Pet Skunks for Christmas? Tie up mine, please…

Posted on December 22, 2008


Exotic pets need to be wrapped during Christmas

Exotic pets need to be wrapped during Christmas

After the Christmas past, I’m tempted to tuck my exotic pets, these skunks o’ mine into festive stockings on the hearth to keep them out of mischief.

The most precious Christmas gift for me would be a dearheart little pet skunk with a red bow, snuggled into a soft Christmas stocking, tucked beneath the tree.

May she be asleep, please.

Nothing is sweet as a descented skunk, smelling like a powder puff, curled into a Christmas stocking. In a perfect world from now on, all my sweet domestic skunks would be carefully hung from the hearth with their square haunches filling stockings. I would take pictures of worried, wrinkled faces. What desaced skunks do when they don’t like what’s happening to them.

Yes, indeed, after the last four Christmas holidays with pet skunks in the house, I’m tempted to leave all of them hanging out of temptation until the holiday passes. That would keep them from mischief, though I have proven quite naive.

Gifts? Grab ’em, bro!


Two seasons hence, I realized skunks really dig Christmas presents. They maul them. Hands onto paper like a furious digging-for-crickets spree. When it happened to me, I really was clueless. Now you have a clue.

Jumping the gifts was Jeronimo’s idea. The years before, when Sequoia was an only skunk, he didn’t dig the gifts. Sequoia is a shy, unassuming little skunk. Well, maybe not so much.

I was blissfully unaware of their new motivation as I wrapped gifts in the living room, boxes piled prettily under the tree, those ready for ribbons and cards around me.

An au natural shakeable tree.

Natural shakable tree.

Sequoia and Jeronimo woke up at their first witching hour of eight o’clock. Skipped in to check out the forest scene. The Christmas tree stood in a wire-covered old washtub to deter short-legged creatures from midnight swims.

Sequoia and Jeronimo are acutely excited about the tree in the big house. Their waking moments are spent nosing around the long-needle evergreen. On the night of the gifts, their night prowl was rewarded with wrapping paper, tissue, ribbons, bows, boxes everywhere.

But, no, they didn’t throw themselves into the paper or loose ribbons like a cat. No.

Sequoia and Jeronimo pounced the wrapped presents. For once, sharing. Gleeful comrades. They dug those presents – literally dug with determination and long skunk claws, enhanced by brotherly snarling and squealing.

While I was shoving wrapped presents on the hearth where the skunks should have been, the brothers dove onto the next gifts. Fortunately, they started butt-shoving each other out of the way. Fortunately, Jeronimo’s best defense is sitting on Sequoia’s head, making his furious older brother squeal like a steaming teapot. They could try this in football, no?

I should have known better

Each night since the tree moved into the big house, I heard Sequoia squealing his fury when his baby brother was butt-shoving and sitting on him. Every morning I found that the skunks, seemingly assisted by cats, managed to remove a dried flower, pinecone, or the end of a low bough. Once they had their prize, they would dig it to dust in the rug.

Did I think cats?

Two nights before Christmas when relatives were expected, I hung a few tiny popcorn balls by leather strips from higher branches. Next morn, plastic wrap was on the floor. Not one popcorn ball on the tree. Perhaps a skunk was the culprit, no? But they had to have assistance to get that off a high branch.

The popcorn balls were so desirable Jeronimo roused several times next day to skip to the tree. He would toddle around and around. Nothing found, he would skip back to his den behind my bedroom dresser.

That evening he skipped into the living room at witching hour, Sequoia dancing along and trying to push Jeronimo out of the way. No avail. They nosed around the tree, more intent than ever. But I am not that stupid. No popcorn balls were hung.

Exasperated and scowling, Jeronimo, who is an extremely long skunk, stood on his short hind legs beneath the tree. He balanced with his tail. Wrapped his front legs and hands around a branch, shaking the tree furiously. Square little Sequoia sat square on his haunches, expectant.

Shaking the tree must have been how they felled the popcorn balls. That night they got nothing. So they shoved off to the dog food bowl.

Regurgitation

One morning I awoke to find an alarming smatter of regurgitation resembling shiny red shards of glass.

I searched for my skunks. Who else?

Throughout the house I found five more piles that looked like one of the skunks had regurgitated vital organs. I yelled for someone, phone to tell the vet we have an emergency.

Then I found chewed plastic wrap. Realized the pooh-butts discovered candy canes. My daughter left her bookbag on the floor and the culprits dug through canvas.

Much better for them

Sequoia opening seeds gift

Sequoia opening seeds gift

Treats on Christmas morning are sugarless. Peanuts, cashews, hulled sunflower seeds in festive paper. The only chance they have to dig gifts now are their own.

The tree is now a compromise. A ‘nature tree’ decorated with pinecones, dried flowers, feathers. Bird decorations, skunk slippers, plush skunk toys running through the branches.

Yes, a Christmas tree of compromise made to be mauled and gleefully shaken. Everything is wire-tied on, non-edible, and skunk-proof.

My favorite winter evening is when we are all cuddled under blankets on the sofa, tiny white Christmas lights glowing throughout the room, daughters telling stories of their day. Sequoia snuggles against my shoulder, hibernating where he likes best. Jeronimo is reclined on his back in the crook of someone’s arm, stubby legs poking up as he intently studies the tree with his sly grin.

The Christmas tree is safe momentarily. Gifts are stacked on the hearth, entertainment center, lamp tables, hutch, blanket chest, dining table…. ah, yes, just where they belong when skunks are in the house.

Skunk Medicine: There’s a Skunk in the House! and Other Tail-Raising Stories

‘Striped Christmas’ original short story title in skunk memoir book.

Skunk excerpts at ESSA Books in novel A Breath Floats By …..enjoy!

SKUNK TIP FOR THE DAY?  Read the story LOL because there are stacks!

Essa

© Essa Adams, ESSA Books

Contact author for details on permission to reprint.

Visit our sister blog Women’s Fiction for more pet stories. We’re just getting warmed up. .

NO CHOCOLATE SANTAS

NO CHOCOLATE SANTAS

Remember chocolate will poison your pets.

Keep your chocolate on high shelves with cupboard doors closed.

If you have exotic pets like pet skunks or ferrets, padlock the doors and don’t give them a ladder or the combination to the lock, this I know.

Happy holidays! and Merry Christmas!

Essa Adams

skunk-medicine-small

Pet skunk stories

Author, Skunk Medicine: There’s A Skunk in the House! and Other Tail-raising Stories

Author, A Breath Floats By penname Thayne Hudson (three pet skunks in this novel)

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