A friendly skunk

by Timothy W. Donohoe

Raum für Experimente (Ausgabe III/2017)

-

Illustration: THEPALMER


Take tomato juice - and a lot of it! Rub it in everywhere, whether on pets or humans. This has been the recipe against the grotesque sulfur secretion of the North American skunk for generations. To defend itself, the “Striped Skunk” sprays a mixture of substances rich in alkanethiol up to six meters from two anal glands. The omnivores live on the outskirts of the city and scavenge in trash cans and pets feeding bowls at dusk. The English word "skunk" probably comes from "seganku" from the Indian Algonquin language and is made of the words for "urine" and "fox".

The skunk appears in the legends of the indigenous people. The Winnebago tribe in Nebraska, for example, told of a girl who fends off a wise turtle and becomes a skunk as a punishment. In the fairy tales of the Chippewa, the Skunk warns of death in the swamp area. And the name Chicago developed from “shikaakwa”, as the Cree and Chippewa west of Lake Michigan called the striped animal. Skunks are also recurrent figures in US pop culture: for example the comic character Miz Ma’s’selle Hepzibah or Pepé Le Pew from the cartoon series of the same name by Warner Brothers. By the way: tomato juice only helps to a certain extent against the smell of skunks. The mixture of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and dishwashing detergent actually works better.

Translated by Jess Smee



similar articles

The better America (Books)

The power to make someone wait

by Leonie Düngefeld

In her book »The Ungrateful Refugee« Dina Nayeri writes about the arrogance and prejudices of those who have never been forced to leave their home country.

more


Heroes (Topic: Heroes)

“We are all pack animals!”

an interview with Cornelia Funke

Life is not possible without heroes. The author Cornelia Funke explains our need for role models and difference between idols of children and adults.

more


Heroes (Topic: Heroes)

A new era for heroines

by Jagoda Marinic

For a long time the male gaze dominated the arts and it was up to men to turn women into heroes. But one hashtag was enough to shake up the role of women in Hollywood.

more


Taboo (Topic: Taboo)

Eternal loyalty?

by Jan-Werner Müller

How did it happen that US Republicans put up with Donald Trump's taboo violations?

more


Unter der Erde (Topic: Under the ground)

A punctured landscape

by Leonie Düngefeld

There's a lot of money-making natural gas under the ground in the US state of Pennsylvania. To access it, fracking is used. But the widespread drilling is damaging the environment and dividing the community.

more


Under the Earth (Topic: Under the ground)

The dark zone

by Will Hunt

We know only a fraction of what lies beneath our feet. Yet we are more closely connected to the depths than we realise.

more