Thomas walked home with a wonderful secret poking its nose out of his pocket. He played out in his mind what he would say to his mother. Looking at the little orphan nestled against his heart, Thomas knew that this skunk was destined to be his very own pet.
After all, it was Thomas’s father who had dug the deep hole on the farm that had trapped the baby skunk. Dad had been digging for water, but a hard day of digging had left him with nothing but a dangerous hole on the property. Dad gave his son the job of checking the hole every morning for trapped creatures.
So far, Thomas had rescued a few creepy crawlies and a baby snake. But today a baby skunk had lain curled up in the hole, gently sleeping. Thomas had scampered down into the hole, scooped up the sleeping skunk, plopped him into his pocket, and headed for home.
The boy knew he had a lot to learn about taking care of his newfound furry friend. The first hurdle would be convincing his mother that the little critter would indeed make a great pet. After all, Thomas reasoned with himself, a skunk is a terrible thing to waste.
Thomas replayed his daring rescue in his mind and thought ahead to the happy times he was sure to have with such a special pet. The thing that all Guide readers worry about when thinking about skunks was far from Thomas’s mind. This was in part because Thomas lacked the experience and wisdom that come with growing up. The Bible puts it this way: “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child” (Proverbs 22:15).
And this folly, or natural kid-foolishness, was bound to cause Thomas some trouble.
SKUNK FACT 1:
Skunks are a member of the weasel family, when not being made a member of a human family. Skunks are “nocturnal,” which means they are active at night. This is one reason the skunk in our story fell into a hole. Skunks are extremely intelligent, though hardheaded, stubborn, and curious.
Come to think of it, Thomas fit that description pretty well.
By now the skunk was wide awake and very hungry after a long night in a deep, dark hole. Thomas decided that breakfast was a good idea. A skunk with a full belly is a happy skunk. Thomas was sure a happy skunk would go a long way toward impressing his mother. What do skunks eat? he wondered.
SKUNK FACT 2:
Skunks eat insects, crickets, grasshoppers, beetles, earthworms, mice, rats, shrews, moles, garden vegetables, fruits, and bird eggs.
Thomas’s mother didn’t stock any of these things, so Thomas got the skunk some milk instead. (Skunks love yogurt and cottage cheese, just in case you find yourself in a similar situation.)
The skunk filled his little belly. Now he looked like a happy skunk. Time to meet Thomas’s mother and win her over.
Thomas crept into his mother’s bedroom, where she was still sleeping. The next thing Thomas did seemed like a good idea at the time. You, of course, are feeling uneasy because you remember the one thing that all Guide readers know about skunks. He gently placed the skunk on his mother’s bed. How could she resist a snuggly, cuddly, happy skunk?
The skunk enthusiastically rushed to meet his new friend’s mother. Just as it reached her chin, Mama’s eyes flew open. She screamed, which everybody knows is no way to greet a skunk. The front part of the skunk screeched to a halt. The rear part of the skunk kept on coming, causing it to fall forward on its adorable little nose. The adorableness of its little nose was lost on Mama.
SKUNK FACT 3:
Skunks spray liquid with a foul smell when they are threatened. Young skunks are capable of expelling foul-smelling liquid by the time they are 7 weeks old.
Within the next few seconds, any doubts you may have had about the skunk’s age were answered. Yes, it was at least 7 weeks old. The skunk warned Thomas’s mama. It flared its tail, stomped its little feet, coughed and snorted.
Mama paid no attention to the skunk’s clear warning of incoming skunk spray. Mama still screamed, her mouth making a perfect target. The skunk whirled around so that its business end could do business. Then the skunk did the thing that we all know about skunks and Thomas would have done well to remember.
The skunk scored a direct hit.
SKUNK FACT 4:
Skunk musk is very irritating to mucous membranes. Mucus is a slimy fluid that coats and protects the inside of your mouth, nose, throat, and other breathing passages. A membrane is a thin layer of tissue or skin that covers certain organs or cells.
Mama’s mucous membranes were irritated. The rest of Mama wasn’t too happy either.
SKUNK FACT 5:
Some people believe that diluted solutions of vinegar or tomato juice aid in eliminating skunk odor from people, pets, or clothing.
Mama added diluted vinegar and tomato juice to her beauty routine.
The rest of the story involves a long, private discussion between Thomas and his mother. You are probably a little too familiar with those kinds of talks yourself. The ending was much like you can imagine.
Thomas learned never to use a skunk as an alarm clock. Mama quit smelling like a skunk . . . eventually. The skunk became a perfectly nice member of Thomas’s family after it underwent minor surgery that involved the removal of its arsenal in a procedure that the skunk would rather not discuss. Thomas, the skunk, and Mama lived pretty much happily ever after.
Most important, Thomas was a little less foolish than before.
Illustrated by Mike Tofanelli