2 Types of skunks in the neighborhood – one walks upright.

by on August 24, 2010 · 34 comments

in Culture, Ocean Beach, Popular, The Widder Curry

Skunk-in-Grass-800x600by Judi Curry

Did any of you drive down Sunset Cliffs this weekend and get a whiff of the aroma of our neighborhood denizens?

I would have loved to have seen how the person driving the car that was right next to the skunk got into the driver’s seat. Did he step over the skunk? Get in from the passenger seat? Did the car reek? I didn’t envy that person.

When I moved into the Ocean Beach/Pt. Loma area the only skunks I saw were dead ones, usually on Canon near the trails. When they began showing their tails in my area I was surprised. There was a lot building going on, and I imagine that their “homes” were being destroyed. Now it is common to see skunks, raccoons, coyotes and even a pair of fox in the neighborhood. Those animals are easily identified, if not by the stripe running down their back or the mask on their face, or the body and stance of the others.

But what I am having trouble identifying are the skunks in the neighborhood that walk on two legs and feel that it is their right to destroy, change, or alter others possessions.

For example: twice in as many weeks political signs that I have on my property have been removed, tossed in the trees, or otherwise destroyed. Does that skunk think I cannot get new ones?

Or how about the skunk that picks up his/her dog’s poop, only to leave it in the driveway for someone else to deposit in the trashcan.

Or the latest is the skunk that is standing in my way of ridding my property of another skunk – the four-legged kind. I have an animal – which I think is a skunk – digging a hole under the fence on the outside trying to get into the back yard. I have tried different humane ways of getting rid of the skunk, but nothing has worked.

I went on line and found a method that I thought I could try and be successful. I found a glass jar and filled it with mothballs. Then I poked holes in the metal lid that I had affixed to the jar. The directions said to wrap the jar in cloth so that if it broke, glass would not be shattered all over. No problem. I have lots of rags to wrap the jar in. Except that is what I did, only to find that the following day the rag was gone. Vanished. The jar of mothballs were there, a little further into the animal’s diggings, but the rag is gone. Granted, I do not have any great attachment to the rag but it must have been a kangaroo rat that took the rag, because the following day there was an entire loaf of bread by the hole, still in the store wrapping. It must have done an exchange – take one thing and leave another in its place.

So…now I am not only trying to catch the animal skunk, but I am wondering what kind of trap I can put out for the human skunk. I wonder if the human smells as bad as the animal one. Watch out people; the neighborhood is a-changing.

{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Chris Moore August 24, 2010 at 9:31 am

Well, I can’t speak to the two-legged kind, but I had one of the four legged ones come right up to me and rub up against my leg like a friendly cat while I was talking to a neighbor the other night (I have a witness!).

Except for the digging and the smell, they’re pretty mellow creatures.

I haven’t seen the coyote or the foxes, but I’ve also seen plenty of raccoons & opossum around here.


avatar judi curry August 24, 2010 at 1:32 pm

I would have freaked out if a skunk came up to me and rubbed against any part of my body. I won’t be playing poker with you anytime soon.


avatar Abby August 24, 2010 at 2:03 pm

I had one come right up to me while I was reading outside one night, I thought it was a cat and almost petted it before I looked up from my book!


avatar judi curry August 24, 2010 at 3:09 pm

Then what did you do? “Throw the book at it?”


avatar Abby August 24, 2010 at 3:20 pm

I sat VERY still until it wandered off!


avatar judi curry August 24, 2010 at 3:31 pm

What a scary feeling. Glad it wandered away. I am reminded how my late husband was sitting in his office working on the computer when a skunk wandered in. The computer was up against the wall and the exit door – the only one – was between he and the skunk. He said he never knew he could sit so still and hold his breath for as long as he did, until the skunk left!


avatar Chris Moore August 24, 2010 at 2:48 pm

Haha, well when I saw it coming, I figured it was best not to make any sudden moves…


avatar judi curry August 24, 2010 at 3:09 pm

How long did it take for one of you to leave?


avatar Chris Moore August 24, 2010 at 3:27 pm

He just kinda walked away under the car I was standing next to and across the alley, I stayed put until I was sure I was out of range.

They’ll warn before they spray though, they’ll stamp on the ground with their front paws, hiss, and stick their tail up to let you know when they’re about to. They have a limited supply of, err, ammunition, so they won’t spray unless they think they have no other option.

