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Native Californian, biologist, wildlife conservation consultant, retired Smithsonian scientist, father of two daughters, grandfather of 4 small primates. INTJ. Believes nature is infinitely more interesting than shopping malls. Born 100 years too late.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A skinned skunk

[Skin, skull, and spinal column of the striped skunk. 
Leg bones with feet attached were nearby.] 

It's not often that you find a skinned skunk on the trail, but there it was.

Fred was sniffing it intensely. 

Whatever ate it, it dined fastidiously. 

The inverted hide is what you get when a predator pulls flesh from the torso and limbs while standing on the hide. 

Its hard to say what killed this skunk, assuming that it didn't die of other causes.

In this area, gray foxes, coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions, and great horned owls are the common predators reported to eat skunk, usually when quite hungry. 

I'd rule out mountain lion, because a large cat would have eaten the backbone. The same for a coyote.

A bobcat or a gray fox, on the other hand, would nip and shear the meat away from the backbone.   

My hunch? . . . we're looking at the table scraps of a bobcat or gray fox. 


randomtruth said...

Gotta love trail CSI. My money is on a great horned owl. Around our way they tend to be the skunk clean up crew, and I hear their broad range and lack of a good sniffer has made them the top predator of skunks in California.

reverend dick said...

I once came across a skunk hide like that, only it had the scent glands (still intact) attached. Talk about dining fastidiously.

As an aside, would you please visit churchofthesweetride.blogspot.com
and see if you can ID the owl fledgling I came across? I am unable to find a website that helps.
Thank you, Codger. I always enjoy visiting here.

Camera Trap Codger said...

RT--You may be right. I just don't hear them here very often.

Reverend Dick--It looks like a fledgling great horned owl to me. Neat observation about the scent glands.

Anonymous said...

Mister, I am sooooo glad I found your blog!