I returned to work yesterday (Sept 05) and it will probably take me a bit of time to adjust to the "back to the routine" gig. I woke up much too early this morning just because that's what I've been doing during my time off. It was nice to see our backyard Skunk though with me getting up so early. Angie has named him "Topper" and you can see why...
There's not a lot of white fur on him, just a patch on his head that runs into his shoulders and then a bit on the tip of his tail.
Topper has been sleeping under our shed most days. We are okay with that. We hope he spends much of his life here in the backyard with us and stays away from the roads.
Watching him morning and evening the last few weeks, I can see his routines. He knows where to look for food out back, finding stuff under the bird feeders, but also he's made some pretty big holes in the lawn too. Once again, we are okay with that. Angie and I would rather have a lived in backyard, enjoyed by the wildlife, than a well manicured lawn that you cringe whenever a dandelion pops up or a Skunk digs a hole in. We get joy from the wildlife. We don't need the stress of worrying about perfect grass.
One morning while snapping some photos of him, this happened.
Of course it gave me the idea of a potential photo op another morning.
Part of Topper's routine is to sniff out our deck steps. We have a suet feeder above the steps and sometimes pieces of the suet fall down when the Downy Woodpeckers are hammering away at it. Topper cleans it up.
I also occasionally feed some of my Pigeon buds there and they throw stuff around, which Topper is also finding. As you might notice in one of the first photos, the Pigeons don't really know what to make of him.
This morning I set out the measuring tape to try and give people an idea on his size. He's quite small in my opinion.
I know I've mentioned it recently with the young Skunks we have been seeing... I'd like to believe they are the young ones of that poor mother Skunk I tried to help back in July. You may recall she could not be saved because her injuries were too severe. But she was given peace, an end to her suffering. It was the humane thing to do. It's nice to believe that we are now helping her young, more so one of them by letting him claim our backyard as his territory (not a lot of people would allow that to happen with a Skunk). Without any proof either way, nothing wrong with thinking this way; is there?
He loves our fountain.
Topper is not habituated by any means. I have a decent camera with some long lenses that allow me to pull him right in through photos. The key is to remain quiet and still, let him roam around and do his thing. If he wanders too close, I make him aware I am there. I find with the Skunks is that when they are busy looking for food they are rather oblivious to everything else. They let their noses do the work, face to the ground, and don't look up a whole lot. So there are times when suddenly Topper is coming right at me. I don't need to be drastic, just slide my foot along the ground seems to work better than a light cough, clearing of my throat, or a "psst" noise. Once he's aware, he looks right at me, sometimes the fur flares, the tail goes up and he freezes; other times he immediately backs off and goes another way. It's when the fur flaring tail popping moment happens that I don't do anything else in the moment. Would he spray? Why spook him any further to find out? Moments later he calms down and goes elsewhere away from me.
I'm no expert on these animals. I just use common sense although some people think I'm off my rocker enjoying the sights of them out back. What's not to love? They are omnivores, which means they eat both plant matter and animals including mice and rats. Toronto had quite the rat issue in 2016, hundreds of complaints from all over the city. If they promoted the benefits of Skunks in our community, people might have a little more appreciation for them.
Skunks can be a carrier of rabies, here is a list of reported cases in Ontario from past years. But who is out there trying to touch one? Certainly not me. The not wanting to get sprayed factor keeps me well enough away. There's risk in messing with any wildlife be it viruses or just plain ol' blood shed. I don't like to use the word "rabies" with any animal. Rabies spreads fear and misunderstanding. It justifies some people to harm these animals. Just enjoy them. Don't f**k with them. But enough about that, you get what I'm saying and what I'm about with our local wildlife.
We will enjoy Topper for as long as he stays with us. Naming him has added an emotional attachment but even all we don't name, we still have a love for them. He is here. He has made our backyard all the more special. And I hope to share more about his life in our backyard in another blog.