Not-As-Needy Acres

tales from the heartland


Population 693, Nebraska, Middle America
December 28
C.O.B. (Crabby Old Bag)
Scientist, wife, mother, slave to the furry beasts that own the house where I live.


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APRIL 21, 2009 4:14PM

Skunk Tongues

Rate: 25 Flag


 Mephitis mephitis


As some of you already know, I’m married to a veterinarian with a PhD in parasitology.  This results in him doing some strange things, such as picking up road-kill – to check for parasites you understand.  However understanding I am, and despite the fact he has his own freezer space in the garage for “dead things”, there are some animals he is not allowed to bring home.  Topping this list are skunks.  Not that they aren’t wonderful creatures when alive and breathing, but hit one with a car, and even when wrapped in multiple plastic bags, and stored in a well-sealed chest freezer, these beasts will still stink you out of house and home.  We learned that the hard way.   


Deceased Mm 

That being the case, when Dr. Wonderful wanted to do a survey to determine how many road-killed skunks were infected with Sarcocystis neurona (a single-celled parasite that causes EPM – equine protozoal myelitis), he had to find a way to sample them without bringing their little carcasses home.  Skunk tongues were the answer.


Sarcocystis neurona 

Not only are skunk tongues located as far away from the offensive end of a dead skunk as you can get, but they are a conveniently-sized organ that will fit nicely into a screw-top test-tube!  Dr. Wonderful had his own in-car tongue collection kit consisting of gloves, scalpels, scissors, and lots of test-tubes – because you just never know when or where you’ll find a road-killed skunk. 

The daughter and I were proficient at spotting the skunks and relaying their whereabouts to Wonderful.  We were also very used to sitting at the side of the road while Wonderful dissected out many, many skunk tongues.  Initially, we were embarrassed by the strange looks we got from concerned passers-by, but we eventually learned to ignore then.  Ah, the things we do for love! 

One fine Saturday in April, the entire family drove up to Grand Island – the “big” city about 30 miles to the north.  We were heading to the animal shelter there to check-out a rabbit for the daughter.  We came equipped with an animal carrier because we were pretty sure “Spot” would be coming home with us if she had a good personality.  As luck would have it (at least from my view-point), no dead skunks were present on our drive to the shelter. 

At the same time Spot was being listed on Petfinder, so was a dog named Bud.  Not just any dog, but a low-to-the-ground Labrador/Basset cross – or so he was listed.  For years I had owned an SBD – small black dog – first Maggot (who died of old age), then Agnes (who had to be euthanized due to a spinal injury), but I was currently black dog-less.  After checking out Spot(the saint among rabbits) we decided to visit the other animals in the shelter prior to heading for home.  There he was in an outdoor run – Bud.  He looked so much happier in person than in the bad photo on Petfinder.  But – I – did – not – need – another - dog!!! 

              Buds Bowl 041203 


We signed the papers, paid the adoption fee, and were ready to head home with our new rabbit.  That’s when the man pulled into the parking lot with the large, black, plastic garbage bag with something in it.  The man headed towards the animal control officer who met him in the parking lot.  Dr. Wonderful became very interested, especially when he overheard that THERE WAS A SKUNK IN THE BAG!!!!  You could see the manic look in his eyes.  You could sense the temptation.  You could see every muscle in his body tensing up.  He finally blurted out, “I can’t take it!  I’ve got to go ask for the tongue!” - then he bolted from the car. 

The daughter looked at me, I looked back at her, I looked at the rabbit in the carrier and I sighed.  “You stay here,” I told her.  “I’m going to go get a dog.” 

Thus I found Bud being walked in the outside pen by a volunteer that knew a rube when she saw one.  She knew to tell me Bud’s time was nearly up.  No doubt she also knew that any real pressure wasn’t necessary – this dog had me from the get-go. 

I went in, signed the paperwork, paid the adoption fee, and went back to the car with one long, low, black dog. 


Long and Low to the Ground    

Shortly there after, Wonderful came back to the car with a crestfallen look on his face. 

“What happened?” I asked. 

“Well, I ran over and asked if I could have the tongue, and the animal control officer just gave me a really strange look and told me no!” 

“Did you tell him you were a veterinary parasitologist, and why you were interested in the tongue?” 

“No, I just asked for the tongue, and since it was a rabies suspect he said I couldn’t have it.” 

Frankly, I was amazed that the officer didn’t simply lock up my lunatic husband.  One can only imagine what was going through the poor guys mind. 




 Bud and Smiley


Bud the “Bassedor” (which we call him in front of folks who think “designer dogs” are something special and not just mutts) was meant to be our dog, even if our ownership of him was due to some poor diseased skunk’s demise.  Other than being able to spring over 4 foot fences, Bud is a model citizen.  He came already neutered, was house-trained, would sit, stay, come, hang out close-by, and help me every day in the barn.  He’s also a perfect sleeping companion when Wonderful is gone – doesn’t snore, doesn’t hog the bed, doesn’t steal the blankets. 


       Soccer Pooch 041203   

Wonderful continued to collect many additional skunk tongues.  One particular animal was loaded with ticks – quite the added bonus!  Unfortunately, Wonderful sliced his finger with the scalpel when removing the tongue from this one.  About that time, he remembered that rabid animals often have numerous external parasites because they stop grooming.  Fortunately, he removed the head and sent it to the rabies lab and took a trip to our medical doctor’s office for a booster rabies vaccination.   

