A friendly skunk

by Timothy W. Donohoe

Raum für Experimente (Ausgabe III/2017)

-

Illustration: THEPALMER


Take tomato juice - and a lot of it! Rub it in everywhere, whether on pets or humans. This has been the recipe against the grotesque sulfur secretion of the North American skunk for generations. To defend itself, the “Striped Skunk” sprays a mixture of substances rich in alkanethiol up to six meters from two anal glands. The omnivores live on the outskirts of the city and scavenge in trash cans and pets feeding bowls at dusk. The English word "skunk" probably comes from "seganku" from the Indian Algonquin language and is made of the words for "urine" and "fox".

The skunk appears in the legends of the indigenous people. The Winnebago tribe in Nebraska, for example, told of a girl who fends off a wise turtle and becomes a skunk as a punishment. In the fairy tales of the Chippewa, the Skunk warns of death in the swamp area. And the name Chicago developed from “shikaakwa”, as the Cree and Chippewa west of Lake Michigan called the striped animal. Skunks are also recurrent figures in US pop culture: for example the comic character Miz Ma’s’selle Hepzibah or Pepé Le Pew from the cartoon series of the same name by Warner Brothers. By the way: tomato juice only helps to a certain extent against the smell of skunks. The mixture of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and dishwashing detergent actually works better.

Translated by Jess Smee



similar articles

The hunters and the hunted (Topic: Humans and animals)

Hugging horses

By Sean Riley

Many US soldiers suffer severe trauma during wars. Undergoing therapy with horses helps them return to their everyday lives. A veteran explains.

more


The better America (Books)

The power to make someone wait

by Leonie Düngefeld

In her book »The Ungrateful Refugee« Dina Nayeri writes about the arrogance and prejudices of those who have never been forced to leave their home country.

more


Talking about a revolution (Books)

Meeting the whalers

by Marko Martin

Charles King revisits the anthropologist Franz Boas and his comrades in arms who, with their research on the Inuits and the Polynesians, were the first researchers to debunk racist theories.

more


Nonstop (Topic: Transport)

All out at sea

by Marc Levinson

A t-shirt from Bangladesh, an avocado from Mexico: Without the invention of container ships, today’s consumer habits would be unthinkable.

more


Make it yourself (Topic: Make it yourself!)

Statutory Eradication

by Gundula Haage

Louise Erdrich talks about resistance by indigenous peoples in 1950s America.

more


Under the Earth (Topic: Under the ground)

The dark zone

by Will Hunt

We know only a fraction of what lies beneath our feet. Yet we are more closely connected to the depths than we realise.

more