Skunk found in worcestershire!
On Sunday 7th November 2010 I had a phone call from Pete Wall to say that his friend Ryan Clarke had, the previous morning, spotted a dead skunk at the roadside near Lincomb south of Stourport. Firstly I checked the date, and no, it wasn’t April 1st. Then I agreed to go and have a look, quite expecting to see a strange ferret or even a very late badger cub.
However, when I arrived at Lincomb Bank (GR SO 827684), there was indeed, at the side of the road, a half-grown dead skunk with no apparent external injuries. It appeared to be a Mephitis species – probably a Striped Skunk Mephitis mephitis, but with more white than usual. The animal had been moved up the bank out of the way of passing traffic. I photographed it and then retrieved the body as proof of this unusual find.
Later I phoned my aquaintance Simon Key from Central Exotics in Kidderminster who knew that someone had lost a little six month old female skunk called Flower in the Kidderminster area, as described on the internet Reptile Forum of the UK. There was also a movie on UTube of a skunk on the A449 near the Mitre Oak, presumably the same one, filmed on Thursday 4th November, which provided quite a lot of interest.
I also discovered that there are a small number of breeding skunks living wild in the Forest of Dean which has been well documented. They are nocturnal omnivores, feeding on a wide range of invertebrates, plants, berries, frogs, rodents, fungi, bird eggs and nestlings. Both males and females have anal glands from which they spray a strong smelling liquid as a defence when threatened as we know, which will deter predators such as foxes.
I included a short input about the skunk in the Wyre Forest Study Group’s autumn newsletter and Mike Southall responded to say that his neighbours at Nochard had spotted it in their garden during the last week of October. There were two more sightings along Norchard Lane in the following week. Mike was able to provide me with the owner’s contact details, which led me to speak to Stephen Rowlands from TROPICALINC in Dunhampton on the phone. Stephen’s company take in unwanted exotic pets from private individuals and zoos. The company is committed to running educational sessions for children and adults of all ages. He mentioned that Flower had been kept in a fenced compound with several skunks and he still does not know how it had escaped, although he suspects that he climbed up and out of the enclosure, something that older skunks would not try. It had apparently been living free for about a week before it was sadly killed on the road, and had moved around in an area of about two square kilometers.
It was only after about 10 minutes of conversation that I gradually realised that it was Stephen who had provided a most fascinating animal presentation at my son’s wedding party in 2008. This was the best exotic animal session that I’ve seen and he comes highly recommended - see his website at: http://www.tropicalinc.com/index.html It appears that I’d held little Flower’s mother on that occasion which adds yet another twist to a fascinating story of a skunk found in Worcestershire!
Then there’s the note on the internet forum mentioning ‘recent confirmed sightings on Lynx in local woods within the county! I wonder if anyone can spot that to add to the county mammal atlas!