Skunks (Animal Prey), by Sandra Markle
This book is a really interesting one for several reasons. Skunks are often thought of as a terrorizing animal, but it is vital to realize that however much they might frighten others with their spray, skunks are themselves prey animals, and have to deal with frightening predators who want to kill them and eat them. To be sure, human beings are not necessarily the enemies of skunks. If we are easily made afraid by being sprayed, we do not tend to desire skunks for any nefarious purposes and far more people appear to be active friends of skunks rather than wishing them dead, except for those who think of skunks as a reservoir of diseases like rabies, which are more the public health people whose thoughts and opinions generally don’t count for much anyway, and whose insight is immensely limited. At any rate, this book doesn’t have anything to do with people. As the author makes plain in this gorgeously photographed book, the real threats to skunks don’t deal with human beings so much as other creatures who wish them harm and who might not be as sensitive to the spray of skunks as human beings are. The end result is a book that, while short and somewhat basic, provides the reader with a look at skunks in the wild and how it is that an animal which can live over 20 years when it is protected by a loving human family usually lives only about three years in the wild.
This book is 40 pages long, which is one of the longer books about skunks one can find. And, of particular interest is the way that this book looks at skunks as prey animals rather than opportunistic predator animals of insects or scavengers of garbage cans, or something of that nature. And the rest of the book reinforces this narrative by looking in a detailed fashion with photographs at a skunk family over the course of a year, showing how many skunk children end up dying and how it is that skunks start families and build their own houses. So we see skunks dealing with owls, and skunk kits as being vulnerable to attacks by badgers, and how it is that half a dozen skunk kits can leave only a couple of skunk babies alive at the end of a single year. The photos are stark and the text is solid for at least mid-elementary level as a worthy introduction to skunks as an animal. If you want to feel a sense of compassion for skunks in a dangerous world, this book is a fantastic place to start.