Pepe Twas NOT Heavenly Scent!
My first real ‘contact’ with a skunk [Mephitis mephitis] came about in 2003 in the animal sanctuary l used to volunteer for in Lincolnshire, it was and is still remarkably fresh and memorable in my mind. From 2006 to 2009 l had a great deal of contact with them, however in 2003, l was quite excited at meeting my first!
Angie of King Ben’s Grandma asked if l had any tales of skunks a couple of weeks ago, and sadly and joyously l do. As a species, they are really a lot of fun, if l had to describe their temperament l would do so in the following way; that they are similiar to both a dog and cat mentally and to a certain degree shape wise, but they have the mischeviousness similiar to that of a ferret.
My job for the day was to feed and to clean out all the mammal enclosures. This particular skunk who just happened to be called Pepe, had arrived only a couple of days previous, and l was told to be careful as she was fairly timid.
“Don’t scare her Rory, for goodness sake, poor wee thing, was just dumped outside the gate in a box taped up with duct tape of all things. She is a little friendly, but occasionally lashes out with her teeth!”
“Is she intact?” I asked curiously.
“No, she has been done.” Sharon answered.
What could go wrong l feel is something l could have written upon my gravestone and serve me in the days of dead as an epitaph!
Anyway, with this knowledge l then proceeded to clear out all the mammal cages, prairie dogs, meerkats, coatimundis and the Kinkajous and finally rather excitedly l go to the skunk – Pepe!
Who despite the enclosure being somewhat barren, as in a good sized dog kennel, a large trunk stump on its side, some feeding bowls and straw bedding inside the kennel, was nowhere to be seen – absolutely nowhere?
“Perhaps she is hiding behind the dog kennel then?” I muttered to myself. So l proceeded to clean out the enclosure, cleaning the food bowls, sweeping the concrete base, mopping it down, bringing in the fresh food, and then once done l sat down and tried to figure out where Pepe was?
I sat and waited, and waited and waited some more, when slowly and quietly from with in the inner part of the tree trunk stump this little snout appeared and looked out, with a pair of sweet eyes looking at me.
“Oh there you are, my goodness, you are a little sweety aren’t you?” I quietly whispered to her.
Slowly Pepe came out, and looked at the work l had done, looked at the fresh water, the kibble and the lunch bowl now laden with a delicious mush of fruits, vegetables, yoghurt and bits and bots. She sauntered over to the lunch mush and sniffed it, and then as IF she had only just seen me, startled herself.
Skunks have this funny jump motion they do when startled, and occasionally they tend to walk forwards but sidewards at the same time as they approach their victims. “Well thank goodness you are no longer intact then Pepe if l didn’t know any better l would say, you are looking to spray me!”
Still Pepe advanced, and it was then that l also remembered what Sharon had said about her teeth, so l got up – perhaps too quickly!!?
Pepe once more jumped up, this time alarmed and looked like some kind of ferocious beast and charged at me and grabbed me with her teeth on my shin! Which seriously bloofy hurt! I yelped and tried to shake her loose when she …… let rip!!
It hit me like hot urine, l felt it splash my right hand and some went into my right eye and some went into my mouth, and trust me when l say it seriously bloody burns, and tastes foul, but worse of all is ……
“What in gods name is that bloody awful smell???” Sally one of the other volunteers screeched and ran off gagging as she went!
…… but worst of all is the smell!
The smell hit me after l tasted the shit in my mouth, l could feel the pain in my shin, the burning sensation on my hand and face, and all of that was really bad by itself, but with the smell l nearly threw up on my own face it was so bad. Pepe had buggered off to her kennel looking quite smug with herself – as far as she was concerned the threat was dealt with and l quickly let myself out of the enclosure, slamming it shut behind me!
Sharon came rushing up, and then soon backed away gagging.
“Are you, eewk, alright eewk?”
“No l bloody well am not! I have been bitten and sprayed by a so called non intact skunk!”
Sharon edged to about forty foot away and pointed at me to stay where l was. “When you eewk, say intact, what do you mean exactly?”
“The only thing, eewk, l could mean, de-scented!”
“Oh, oh, oh right – l thought you meant had she been spayed?”
“Why would l care about that, l am not a male skunk. More importantly was the question of whether the damn thing could spray or not?”
“Oh, right, blimey. Well it’s a good job we know now isn’t it? I never even thought about that.”
“How could you eewk not think about that first? Maybe, that is why she was boxed the way she was??”
I had to destroy my clothing, l had to clean my own wound and then whilst the others had lunch sixty odd feet away had to listen to countless examples of how to remove the scent from my face and hand.
Tomato Juice – doesn’t work!
In fact, when l got home, because the spray had been on parts of my body for several hours, the smell became more pungent, my wife at the time at first refused to let me into the house!! Finally she did let me in, and l had several hot showers, a bath and more hot showers so hot l was nearly scalded to an inch of my life.
Boiled vinegar – doesn’t work!
A zoo keeper friend of mine suggested the following concoction; hydrogen peroxide,baking soda and liquid detergent … this didn’t really work that well either.
The truth is, the damn smell eventually faded away from my body nearly six weeks later!
For six weeks, l wasn’t actually allowed upstairs into the master bedroom and had to sleep downstairs on the couch, which was then thrown away!
All l can say is Pepe Twas NOT Heavenly Scent!
However, l did actually grow to love skunks … of sorts, more tales soon!