Fun Facts About Skunks
- Farmers like skunks because skunks eat insects that can destroy crops such as crickets and grasshoppers. Scientists believe that skunks eat more insects than all other mammals combined. Using their long front claws to dig in soil, they are expert insect hunters. For homeowners, however, seeing chunks of grass peeled back is a disturbing sight and a sign of skunk activity on the property.
- Skunks were once hunted and killed for their fur that was made into coats and jackets. Since manufacturers did not think consumers would buy skunk fur, they incorrectly labeled it as “black marten” or “Alaskan sable.” Of course, sable fur coats are an exotic fur that can sell for well over $10,000. When labeling laws requiring accurate contents of materials in clothing products were passed, manufacturers had to sell the fur as what it really was -- skunk fur. Sales plunged and today the market for skunk fur is very small. However, there are vintage skunk fur coats on the market with sales prices in excess of $2,000.
- Wild skunks live fewer than 3 years on average. Half of all skunk deaths are caused by road accidents. For skunks, the combination of being slow moving and having poor eyesight is fatal.
- Natural gas is colorless and has no smell. As a warning sign for gas leaks, scientists have copied the smell of skunk musk that is mixed in with the natural gas. Any leak in the system is noticed immediately due to the pungent smell.
- French Canadiens call the striped skunk “enfant du diable,” meaning “child of the devil.” In some parts of the United States, skunks are called polecats probably because of their resemblance to weasels several species of which are polecats such as the marbled and striped polecats.
- Skunks sneeze in order to clear out its nose so it can better smell plant food or animal prey.
- If you or your pet are sprayed by a skunk, wash your body with vinegar or tomato juice. It will mask the smell until it fades with time. Sprayed pets can be washed with tomato juice. Another recommended home remedy is a concoction of a quart of hydrogen peroxide, ¼ cup of baking soda, and 2 tablespoons of dish detergent. Unless your clothes are very important to you, it is best to discard them.
- Skunks enjoy eating bees and wasps. They often dig into nests not seeming to mind being stung on their tongues and even inside their stomachs. Skunks are also known to eat snakes, even poisonous ones like rattlesnakes. A snake bite cannot kill a skunk; they are immune to snake venom. Skunks also eat scorpions and venomous spiders.
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