I used to have close encounters with them (though not like this one) fairly often when I lived up the hill here, and also back in NJ. Unless they’re cornered or being pursued, they are not very aggressive at all.


avatar judi curry August 24, 2010 at 3:33 pm

They are very pretty to look at. When I taught school a parent brought his pet skunk into the class so that the students could get an “up close” look. I don’t remember how much he paid to have the skunk odor proofed, but I always wondered how tame he could make the animal.


avatar Sarah August 24, 2010 at 11:58 am

I find the leaving of a loaf of bread fascinating. Weird, but fascinating.


avatar judi curry August 24, 2010 at 1:32 pm

I agree – weird! At least take it out of the wrapping!


avatar Sarah August 27, 2010 at 9:08 am

Judy… I need an update. Has the mysterious skunker left any condiments to go with the bread? Perhaps some cheese?


avatar judi curry August 27, 2010 at 9:57 am

Hi Sarah,
No more food left, but three out of four towels saturated with ammonia are gone. I fully expect to see a “tea party” out there soon!


avatar dave rice August 24, 2010 at 1:04 pm

The skunks are generally pretty mellow around me too, though one scared the heck out of Christina when it popped out of a bush a while back on a walk. I don’t see too many opossum, and haven’t seen any coyotes or foxes since I left East County, but those raccoons are vicious, nasty, SOBs…


avatar dave rice August 24, 2010 at 1:05 pm

And Judy – bummer on your signs. I’ve had good luck so far putting mine up without problems or vandals, as have my neighbors (both those who agree with me and those who don’t)…


avatar judi curry August 24, 2010 at 1:35 pm

Can I put my signs on your lawn?


avatar judi curry August 24, 2010 at 1:34 pm

It’s the lack of control that my Golden Retriever has when he sees anything that looks “catlike”. I hate living with a 100+ dog with wet, vinegary tomato juice smell.


avatar kenloc August 24, 2010 at 2:17 pm

We had a family of racoons that used to come and bathe in our fountain at night.Very entertaining. I once saw a skunk make himself almost flat to get under a fence,like a mouse would.I had no idea they could do that.


avatar judi curry August 24, 2010 at 3:10 pm

Everything I have read say 3-4″ is all the skunk needs to get where it wants to go. That’s not a very big space!


avatar Frank Gormlie August 24, 2010 at 3:44 pm

Judi, I think you chased some of those 2-legged skunks over to the OB Town Council. Somebody over there just skunked me


avatar judi curry August 24, 2010 at 6:08 pm

We probably can recognize them by the white macaroni spine they will be sporting.


avatar stevo August 25, 2010 at 11:27 am

Reminds me of the good ol’ Pepe le Pew cartoons. Here’s a great episode: http://j.mp/bR4QG3


avatar Frank Gormlie August 27, 2010 at 10:43 am

Judi – 2 things: first what did your signs say? Were they political? For a candidate or more general?

Second, I have a surefire method for getting skunk off a dog (did it many times with my ol’ Baby): tar soap. Take the dog to the shower or outside area and simply apply the soap. Rinse thoroughly.

They say there are two types of dogs: the first kind is only skunked once, and the second kind is all the rest. Unfortunately Baby was in that second group.


avatar judi curry August 27, 2010 at 11:14 am

Hi Frank, thought the skunk might appear the meeting this week, but I guess he, and probably his entire family, decided it was more cozy to stay under the fence – instead of straddling it! The signs that were destroyed or moved were political signs. Two were for Jim Miller, running for Superior Court and the other was a more well-known politician.

Where do you find “Tar Soap?”

The trappers that I have talked to think that maybe my “skunk” may be a family of raccoons. Too intelligent to be skunks, they think. I’ve put up with them – him – for over a month now. Sure is smarter than me!

Thanks for the tar soap idea.


avatar San Diego Highwayman August 29, 2010 at 6:47 pm

my Shotgun Shela has been skunked twice — first time when She chased a “cat” outta our yard inta the street at night! “cat” stopped in the middle of the street — Shela didn’t :O — got it full force, right in the face — blindin her! She’s yippin & yelpin & runnin inta things till I ketch her & carry her thru the house [ BAD idea as it turned out! ] to hose her in the back yard —
[ another BAD idea! ;) house & back yard smelled fer days —

second time, couplea years later She had a skunk in our front yard and was keepin a respectfull distance till I came out the front door — whereupon the skunk charged *me* and Shela went fer the skunk! GOT her it did — but then *I* got the skunk! beaned it w a hardback copy of Louis L’amour’s collected short stories I had asettin on the porch table — lucky shot — well the skunk’s layin on it’s back kickin so I grabs Shela and THIS time I take her out to the street curb w the garden hose and spray and spray and spray until I cain’t smell stink anymores — come back to the yard and the skunks gone — well, that’s all right — ain’t been back neither — hadta git a new copy a the book however ;)

NOWadays — nights that is — when I open the front door to let Shela go out to do her bedtime business — She will “recon” afore steppin out — testin the air w her sensitive nose to see if any of them black & white “cats” might be around — there’s times whe She won’t step out — I trust her nose :)


avatar judi curry August 29, 2010 at 8:03 pm

Great story! And now I know why I read books. They make a wonderful “skunk stunner.” I don’t know if Buddy has learned his lesson. Apparently the spray must be very acidic, ’cause he kept rubbing his face on the grass, carpet. I have decided to stop trying to catch whatever this thing is. It now has 3 of my rags; a jar filled with moth balls; 30 minutes of water run into the hole; and still it digs out every single night! Might be raccoons, because I haven’t smelled the skunk. I sorta do what Shela does every night – scenting the air. Judi


avatar San Diego Highwayman August 31, 2010 at 3:29 pm

yup — ya *might* ketch somethin ya don’t wanta Judy ;)

