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Old 07-15-2019, 12:52 PM
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Bolivian skunk ranch or bunk?


Cecil once mentioned a "Bolivian skunk ranch" in what I assume was hyperbole (Adams, 1988). But is there really such a thing as a Bolivian skunk ranch?

There are two ways to read this question, depending on how we distribute the word "Bolivian". Are there skunk ranches in Bolivia? Or alternatively, are there ranches for Bolivian skunks?

~Max

Adams, C. (April 8, 1988). Is it true gelatin is made from decaying animal hides? The Straight Dope. Retrieved from https://www.straightdope.com/columns...-animal-hides/
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Old 07-15-2019, 12:54 PM
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It's a joke. There are no skunk ranches in Bolivia, or for Bolivian skunks, whichever way you parse the phrase.

Last edited by Colibri; 07-15-2019 at 01:07 PM.
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Old 07-15-2019, 12:55 PM
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Also, moved to Comments on Cecil's Columns.

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Old 07-15-2019, 12:56 PM
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It's right next to the Venezuelan Beaver Cheese shop.
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Old 07-15-2019, 01:02 PM
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There was a skunk works in Dogpatch.
There is a Skunk Works in the government.
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Old 07-15-2019, 01:56 PM
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There is only one species of skunk in Bolivia, Molina's Hog-nosed Skunk.

At one time skunk pelts were used in the fur trade, and their musk has been used as a foundation for perfumes. There were limited efforts to farm skunks for their fur in the first half of the 20th Century, but the last commercial farms closed decades ago. It's just too difficult to market it. Most people don't want to be associated with skunks no matter how attractive the fur might be.
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Old 07-15-2019, 02:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by furryman View Post
There was a skunk works in Dogpatch.
There is a Skunk Works in the government.
The Dogpatch Skonk Works were where Hairless Joe and Lonesome Polecat brewed up Kickapoo Joy Juice from skunks, old tires, and whatever else was laying around. Lockheed's secretive development program for jet fighters was named after it in 1943.

Last edited by Colibri; 07-15-2019 at 02:10 PM.
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Old 07-15-2019, 03:01 PM
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Colibri beat me to it, but I felt compelled to finish my train of thought.

To start out, I don't know anything about skunks. I've seen a skunk in Bambi and maybe one at a zoo. We get raccoons and one of them may have been a skunk, but I never noticed the difference. Lucky me.

The first part of this inquiry is to determine whether there is such a thing as a "Bolivian skunk". If there are no skunks in Bolivia, the main question is definitively answered in the negative.

So I being my research on this most important matter by consulting my encyclopedia, Wikipedia. Wikipedia classifies the skunk as "North and South American mammals in the family Mephitidae" ("Skunk", 2019). The extant genera are listed as Conepatus, Mephitis, and Spilogale.
The page for Conepatus, or the Hog-nosed skunk, shows four species. The pictoral and text description on Conepatus ranges shows that only one species, Conepatus chinga, is found in Bolivia ("Hog-nosed skunk", 2019).

The page for Mephitis says both of its species are exclusive to North America ("Mephitis (genus)", 2019).

The page for Spilogale says all four of its species are exclusive to North America ("Spotted skunk", 2019).
Therefore, assuming Bolivia is not known for importing skunks, the next question is whether Conepatus chinga is found on ranches anywhere. And it would seem that the answer to this is no.

Of all the species of skunk, "[o]ne of the least known species is the common hog-nosed skunk, C. chinga" (internal citations omitted; Donadio et al., 2001). "[L]ittle is known about the Andean hog-nosed skunk ecology, including its foods" (Travaini et al., 2006). The University of Michigan's unofficial zoology encyclopedia says "[m]uch is unknown about the lifespan of Conepatus chinga" (Afflerbaugh, 2002).

My thought is that if you farm an animal you tend to learn how long they live, what they eat, etc. It is hard to imagine such a thing as a C. chinga ranch exists now, let alone when Cecil's column was written in 1988.

There are some domesticated skunks, but from what I can tell these are of a different, North American species. Some U.S. states legalize domestic skunks but most don't, and some of those that do so only allow one per person. Canada doesn't issue permits for the importation of skunks as personal pets (CFIA, 2018). The U.S. Department of Agriculture website didn't give me a straight answer about importing pet skunks, or live skunks at all (APHIS, 2018).

And then Colibri has said there are no more commercial ranches for fur harvest.

