A run-in with a skunk

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Frequently while we are out delivering our newspapers, we see, hear and smell all kinds of wildlife. Last week, we posted about seeing a mule deer doe and her baby, we even posted a great picture of the two of them. Most of the time though, we are not so lucky to capture pictures of the creatures we see, which is the case of the skunk Al stumbled upon last night.

As mentioned above, we included smell and boy do we smell a lot of skunks while we are out. Everyone once and awhile we will see them from our cars but never face to face. That all changed last night! Al was delivering papers in a very large apartment complex and as she walked around a corner, there was a skunk standing in the middle of the sidewalk. EEEEKKKK! We startled each other! Al took a step back and the skunk slowly turned around and showed her its lovely raised tail and tush. Al stood still and silently pleaded with the skunk to not spray her. Luckily her prayers were answered and the skunk crept into the bushes and Al continued on with her delivery.

This interaction led to some research about skunks that we thought we would share with you:

  • Skunks can be found from the southern parts of Canada, throughout most of the United States and into the northern parts of Mexico.
  • They have great sense of smell and hearing but poor eyesight. They can only see about 10 feet in front of them.
  • They can spray a target 10 feet away (Al was definitely in the spray zone).
  • Skunks are omnivorous.

Hopefully one day we will be able to capture a photo of a skunk without being sprayed!

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Porcupine at the TFOB: Quills, Porcupettes, and Homeward Bound

Porcupine at the TFOB: Quills, Porcupettes, and Homeward Bound

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The next animal in our Tucson Festival of Books roundup is Rue, a North American Porcupine, and a resident of the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum. Thank you to Robin Kropp, Education Specialist from the Museum, for taking the time to show us Rue!

Rue is around six years old and guess where she was found… Downtown Tucson, on a porch! Being a desert dweller for most of my life, that really surprised me. I never would have guessed porcupines lived in Tucson.

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north american porcupine, porcupine, tucson festival of books, arizona sonora desert museum
Yummy yummy snacks!

Rue weighs about 22 pounds. North American Porcupine’s can vary in size and color depending on where they live. You can see a map of the range of the North American Porcupine on National Museum of Natural History’s website.

In the southern United States, like in Tucson, these porcupines are smaller and of lighter color than those that live further north.

north american porcupine, porcupine, tucson festival of books, arizona sonora desert museum

As soon as Rue stepped out of her kennel, I fell in love with her. I felt like the emoji with hearts in her eyes. You know, like this: ?.

Look at Rue’s precious face! Look at it!

Porcupines can live 15-18 years. In the wild, these tree-climbing rodents consume the sweet inner bark of trees, bugs, leaves and flowers. Porcupines can retreat up trees to escape predators or wedge themselves into a hole and use their quills as protection.

north american porcupine, porcupine, tucson festival of books, arizona sonora desert museum
I love corn on the cob! How did you know?

A brief digression, for all you porcupine lovers:

Rue’s quills are hollow and have small barbs on the end, which allow the quills to burrow deep into the predator’s flesh. A porcupine has about 30,000 quills all over her body except her face, belly and paws. They shed their quills like hair and regenerate more.

north american porcupine, porcupine, tucson festival of books, arizona sonora desert museum

Porcupines usually give birth to one porcupette, but occasionally have two porcupettes. That’s really what they’re called!

The young are soft when they are born and then the quills harden a couple days after birth. Porcupines are very solitary animals and not very attentive to their young. These creatures do not have a good sense of sight however they have an excellent sense of smell.

north american porcupine, porcupine, tucson festival of books, arizona sonora desert museum
Carrots are pretty delicious, too!

I read a funny thing on Wikipedia about porcupines, but couldn’t find it’s original source. Usually that means I won’t quote it, but I think this is too funny to pass up.

“The porcupine is the only native North American mammal with antibiotics in its skin. Those antibiotics prevent infection when a porcupine falls out of a tree and is stuck with its own quills upon hitting the ground. Porcupines fall out of trees fairly often because they are highly tempted by the tender buds and twigs at the ends of the branches.”

Isn’t that adorable/cute/sad/adorable? Not sure if it’s true, but definitely adorable

What do you think of the beautiful Rue? Of porcupines in general?

One of my favorite memories of porcupines is from the movie, Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey. Did you ever see that movie?


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