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