks can be quite friendly. I have an affection for all furry animals, I understand that their scent is their defense mechanism, and it is a very effective one! :-)

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  9. You crack me up! You and my sister have to meet. She too feeds the wild beasts in her yard. Recently, one of the raccoons walked into their house and stole a shoe! :)

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    1. I can't bedgrude any animal who has enough courage to enter human-scented territory for an opportunity to eat, Louise. The only critters I just can't muster up a heart for are snakes... yes, they are beautiful... at a distance... preferably a great distance. In truth, anything that can move that quickly without legs terrifies me! We live in rattlesnake country, so I am always on the alert. Racoons are very people-friendly with a little encouragement, messy characters, but so fun to watch them eat, carefully washing everything first! :-)

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  10. MAYBE it would be best (for a while) to purposely set food out for the skunks at night as far from the house as possible. They will insist on returning to their original feeding ground for a long, long time if you don't. Get them used to having a feeding ground far from the house, then stop.

    "the skunk whisperer"

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    1. That's a very good idea, Lotta Joy! We'll check the cat cam this evening, and if they're still stopping by with high hopes, we'll do exactly that. Thanks Skunk Whisperer, your talents and wisdom know no bounds! :-)

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Your comments are always appreciated... they make me smile! :-)