CAUGHT onea them “stinkers” in a live trap — THEN — hadta figure what ta DO w it —

ended up throwin an old blanket over the occupied trap so’s the stinker couldn’t take “aim” at me — put it in my trailer — hitched up my rig — & moseyed upta 1/2 way to Crest [ wild country ] & turned em loose from a respectfull distance ;)


avatar judi curry August 31, 2010 at 4:42 pm

I just heard about a neighbor that was trapping skunks and taking them over the Pt. Loma College and letting them go in the canyon. He complained to someone saying that he sure had a lot of skunks. That person said he thought the neighbor might be trapping the same skunks, over and over and over. The neighbor laughed at the idea but the next one that he caught he spray painted a while line on it’s side, just in case. Two days later the skunk was back. He then began to number the skunks as he caught – and released them. Rumor is that 7 of the skunks came back. Fact? Fiction? Don’t know, but it makes a good story!


avatar San Diego Highwayman September 1, 2010 at 5:13 pm

” The cat came back, they thought it was a goner but the cat came back, it just wouldn’t stay away” — ;) :)


avatar judi curry September 1, 2010 at 6:40 pm

You might say the same thing about the skunk!


avatar Former OBcian October 16, 2010 at 11:04 am

Now I live in Normal Hgts and we have enough skunks for all of SD. Have started to trap and release lately. For years there were a few around, just enough to be interesting. Now thanks to people leaving food and water out for their pets and wild critters we have about 6 skunks per block.

Skunks can’t spray if they can’t lift their tails, so a “pipe” trap works well. they are about 6-8″ in diameter with a handle on top for easy carrying. I have also caught possums in it.

There is a very effective skunk smell remover for dogs, which is water, baking soda, dish washing detergent and white vinegar or hydrogen peroxide. We have friends who have used this on their dog many times. You can get the exact proportions on the web just google skunk odor.

I don’t mind the smell if it isn’t too strong, but direct hits are awful! I only started trapping the skunks because they started coming in my house through the cat door. They are very smart. I can set my catdoor so my cats can get in but not get out. I do this so they won’t get eaten by coyotes at night. The skunks have big claws so they can lift the catdoor up and go back out! Problem is if I wander in the kitchen at night and a skunk is there, absolutely do not want me and my kitchen sprayed.

One night I walked in the kitchen and startled a skunk. A big ‘un. He jumped and so did I. He started stomping his feet and I left the kitchen to him, shutting the door after me. For once being glad we don’t have an open plan house! I ran around the house to open the kitchen door from the outside and he was already out. So we startled each other again!

Another skunk was on my porch. I found that if I didn’t move fast towards him that he and I could be within 10 ft of each other without him turning to spray. I could tell if I was getting too close because he would start to turn and lift his tail. If I backed off, he would relax. Pretty interesting, but needles to say I didn’t it for long.


avatar Bob G. September 30, 2011 at 7:32 pm

We had a problem with skunks some time back. They were tearing up the garned and lawn every night looking for grubs (fig beetle grubs, I think). Some folks recommend treating lawn and garden for the grubs and say when the grubs are gone, the skunks will leave.
We resorted to calling a humane trapper (from Lakeside or Santee) we found on the internet. He charged a fee for examining our yard and recommending steps to make it less inviting. He pointed out the places they were likely finding shelter and where they were entering/leaving our yard. He also pointed out where they were entering/leaving the foundation of our HOUSE! He explained how to determine when they were out from under the house so we could seal the entry. He placed humane box traps in strategic locations for two weeks on the initial charge.
All we had to do was look at the traps each morning and call his phone number, state the name of our street and “catch” or “no catch”. There were two caught the first night. He came out and took them away to release them where he has permission (a wildlife refuge). For each animal removed from our property there was an additional charge. In two weeks’ time he removed four skunks from our yard. I’m sure several of them came from our neighbors’ yards as well as ours, so we did the neighborhood a favor. It was somewhat expensive, but well worth the price. We didn’t have to risk getting ourselves or our property sprayed. We didn’t have to do any work other than checking the traps each morning, and we learned a great deal about skunks, possums, and raccoons from the trapper. We are pleased to know that “our” four skunks are happily living out their days in a wildlife refuge.
We still have possums digging around our avocado tree, and I think I could catch them with a Havahart trap, but where can I take them to release them? Where do I get permission or are there places where permission is not required?


avatar brandon December 13, 2011 at 10:34 am

i hate books there dumb


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