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Rick Brockway

March 8, 2013

Skunks usually put up a stink

The other night, we went out on our back deck to use the hot tub. The stars were out and the wind wasn’t blowing too badly, but the odor in the air wasn’t going to make it very pleasant.

Obviously a skunk had been around and left his distinct calling card. I thought I might see him alongside the road in the morning, but that wasn’t the case.

March is like that, since it is mating time for those black-and-white-striped creatures. They come out of their dens and wander around hoping to meet another of their kind when love is in the air.

Unlike the bear, a skunk is not a true hibernator. A bear will find a denning place and sleep through the winter, slowing its metabolism, heartbeat and breathing to almost nothing.

The skunk enters its den in the late fall and often remains inside until this time of year. They enter a seasonal state known as torpor. It’s a type of deep sleep that allows them to wake up from time to time, depending on the weather and the availability of food. It’s not unlikely to see skunks out wandering around in January if the desire moves them. A skunk eats as much as it can in the fall and builds up a fat layer like a bear but only slows down its metabolism a little bit during the colder months of winter.

I’ve had several run-ins with skunks over the years, but luckily I’ve never been sprayed.

We were camping one summer at Brennan Beach on Lake Ontario when a skunk appeared in our campsite. We never smelled him as he walked out from under our camper. I guess he smelled the smores and was looking for a tasty treat. He wandered around within a few feet of us for several minutes before heading off into the darkness.

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Rick Brockway

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