Black and White
I have a skunk, or more likely a family of skunks, living under my chicken house. The chicken house – the skunk’s front door – is about 20 old man steps from my back door, in its own yard fenced separate from the back yard.
Our pet graveyard is along that fence (we’ve lived here a long time) with a flower bed on top of it. I can tend the flowers, mow the chicken yard, drag stuff around; the skunks don’t bother me. We can bury our departed friends and the skunks don’t bother us or them.
Overall skunks aren’t bad neighbors. Oh, well, you know, if you have dogs it can get harder, and of course we do have dogs. But the skunks seem to have figured out which side of the fence is safe, and even if Chica runs over there when they come home, they just scuttle into their apartment with their tails up, and don’t get too huffy. I’m trying to teach Chica to just watch the skunks and never chase them. She knows not to chase cats or chickens, so it’s not an unrealistic objective. If we’re sitting on the back porch when the skunks come home, as long as Chica and I just sit and watch, the skunks toddle calmly across the chicken yard minding their own business and go under the chicken house, tails down and calm.
We’ve had one middling minor mishap between Chica and a skunk, but we weren’t near the chicken house. We were out in the pasture and happened across a skunk making his rounds. This is rural Missouri; wild animals live here. She didn’t get full-blown Skunked, which is chemical warfare. She just got brushed. Warned. The skunk was as big as she is so it wasn’t fighting for its life. Just a kind of a chemical Beat it, kid, ya bother me. She was a little extra fragrant when she snuggled up close for a few days. And I had to hang her regular collar out in the weather for a month.
Skunks really aren’t bad neighbors. A raccoon or a fox might have killed her. Skunks eat mice, bugs, grubs, and other things I don’t really need in my chicken house. They rarely climb, so chickens and eggs are pretty safe even if they should happen to get inside. Which they could do; the door is open all day. Skunks are not at all aggressive, and will ignore you from five feet away if you ignore them.
Skunks are usually reported in wildlife-y articles as being possible carriers of rabies, and of course they are. So are raccoons and foxes, both of which live here. Feral housecats. Coyotes. You can’t go kill every living thing because it might have rabies. It’s life. Crowding a skunk is never that smart anyway. I plan to stay out of biting range.
And I’m not going to kill them, so I’d just as well enjoy them.