Do we really NEED skunks?


Striped Skunks (Mephitis mephitis)

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

I see a fair amount of roadkill while biking, all in various stages of going from dust to dust. By far the worst one is the skunk. The skunk, while alive, is an ignoble animal. Sure, the skunk is pretty with his soft dark fur, fluffy tail and snazzy racing stripe, resembling a dandified squirrel. But the fun part of skunks stops there. Get too close to one and you’ll be treated to an oily coating of a noxious liquid with a despicable lingering odor. Run one over with your car and the odor permeates the area, lingering for days, causing anyone driving by to flee, all the while gagging and moaning. 

It seems that skunks do little to contribute to society. They’re the veritable entitled mammal, “… who nest in burrows constructed by other animals, but they also live in hollow logs or even abandoned buildings. In colder climates, some skunks may sleep in these nests for several weeks of the chilliest season. Each female gives birth to between two and ten young each year.” (National Geographic)

So let me get this straight. Skunks live in homes that other industrious mammals built, sleep for weeks at a time, and have lots of babies. In other words, skunks are society’s welfare mammals. They produce nothing, do no work and smell bad to boot.

Other disgusting animals at least have some valuable function in the circle of life. For instance, many people abhor bats, finding them  to be creepy, yet their voracious appetites keep the annoying mosquito population at bay. (Of course if we got rid of the mosquitos, maybe we wouldn’t need the bats, but that’s another story) But skunks? “…Skunks are opportunistic eaters with a varied diet. They are nocturnal foragers who eat fruit and plants, insects, larvae, worms, eggs, reptiles, small mammals, and even fish. ” (National Geographic) Okay, so no noxious pest that the skunks make their mission in life to devour – just ordinary stuff that any mammal could eat. There’s nothing that skunks do, other than producing bad smells, that couldn’t be picked up by other mammals in the food chain.

So is there any reason we really NEED skunks? Do they serve some purpose, perchance unseen, that enriches the world around us? Perhaps. Among the inner circle of the animal kingdom, skunks serve as a cautionary tale, the bad example of mammal evolution gone awry. Picture this. Mother Beaver gathers her young ones close and says, in beaver speak, of course “Beaverettes, work hard on your little dams, or you’ll grow up to be just like those skunks – lazy, indifferent,  lacking ambition,  and smelling bad.” The little beavers scurry away, putting their beaver noses to the beaver grindstone, fearing the fate of becoming like…the skunk.

So, maybe we do need skunks, or at least our furry friends do, to parade as bad examples to their children. But do we humans need skunks? Nah, we’ve already got plenty of bad examples around already.

© Huffygirl 2011

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27 thoughts on “Do we really NEED skunks?

  1. When I finally meet the good Lord, the first thing I was gonna ask him was “Snakes? Really? What was that all about?”…… I’ll add skunks to the conversation, just for you… 🙂

  2. our dog chased down a skunk before we could stop her. Sprayed right in the face/snout. kept sneezing and wiping it’s paw on her face, rubbing her face in the dirt. No one could stand being around her because it was horrid. We read to use tomatoe paste to help reduce the smell. So poor dog was then subjected to smearing of something else on her. It helped a bit. Wow, that was like 15 years ago, and I can still picture her chasing the skunk.

    Sandi
    http://www.ahhsome.wordpress.com
    Lake Forest, CA
    **Down 10lbs in 2 weeks- wahoo!

  3. “In other words, skunks are society’s welfare mammals.” What a good comparison to some members of our own society. I’m with you on skunks. How about flies? I would love to sit outside in my little courtyard and have a meal without being driven inside because of flies. At least they don’t smell bad. This was very funny, HG.

    • So far we’ve got skunks, snakes, and cicadas on the list, so why not add flies? In many ways they’re worse than skunks, because they’re everywhere. At least they don’t smell bad – they just carry pestilance!

  4. When we were on vacation in Canada, we passed by a dead skunk and had to explain the smell to Ben. All of a sudden, he broke out with this little tune:
    Skunks are great
    Skunks are good
    Skunks behave like they all should!

    So there you have it–one vote for the skunks from a five year old! Every time I hear about skunks now, I sing his little song in my head. 🙂

      • We hear the coyotes all the time. A lot of times you’ll hear “yip yip yip yip” then “SCREEEEEEEE” from some about to be ex-varmint. On our chaparral walks we find a lot of skins of things. Mostly bunnies, but I’ll be curious to see if skunks start to show.

      • I’m actually somewhat partial to bunnies because they’re so cute, so I’d definitely root for the coyotes to be taking out the skunks. Really, not one person has mentioned anything of value that they contribute to the animal kingdom. No Lot-like person has come forth to speak on the unknown virtues of skunks.

  5. SKUNK

    A skunk’s a slinky fellow
    You wouldn’t want to meet
    As when he’s saying hello
    His odor can’t be beat

    A whiff upon the breeze
    And stomachs start to wrench
    No number of perfumeries
    Can cover up his stench

    Predictably unpopular
    He’s shunned by one and all
    His scent’s so very singular
    He’s banned from every ball

    Universally spurned
    The poor skunk withdraws
    Social bridges burned
    By matches in its paws

    We all have our weapons
    To defend and ward us well
    From harm when we’re threatened
    The skunk just has its smell

    Though claws and fangs may scare us
    They cannot quite compare
    With the skunk’s only genius:
    Its chemical warfare!

  6. Where would we be without Pepé Le Pew? There you go, something good about Skunks – a humorous cartoon character 😉 By the way, stay clear of Seabirds in general and burrowing Penguin species in particular – they spray interlopers with very fishy excrement!

  7. Lol everyone who posted on here I am greatful for you. I got a good laugh out of all this and you’re definitely my type of people. I’ve been frustrated for a while now, driving by dead skunks on the way to work, rushing to turn off my AC as fast as I can to stop the smell from entering my car, then holding my breath until I pass the mile radius of which the smell starts to wear down. By that point I’m light headed and irritated that it even happened at all when we don’t need these unforgiving skunks anyway. All this brought me to seek someone who agrees…needless to say I found many on this post!! 🙂 lol

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