Tuesday, April 8, 2014


There is something about this house and spring and animals coming here to die.

When we bought the house there was an odd smell in the outer rooms of... well... putrefaction. That smell turned out to have been a decomposing possum. The following spring another one showed up and died a smelly death.

Now that we are taking down the old shed, this guy shows up. He dragged himself from the road to the shed and promptly collapsed. We are not sure what is wrong with it, but his hind legs are twisted and it seems to have some sort of spinal injury.  He is young.

I looked up lot of skunk information online and I told the husband You should NEVER approach a skunk who appears to be ill! Call animal control to handle this animal. I also freaked myself out reading about dumb rabies.

The husband was not afraid, and thankfully he is in charge of "wildlife management" at the homestead. I helpfully warned him not to get bitten.

He called animal control who said they come by tomorrow if he is still there and still alive. It rained last night and most of the shed roof has been dismantled. The next thing I know the skunk is on the back porch in a box with straw and someone (with gloves) scooped him up and fed him. He is definitely getting rabies. Later when it started to get dark, the skunk crawled out of the box, down the ramp and lay in a heap in the middle of the backyard in the rain.

The husband put it back in the box. It was still there this morning, still breathing. Today, he called three different wildlife rescue folks and found someone who would take it to a vet in the western part of the state for gas money and a donation for medicine or euthanasia. Sounds like an Internet scam to me...

The husband went home at lunch to check on his ailing friend. He is still alive, but clearly suffering. He spoke with the wildlife person again who asked if he had crusty eyes (check), twitching limbs (check), runny nose (check) and said it was neurological. After speaking with a vet in Springfield it was determined that there have been a large number of cases of Canine Distemper in Massachusetts this spring. According to Mass Wildlife Canine distemper virus, can cause symptoms very similar to rabies. Canine distemper virus is not transmissible to humans and most domestic dogs are vaccinated against this virus, however, any skunk that comes into direct contact with humans or domestic animals should be treated as a potentially rabid animal.

The next thing I know he is calling me from the police station, having animal control follow him home so that the skunk can be euthanized and the head cut off to examine the brain tissue for distemper.  Ugh. It looks like we might have an outbreak in the area... I think this may be what is causing our wild youth to dismantle rock walls (and throw rocks in the road) and take out mailboxes. Perhaps they have also taken to biting skunks.