Skunk is present throughout the New World and in the island nations of Southeast Asia, but nowhere else in the world. There are a number of different kinds of skunk that live in the United States. Here, in The Sea Ranch, our Skunk is known to scientists as Stripped Skunk, Mephitis mephitis (Stinky stinky in Latin). He is omnivorous and you will find him all over the Ranch scratching around in the grass for seeds and bugs. His only enemies are Owl and the dreaded automobile. Fox and Bobcat are way too smart to bother Skunk. He is a cute little fellow with a very good looking black and white coat. Skunk is very peaceable in manner and some folks take him into their home as a pet. (He is not a legal pet in every state so please do not take Skunk with you when your vacation is over.)
Skunk has good hearing and olfactory senses, but very poor eyesight. As everyone knows, he has a unique defensive mechanism - the ability to spray a noxious smelling liquid on anyone or anything that he fears might be a threat. Some folks say that he is accurate up to sixteen feet so it is best to stay out of reach if you meet up with him suddenly. Fortunately for all of us, he is reluctant to waste his ammunition because he has a limited supply and it takes a couple of weeks to regenerate it. He will usually hiss a bit and posture before actually firing, but it all depends on how frightened he is at the moment of truth.
If you are unfortunate enough to get skunked, old wives have a number of remedies that they suggest, many of which include large amounts of tomato juice. Scientists tell us that they do not work and our experience with wayward dogs that get hit every once in a while seems to add credence to their findings. Our best advice is to go on high alert whenever you see, hear or smell Skunk and tighten your grip on your dog's leash. Avoidance is the best antidote.
It is not surprising that Skunk is well represented in legend throughout North America - he is too unique not to be noticed. Some stories have him starting life out as a beautiful girl that was punished for rejecting an ugly man who happened to be a deity. Others cast Skunk in the role of an evil spirit or even a monster. A few respect him for his ability to defend himself. Understandably, most regard him as a harbinger of bad luck, but some see him as having medicinal value. In modern speech he is usually referred to in negative terms. "He is a skunk." Pittsburg skunked Tallahassee."