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SugarBean's New Home

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Mid "stride:" SugarBean has to hop to get that bad right hind leg forward.

 It's really hard for a born empath who is also a wildlife rehabilitator to watch a very small skunk sort of drag-hopping around with one hind leg that's of no use. I want to do something, anything to help. And it kills me that, if SugarBean were an opossum or woodchuck, I'd have dragged her off to a veterinarian a month and a half ago. If only she weren't fully loaded with such a deadly weapon!

So when she spent the night in that cat carrier with its straw bedding and doormat roof,  I knew I had to do better by her. I made a sleeping box with a skunk-sized entry hole, and stuffed it with sweet dry meadow grass that I gather and use to replace my bluebird nests in blowfly season. This is the box my book, The Bluebird Effect, comes packed in. Space for 12 copies is just about right for a small skunk.


I then put the box in a great old steel mailbox that I've had since I lived in Connecticut. They don't make mailboxes like this any more. Its twin is currently in service at the end of our driveway. Somebody tried real hard to rip that one off its post, and they couldn't. All they did was bend the tab. That's my kind of mailbox. I kept this one because you can't get good heavy steel mailboxes any more. And maybe I knew that somewhere 30 years hence, I might need to make a skunk palace.

On March 31, I removed the cat carrier while SugarBean was out, and put this weatherproof setup in its place. The first one to check it out was a tufted titmouse, who thought it might have been put up for her, decided it was too low to the ground, and settled for stealing some grass from SugarBean's nest. You can see here there in the doorway.


I put a nice dish of food in the sleeping box. Around 5 pm, SugarBean came trundling up, following her nose.


She climbed up on the porch as if skunks always go into mailboxes.

 She checked out the surrounding area.

Cast me a look which I decided to interpret as thankful.


Went inside to have dinner and check out the mattress.


My heart almost burst when she scuffled around in there, arranging the grass, and stayed, curled up, for a nap. The nights were still in the 40's and it made my heart sing to know that, even if she was broken, she was warm and as comfortable as possible. I don't know where she'd been sleeping, but I can't imagine she could get down into a burrow thus compromised, so she may just have tucked herself into the trumpetvine tangle to sleep. Poor thing!

I can't tell you what a treat it has been to really get to know a skunk. When we first moved here in the early 1990's, there was a beautiful skunk who came around on some summer evenings. It was all white down its head, back and tail, and, unlike SugarBean, it had very strong BO, so I could literally smell when it was around. I gave it the highly imaginative name of Stinky. Whatever works.  I had no dog to worry about, so I started accidentally leaving the odd bit of chicken, pork or what-have-you along the skunk's yard route. It wasn't long before I could walk up, talking softly, and lay a treat before Stinky's nose. Skunks are trusting animals, and they catch on quickly that you mean no harm. They catch onto it even more quickly when you're a good cook. Stinky was around for a few weeks, and then ambled on, as skunks do.

But my relationship with SugarBean is at a whole 'nother level. I know it's not a good idea to feed wild mammals, and I would never even consider leaving large bowls of kibble out at night, like I've seen people do for packs upon packs of raccoons, opossums and skunks. I have no desire to artificially boost the concentration of predators in my surroundings. But I did very much enjoy my brief relationship with Stinky.

Providing good food, clean water, and excellent housing for this car-crushed waif seems like the least I can do, given her pitiful condition.  I doubt SugarBean would be alive now but for this intervention, and her life is precious to us. I'm so grateful to this skunk for schooling Curtis in some sorely needed etiquette, for keeping her cool with a hot-headed cur around. It is a definite risk to have a wild and fully loaded skunk in one's yard, but it's worked out amazingly well, given the odds.


Watching her make herself at home in the fancy new digs was such a thrill. I couldn't stop smiling. A while later I saw movement out there and came out to see what was going on. SugarBean was on her porch again, busy grooming her fur. 

 And what to my wondering eyes did appear
But a miniature...Huh?


My apologies, SugarBean. I have been using the wrong pronoun all along. I took you for a girl, being so small and delicate. You must just be a yearling.


And you've now seen a skunk's junk, and no surprise! Cute eyes, ears, nose, toes...even the junk's cute, too.  We'll keep the name, because you're no less sweet for being a boy.




10 comments:

Too sweet, too good! Thanks for a real smile and a laugh on a fugly day. Makes me think of an agouti with a 'hemorrhoid', you, and Shila.

Sugar Bean is a cute little fella. I hope he stays around and grows as healthy as he can be. We discovered this morning that we have a skunk that lives under our tool shed. Interestingly, my twin brother has one that lives under his as well. We are now twins with skunks! We named our skunk Buttercup. Who knew we'd all be hanging out with skunks?

Ohhhh Julie, I have not been keeping up on social media so am just finding out about sweet Sugar Bean. You are the only person I know ("know"?) who would be taking such tender care of a small wounded skunk. I raise my mug of tea to you, and I say a little prayer to St.Francis. Here's to hoping that Sugar Bean heals under your watchful eye and that he goes forth and multiplies.

Ohhhh Julie, I have not been keeping up on social media so am just finding out about sweet Sugar Bean. You are the only person I know ("know"?) who would be taking such tender care of a small wounded skunk. I raise my mug of tea to you, and I say a little prayer to St.Francis. Here's to hoping that Sugar Bean heals under your watchful eye and that he goes forth and multiplies.

I love the name-Sugar Bean for a skunk! How did you manage to convince Curtis to leave Sugar Bean be? We had a skunk family under our metal shed in our backyard just prior to when we adopted our rescue dog, Gina. Luckily the mom and kids left by the time Gina took up residence in our yard. She did get skunked twice in the younger of her 15 years of life. Both times in our backyard!

Haha! All the Pierceys loved this one (especially the 8, 5, and 1 year old!).

This is the coolest thing. The fact that SB accepted the cozy nest you made is wonderful.

Hurrah for Sugar Bean and the time to get to watch him and know him :) Working from home these days I am doing my best impersonation of you. Watching bluebirds and sparrows battle for the birdhouse, mourning doves getting frisky, seeing just how useful a clean birdbath is and being fascinated by the daily hunting trips of red fox. The best things about this whole 'situation' are out that window, or hunkered up inside with me in real life or through Zoom.

Actually it all makes sense now since males are the early ones out scanning the countryside for a mate come February. Here in western Kentucky we see the roads unfortunately littered with them as they try to cross the roads and meet their untimely ends. Sugarbean almost got his but has found a wonderful helper in you. He is so sweet!!!

I am wracking my confinement-addled brain to remember where, but I recall reading SOMEWHERE about someone who basically domesticated a skunk, without de-activating the skunk ammo (so as to speak). And claimed it could be done. I am fairly sure it was a not a fictional account.
If I am able to fish up the reference, I will pass it on.

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