Pepe Lepew in Taos

Pepe Lepew in Taos

In the past two months we’ve trapped 10 skunks outside our chicken shack. An 11th was found face down in the layer pellets. We suspect a raccoon, but the skunk didn’t go down without a fight. It still stinks a month later.

After relocating 10 skunks to the beautiful campsites in the Ski Valley Canyon, I realized I don’t know that much about skunks other than they spray stink out of their anuses.

After a little research, here’s some of what I’ve learned about skunks.

  • Skunks can swim. Several of them immediately jumped in the river after I released them from the cage.
  • There are 12 types of skunks in the skunk family (mephitidae), most of them living only in North America. The most common is the striped skunk (mephitis mephitis).
  • Speaking of family, skunk litters range from two to 10 blind and toothless kits. Females are called does. Males are bucks.
  • Skunks mate in February. The gestation period is between 62 and 68 days. After seven weeks the kits begin venturing outside their burrow. So, that’s late June, which is exactly when they started wrecking our fence and stealing our eggs.
  • Skunks are omnivorous. They like bugs, worms, plants, eggs (knew that already), and especially bees. They will attack a hive, getting stung on the tongue and inside the stomach in the process, which doesn’t bother them. They can eat poisonous snakes and are immune to their venom.
  • Skunks’ keen sense of smell doesn’t help them in traffic. Skunks have poor vision and are very slow runners, which is why so many skunks are killed by cars.
  • Skunks are sometimes called polecats. There is a town in Wisconsin named Pole Cat Crossing. I am from Wisconsin. Therefor I am related to skunks (William Rhenquist and Paul Ryan, too). Don’t buy that reasoning? There is a member of the skunk family called the stink badger. Wisconsin is the “Badger State.” Of course, that could mean I stink, which is more likely.