WILDLIFE WEDNESDAY: Little Stinker
Have you ever seen (or smelled) this uncommon little carnivore in Twentynine Palms?
The spotted skunk in the video is the most surprising animal that has stopped by our house, and it only came by once, deep into a December night.
Living near the park boundary—in an area of the City designated as the national park buffer overlay1—we’ve had more lost hikers on our security cameras than skunks!
See how beautiful the spotted pattern is? And what a wonderful little romp it has. A skunk can feel confident that most carnivores won’t bother it because of its superpower: it’s stinky terrible odorous spray. (I said most carnivores; I know a dog that has been sprayed by striped skunks in the suburbs more than a dozen times. Some animals don’t learn.)2
The spotted skunk’s most incredible superpower? Its unique warning. First, it stamps its front paws. If the threat is still there, the skunk struts stiffly, and before pulling out all the stops, it does a handstand—and then turns and aims its anal scent glands—and fires! It is said to be very accurate up to 10 feet or so. I don’t want to find out.
Our spotted skunk is the smallest member of the skunk family and is about the size of a squirrel. It eats insects and mice and has been observed climbing trees to raid bird nests. It lives in the rocks, and I have heard rumors of occasional skunk sightings in the Indian Cove campground. If you (or your dogs) have had skunk encounters here in 29, I’d love to know about them.
Thank you as always for sharing your wildlife photos and videos; we’ll include them in a feature soon. Always looking for more Twentynine Palms wildlife! Email your files to firstname.lastname@example.org
What is the buffer overlay? Per the City’s Land Use Overlay, “the intent of the Joshua Tree National Park Buffer Overlay is to protect enhance, and expand the scenic vistas and resources adjacent to the National Park by discouraging development that could potentially impact these resources.”
I know people have been wearing skunk fur for a long time and, more recently, Kim Kardashian—here’s a link if you want to know more about it.
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