How to Protect Yourself from a Spraying Skunk
Skunks are known to be deadly accurate up to about 15 feet and to be moderately effective to about 40, depending on the wind. That’s a problem, because they can’t see very well beyond 10 feet, so anything beyond that distance can be startling, representing to them a threat. They have muscles in their posterior next to their musk glands that provide this accuracy, and the weapon is powerful enough to ward off even bears and other potential predators.
On the down side, for them, they only have enough of the solution for about a half-dozen shots, and it takes up to a week for the supply to replenish. Given that limitation, skunks instinctively know to use the spray as a last resort, going through several preliminary moves like stamping their feet, making hissing sounds or waving their tail aloft before resorting to their best shot.
So let’s say you’ve gotten uncomfortably close, the repertoire of stamping, hissing and tail-waving has all been played and the remaining question is: will she or won’t she. The key thing to remember in this situation is that despite how the current situation appears, skunks are actually docile creatures and are unlikely to even make this final aggressive move unless they actually feel under threat. So, no sudden moves; allow the skunk to make an easy departure, and back away when you can.
Most importantly, if you’re out for a walk in the wood or the meadow – even in your back yard – maintain situational awareness. Skunks are most often out foraging at night, but they can still be out roaming during the day – particularly males during mating season.
If you should experience an unlucky encounter, there are several things to be done. If you have an extreme reaction to the spray, don’t hesitate to head for the emergency room. Otherwise, one of your initial measures should be to flush your eyes with lukewarm water for a couple of minutes. Once you can again see clearly you will want to address the problem of the odor itself.
First, remember that you’re partially coated with a stinky, oily substance that you don’t want to get on your furnishings or your car. Get a little help to assemble a large bottle of hydrogen peroxide, some baking soda or vinegar, some dish soap and put it in a large mixing bowl. Take it along with you into the shower and apply it wherever the spray has hit you -- if need be, also including your hair. Stay with the process until you smell like your old self again.
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