~Max

Afflerbaugh, K. (2002). "Conepatus chinga" (On-line). Animal Diversity Web. Retrieved July 15, 2019 from https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Conepatus_chinga/

APHIS Pet Travel. (2018). Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. Retrieved July 15, 2019 from https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/pet-travel

Importing or Travelling with Foxes, Skunks, Raccoons and Ferrets as Pets. (2018). Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). Retrieved July 15, 2019 from https://www.inspection.gc.ca/animals.../1331923405610

Hog-nosed skunk. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved July 15, 2019 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hog-nosed_skunk

Mephitis (genus). (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved July 15, 2019 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mephitis_(genus)

Skunk. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved July 15, 2019 from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php...ldid=891409424

Spotted skunk. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved July 15, 2019 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spotted_skunk

Travaini, A., Delibes, M. & Ceballos, O. (2006). Summer foods of the Andean hog-nosed skunk (Conepatus chinga) in Patagonia. Journal of Zoology, 246(4). https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-7998.1998.tb00180.x
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Old 07-15-2019, 07:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Max S. View Post
My thought is that if you farm an animal you tend to learn how long they live, what they eat, etc. It is hard to imagine such a thing as a C. chinga ranch exists now, let alone when Cecil's column was written in 1988.
Just one of the lost secrets of the 20th Century

Last edited by Melbourne; 07-15-2019 at 07:18 PM.
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Old 07-15-2019, 10:04 PM
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I can’t help but think it’s an homage to Reggie Perrin. “I didn’t get where I am today by everything smelling of Bolivian unicyclist’s jock-strap.”
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Old 07-16-2019, 11:14 AM
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Could you even get anyone to work there if there was such a place?! A single skunk hit by a car emits a stench that lingers on the highway for a long time. I can only imagine what a ranch full of them would smell like. LOL
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Old 07-16-2019, 12:24 PM
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They probably wouldn't smell at all. It's not hard to surgically remove a skunk's scent glands, and one imagines that would be a routine procedure at a skunk ranch.
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Old 07-16-2019, 12:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by furryman View Post
There was a skunk works in Dogpatch.
There is a Skunk Works in the government.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Colibri View Post
The Dogpatch Skonk Works were where Hairless Joe and Lonesome Polecat brewed up Kickapoo Joy Juice from skunks, old tires, and whatever else was laying around. Lockheed's secretive development program for jet fighters was named after it in 1943.
There was a skunk works in Dogpatch
Where all skunks they were able to catch,
To a Juice they distilled:
Folks with joy, it sure filled --
Sent them soon, though, to town's booby-hatch.
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Old 07-16-2019, 12:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
They probably wouldn't smell at all. It's not hard to surgically remove a skunk's scent glands, and one imagines that would be a routine procedure at a skunk ranch.
You're hired!
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Old 07-16-2019, 08:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jasmine View Post
Could you even get anyone to work there if there was such a place?! A single skunk hit by a car emits a stench that lingers on the highway for a long time. I can only imagine what a ranch full of them would smell like. LOL
Quote:
Originally Posted by Loudon Wainwright III
Crossin' the highway late last night
He shoulda looked left and he shoulda looked right
He didn't see the station wagon car
The skunk got squashed and there you are

You got your
Dead skunk in the middle of the road
Dead skunk in the middle of the road
Dead skunk in the middle of the road
Stinkin' to high heaven
Ah, the '70's. Real music.
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Old 07-19-2019, 11:59 PM
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A ranch full of skunks wouldn't smell any worse than the same number of gerbils, rats or any other animals. They do not stink; however, if you disturb their equanimity they will make you and the neighborhood around smell powerfully. We lived for months with a family of skunks living under our porch. Many times we entered or left to see a skunk on the other end of the porch peacably watching us. In fact I took a flash photo of one in our garbage can at night, without any offensive results. If you smell it, its upset, as one hit by a car would be. I've heard of unfixed skunks as pets, although that seems tempting their good humor.
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Old 07-20-2019, 10:11 AM
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Originally Posted by svd678 View Post
A ranch full of skunks wouldn't smell any worse than the same number of gerbils, rats or any other animals. They do not stink; however, if you disturb their equanimity they will make you and the neighborhood around smell powerfully. We lived for months with a family of skunks living under our porch. Many times we entered or left to see a skunk on the other end of the porch peacably watching us. In fact I took a flash photo of one in our garbage can at night, without any offensive results. If you smell it, its upset, as one hit by a car would be. I've heard of unfixed skunks as pets, although that seems tempting their good humor.
What about baby skunks? Babies of other races have trouble controlling their bodily fluids.

~Max
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Old 07-20-2019, 11:02 AM
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What about baby skunks? Babies of other races have trouble controlling their bodily fluids.

~Max
Baby skunks start developing their anal glands at the age of a few weeks, and can control the direction of spray at three months. But they still need to release it voluntarily. They might spray in panic, but they don't let the scent loose involuntarily as a baby animal might urinate or defecate.
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