Mystery Critter

First of all, it’s ***HOT*** here in SoCal.

Our “Accurite” porch thermometer said it was 112° about 14:00, and the WeatherUnderground app said that it hit 117° a little later. At the official National Weather Service station at Pierce College (about five miles away, you can see it in that view from our back yard off to the east) they recorded the highest temperature ever in this part of the country:

And of course, there are new brush fires, including one started by a bunch of freaking idiots having a “gender reveal” party involving some sort “smoke generating pyrotechnic device.” (Currently 7,000+ acres burned from that one.)

So a few minutes ago I went out into the back yard to see how bad the smoke is here. Even though the nearest fire is 50+ miles away, there are some BIG fires and there are fires that have already been going on for weeks, so pretty much the whole state is covered in smoke.

It’ still 92° out there at 22:00, which is a little disconcerting. You can smell the smoke, although it’s not super strong or choking. The sky is covered, with the only thing visible being Jupiter, and it only faintly visible and blood red through the smoke. THAT is weird looking!

About half way back into the house I became aware that there was a critter sitting next to the sidewalk. First thought was maybe a rabbit, since we’re lousy with them, but it didn’t bolt and I couldn’t see the ears. It was about the size of a lap dog like a Pomeranian, low to the ground, shaggy. rounded and stocky.

I took another step without thinking and was surprised that it didn’t run off. My second thought was that it might be the neighbor’s little yappy dog, about the right size, but it didn’t move or bark or make any sound at all.

I stopped, pulled out my phone and was trying to get the flashlight function turned on when the critter moved away. It didn’t run away, just meandered off toward the bushes. Definitely not a rabbit, moved more like a slowly trotting dog. Not like an opossum or cat or raccoon – we’ve seen plenty of those around. I caught the faintest whiff of a musky scent and thought for a second it was a skunk, but it didn’t move like a skunk. (We’ve seen plenty of those around the old house!) What the hell was it?

Being an idiot, once I got the phone’s flashlight function on, I went around onto the porch and went looking for it. I found it immediately and stopped.  It had its back to me and a big, bushy tail raised. So it’s a skunk that walks funny?

Well, maybe. I only saw it for a couple seconds before it wandered off around the corner of the house, but it still didn’t look like a skunk. (It didn’t look like anything else that I’ve seen before either.) The skunks I’ve seen are black with white markings – this thing was medium grey, not white markings, just a lighter color, almost tan, underneath the tail. And it moved and looked more like a badger or porcupine, but they’re not found around here at all.

A juvenile raccoon of some sort? Maybe, we’ve definitely got them around. But the shape and the movement were wrong.

Some different type of skunk that I’ve never seen before? Maybe. After the second encounter I again smelled a faint whiff of a musky odor, but not necessarily “skunky.” And it did have that tail raised up like that…

Someone’s Persian or longhair cat that’s acting really weird and critter like? Again, maybe. But in my experience, stray cats will either act like, “Human! Food! I’m lost and starving and I’ll be cute for you if you have tuna!” or they’ll run like hell and be over the fence in a flash.

So it will remain a mystery for the moment. Perhaps I should be grateful I’m not showering in tomato juice right now.

Or perhaps I should get my trailcam and set it up out there again.

It just might be E.T..


Filed under Critters

7 responses to “Mystery Critter

  1. Dave

    I would guess a badger.
    We caught one at CAF some years back
    , and the animal control people came and got it. A feisty little critter!


    • Could be, Dave! This guy was anything but feisty, which made me think it wasn’t. Body shape was close, but it was totally calm, almost domesticated, which is why I kept wondering if it was a neighbor cat or dog.


  2. Karen

    Almost sounds like a coatimundi, but I don’t think they range that far north. But again, with global warming? Who knows?


  3. Dave Flood

    Paul – this is 3rd time I have tried to leave this comment. I must be pushing the wrong buttons.
    It sounds like a badger.
    We caught one at CAF many years
    Ago -and turned it over to animal
    control. I put a photo of it in
    “Flight Line.”


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