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895439.  Thu Mar 22, 2012 5:19 am Reply with quote

I've heard somewhere that skunks only smell bad to Americans, anyone know if it's true?

To be more specific, because North Americans are brought up with the idea that skunk spray smells incredibly bad, and are warned from childhood not to go near skunks, and it's a part of their popular culture, they react very strongly to the smell. Whereas a European, who has none of that cultural conditioning because you don't get skunks in Europe, would smell the same thing and think "well, that's unpleasant but it's no big deal".

Is there any truth in this?

895441.  Thu Mar 22, 2012 5:27 am Reply with quote

Skunk smell at low levels is faintly pleasant, however, if you've ever been near a spraying or a road kill skunk, that faintly pleasant smell becomes pungent and nauseating. My son-in-laws dog got sprayed in the mouth and was let into the house before they realized this, being the size of a small horse he is fairly difficult to stop when he is panicked, he was slavering and shaking himself as if to dry himself with the result that he managed to contaminate most of the living room with skunk laden saliva and hair. It took nearly a week for the house to air out after much washing and shampooing. To give you an idea of how bad it was the family arrived at our house to sleep and they hosed themselves down before they came into our house and even then we could still smell it.

Last edited by Efros on Thu Mar 22, 2012 4:21 pm; edited 1 time in total

895528.  Thu Mar 22, 2012 12:18 pm Reply with quote

When I was a kid, the received wisdom was that anything which had been sprayed by a skunk should be washed in tomato ketchup. Whether this actually works, or whether it just turns things red, I don't know.

Then again, the received wisdom when I was a kid was also that all skunks carry rabies. They don't of course, although in most of North America skunks and bats are the animals most likely to carry rabies.

There are no skunks on Vancouver Island. Since the island's patron saint is St Andrew who never went within five thousand miles of it, it can't have been him who got rid of them!

Spud McLaren
895580.  Thu Mar 22, 2012 4:12 pm Reply with quote

While I was dossing down in a friend's 2nd-floor flat in Windsor, Ontario, suddenly an eye-watering stench drifted in through the window. The source turned out to be a skunk just walking past, doing nothing in particular.

895588.  Thu Mar 22, 2012 5:30 pm Reply with quote

That, then, would be the reason why the German word for them is Stinktier (stink animal). Occasionally I love the pragmatic German approach to naming species...



895615.  Thu Mar 22, 2012 7:56 pm Reply with quote

Apparently skunk is an Algonquin word for a urinating fox,

895617.  Thu Mar 22, 2012 7:57 pm Reply with quote

Spud McLaren wrote:
While I was dossing down in a friend's 2nd-floor flat in Windsor, Ontario, suddenly an eye-watering stench drifted in through the window. The source turned out to be Detroit.

Fixed that for you ...

Spud McLaren
895945.  Sat Mar 24, 2012 7:32 pm Reply with quote

Oo, cutting!

Actually, when I visited again ten years later there really was a permanent whiff in the air. The source on that occasion turned out to be Detroit - well, OK, the River Detroit, as it'd been a long, hot summer and the lake levels were down. Water-borne bacteria were multiplying at record rates, and there were reports of several people who, having somehow become immersed in the water, had to have their stomachs pumped.

895947.  Sat Mar 24, 2012 8:39 pm Reply with quote

I can remember landing in Bahrain when I was 10, we got off the plane on an extremely hot day with incredible humidity, the stench was like a wall. It was December and having just come from Edinburgh the change was pretty dramatic and aromatic, about the smelliest thing in Edinburgh at that time were the breweries and distilleries. Dad's logic was that Bahrain had been built on top of cesspits and sewage tanks since time immemorial and so it was bound to be a bit whiffy. We got used to it, which was just as well as after 3 failed take off attempts our plane was eventually grounded to await new parts from the UK, we were stuck there for 36 hours in the end.


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