Here in the Fake-Whiff Valley lives one of the most dangerous creatures in North America.
Aha! I’ve just spotted the white fur and black stripe of the tricky beast known as...the smunk. It is a distant cousin of the skunk, but the smunk does not use a smelly spray to keep enemies away. In fact, the smunk does the exact opposite. But more on that later...
The smunk may look small and cute, its size not much bigger than a young child. But those large paws, sharp claws, and very long arms all make the creature very good at...hugging. That’s right, I did say the smunk was a dangerous creature. Dangerously friendly.
My name is Hickory Slick. And welcome to Hickory Slick’s Weirdlife...with Hickory Slick.
As you probably know, a skunk protects itself by sending out a smell that is like rotten eggs and raw garlic inside of a burning tyre. The smell drives the skunk’s enemies far away. But, as I said, the smunk is different. It actually wants its enemies as close as possible. That’s why I’m keeping my distance from the smunk.
Oh, look! The smunk is up on its hind legs and sniffing the air. It must sense an animal nearby. Ah, yes. Just a stone’s throw away, a large grizzly bear is walking through the woods.
You would think the tiny smunk wouldn’t want to be anywhere near such a large beast as a bear. But do you see how the smunk waves its fluffy tail back and forth? It’s sending a smell into the air. *SNIFF* Ah yes, it smells like the bear’s favourite foods: Salmon...*SNIFF SNIFF*...and blueberries. Amazing!
And, look! The bear is putting its nose in the air. It smells the food. Now it’s walking quickly towards the smunk. The smunk is putting itself in grave danger! A bear is much larger than a smunk. But the smunk is not running away or hiding. Instead, it’s now sending out a smell of...*SNIFF* smoked sausages! Clearly the smunk wants the bear to come closer, and to hurry!
Now the grizzly bear gallops straight towards the smunk. Its enormous jaws are open wide, slobber dripping from its dagger-sized teeth! Oh, what will the tiny smunk do now?!
The bear has suddenly stopped. It doesn’t know what to do. The smunk has hidden behind a tree , but not very well. Even I can see its bushy tail right near the bear’s face. But the bear is confused. It is getting angry.
“Where’s the salmon and sausages?!” it seems to be saying to itself. Of course, there is no bear food. There is just the smell of bear food that the smunk has made.
It appears the bear is about to give up and walk away. Oh, but now it hears a series of growls. Is it another bear? No, the sounds are coming from the smunk! Smunks can also sound like other creatures and say exactly what they want to hear. In this case, the smunk is growling in bear language, “Who’s a good boy?” And “My, what a cutie you are.”
See the bear’s angry face go soft? The smunk now creeps out from behind the tree. And it climbs onto the bear’s back! Still growling, “Who’s a good boy?” into the bear’s ear, the smunk...gives the bear a back massage! Now the smunk is giving the bear a good back scratch. The bear is clearly in bliss. Yes, that must feel good.
The smunk is nearly finished with the bear: it’s wrapping its long arms around the grizzly beast for a hug. For the smunk to survive, it has to share a hug with other animals at least three times every day.
The smunk is now finished with its victim. It runs away and hides in the hollow of a tree. The bear looks around for the smunk. It wants another massage, and who can blame it?
This is the problem with the smunk’s way of life. Other animals get hooked on it!.
But it looks like the bear has given up looking for the smunk. It has finally turned and walked deeper into the woods. The smunk scampers away, waving its tail back and forth. This is the sign that it’s going after its next victim.
I’d love to stay and see what animal the smunk goes for next, but I believe it’s my lunchtime. Hmm, it seems a bit early for lunch, but my nose never lies. I can smell that my chef is cooking my favourite meal nearby. Mmm! Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding!
I must hurry through the woods to get to my lunch. That gravy smells amazing! Oh, and now I smell roasted potatoes! And carrots! And also...
That’s odd. The smells are coming from this deeper part of the woods. But where’s my chef? Where’s my delicious lunch?
Oh, dear. No, it can’t be! Have I been tricked by a smunk? I might be in terrible danger and yet...the promise of roast beef is too great! I cannot turn away!
“What a charming man you are! You’re so handsome!”
Oh! Who is saying these lovely things? Show yourself!
“That’s a beautiful moustache.”
Why, thank you! I comb it every morning with—
Wait a minute. Aha! I knew it. Look who it is: a smunk with a human voice.
“You are such a clever person! Who picked out your stylish hat?”
Oh, do you like it? I design my hats myself.
“I love it! You are so talented!”
Oh, now you’re giving me a hug? You really needn’t. Though that does feel quite nice. And I rather needed a massage. Mmm, yes.
Wait— where are you going? Don’t leave me! Where did that smunk go? Oh, I miss it already. Perhaps it will come back if I give it flowers. Yes, that’s what I should do. Hello?! Could you say a few more nice things about me?! *Sigh*
There you have it. The smunk has had another victim. ME.
This has been Hickory Slick. Tune in next time for Hickory Slick’s Weirdlife...with me, Hickory Slick.