March 28, 2010 in Outdoors

Albino skunk stirs memories

By The Spokesman-Review
 
File photo

An archive photo of an albino skunk led a Spokesman-Review reader to recount the animal’s role in her family home.
(Full-size photo)

The 1953 archive photo of a white skunk published with a Critter Watch column on March 14 hit home with local reader Priscilla Brash Martin.

“What a surprise to see the albino skunk that I grew up with,” said Martin in an e-mail.

I was reporting a recent observation of a white skunk on the South Hill.

But the Brash family was way ahead on that count, having found an unusual skunk family in a field around their home near Spangle.

“To set the record straight, our albino skunk was not deodorized,” Martin continued.

“There was a litter of seven skunks and three were albino. One died in a fight. The second albino Mom had deodorized and it died during surgery, so Mom said no more deodorizing.”

The third albino skunk, named Snoball, lived in the house as a pet with the family for years before succumbing to old age, she said.

“The gentleman reporter who did the full-page story and pics in the 1953 paper fled the house when Mom said Snoball was not deodorized!” she recalled.

Indeed, it was a leap of faith to keep a deodorized skunk, considering that the mustelid lifted its tail and sprayed “the first time as a baby as we took him through the porch into the house,” Martin said.

But he never raised a stink again, she added: “He was just one of us.”

Nowadays, it’s illegal to make pets out of wildlife in Washington.

In 1980, the state enacted a regulation that prohibited importing or keeping wildlife without special permits from the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The Washington Department of Health followed in 1988 with a specific rule prohibiting people from importing or keeping skunks, bats, coyotes, foxes or raccoons. These species are known to harbor diseases, such as rabies, that can be transmitted to humans.

Local governments may have overlapping regulations. Spokane County, for instance, has laws prohibiting the keeping of dangerous animals, such as tigers and cougars, without special facilities and permits.

The pet skunk legacy lives on in the Brash family, which had Snoball’s deceased brother mounted by a taxidermist.

Snoball also was taken to a local taxidermist when he died.

“They said he was rotten, which was a lie and we figure they stole him,” Martin said. “I still look for him mounted somewhere.”

But they still have the mount of Snoball’s brother as a testament to an age gone by.


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