The skunk was positive for rabies – a prime example of why you shouldn’t play with dead things.             



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Loved this...skunk tongues and all. We lost our 11 yr old Golden a few months ago. This house has NEVER been dog-less and this makes me want to visit our shelter. We know we are going to adopt but keep putting off going down there. I think Hubby is still in mourning...and that's ok. I love Bud!
Fab - we weren't dog-free at the time, just SBD-less :) Start your pet search on-line! Window shopping never hurt anyone....(she says lying throug her teeth)...
Our vet tells us most of our local rabies in the Memphis area is carried by skunks. Good thing your husband thought of that and got those shots!

Great story, very cute bassedor.
Awwww. I really enjoyed this. Up.
There's nothing quite as tasty as "skunk tongue stew" (say that five times fast!)
P.S., Dick Cheney is an assface
Ew, dead skunks. I am fascinated at the skunk tongue-collecting project though. How interesting that would be -- from a distance. And of course, Bud is adorable.

BTW, love your new avatar. Rated.
Yes, Dick Cheney is an ass-face!

As far as rabies shots go: all veterinary students receive the three shot series ( I got them at the same time since I was in grad school at a vet school) then you just need to get your titers checked once in a while. If exposed (like husband dearest) you just need a booster.
I love this story and was fascinated from the beginning. I found the combination of strange events like collecting skunk tongues, kids, lovable orphan pets, and a quirky veterinarian husband irresitble. I laughed through the whole post, but this made me laugh out loud.
" You could see the manic look in his eyes. You could sense the temptation. You could see every muscle in his body tensing up. He finally blurted out, “I can’t take it! I’ve got to go ask for the tongue!” - then he bolted from the car."
I'm still chuckling :)
My uncle is a zoologist, so we often ended up with interesting creatures in our freezer, waiting for his visit. Our cat thoughtfully provided some of them . . .
This story covered a lot of territory. I like skunks...poor dead skunks...yuck skunk tongues...sweet, lucky Bud...happy Bud...OMG Rabies!

I really hadn't been tempted to play with dead things anyway.
Blue, we are soooooo birds of a feather!!! I spent many a day picking up road kill with my biologist/medical student (x)husband. He became very proficient at taxidermy and was successful with many road killed birds of prey, racoons, but lost it on a coyote. Ah yes, dead things in the freezer. I'm so glad Dr. Wonderful renewed his rabies shot. Foaming at the mouth is not a feature that goes well with Wonderful. But a short, black dog is!!! Great that you saved him/her/it!!!
this is an incredibly delightful post! Bud is a real hit....what a good boy!!
Oh my goodness! What an exciting life you lead. LOVED the dog story. The skunk part...well, better you than me. Rated.
my god blue. on the one hand my skin is crawling with horror, especially as i imagine that last delightful skunk specimen that was just loaded with ticks, but on the other hand i can't quit laughing, so i guess it evens out. on the fully positive side, this post may have given me an idea for a foodie tuesday recipe, so despite the grossness factor here, i need to thank you and mr. wonderful both for inspiring me.
i've got a question though; if you were to boil the skunk tongues before eating them it'd kill the rabies wouldn't it?
Dead skunks in the middle of the road, and they're stinkin' to high heaven... ugh!

Love the doggie story... I lost mine last week and you (almost) make me want another one.
Oh, blue...this whole post cracked me up. Bud, skunk tongues, parasites, it had it all. I am glad everything came out good in the end. Too bad you don't have a pic of Bud doing his spring-loaded boingy jump! I thought you were Dr. Wonderful! Tell the other Dr. Wonderful hi for me. Rated for the excellent graphics and educational value.
I read this despite time I needed to be doing other things...I so love dogs!
Skunk tongues are smaller than Moose tongues. I don't know why I wrote it. It just must be true.

Bassador ---bwahahahahahahahaha. Take that Labradoodle and Puggle. Rated.
Great post--and that's not a tongue-in-cheek comment. Sorry, couldn't resist.

Where I lived in Michigan we had an Indian monastery and there was monk who walked the roads giving road kills a proper burial.
Great post! But what happened to spot?
Thanks everyone for stopping by! It's nice to know there are more folks out there with "interesting" things in their freezers. My sister is a zoologist, so I grew up collecting dead things with her. I suspect my parents were very glad when they no longer had to worry about she put in their freezer :)
This was absolutely adorable. And Bud is a cutie!
So funny! I totally understand that because your husband had to make a detour, you needed another dog. Makes all the sense in the world.
Why do I have a feeling that somewhere Linda Moulton Howe is putting together a piece for Coast to Coast AM on a rash of new mysterious Skunk Mutilations in Nebraska...
You guys really do lead a fascinating life. The manias of your husband are so far out of my ken, I wouldn't be surprised if he turned out to be a space alien. Skunk tongues! Rabid skunk ticks!!! You must be a saint, yourself.

I am glad you gave Spot her own spotlight. That was a day. Bud is one handsome dog, and he sounds quite perfect.
Once this article's been up on the internet for awhile my guess is skunk tongues will appear in upscale foodie restaurants.
I hope Wonderful has learned his lesson - cats ignore dead things - they are no fun to play with
Nice post and cool photo's.

In terms of biology
As i know parasitology is the study of parasites, their hosts and the relationship between them. As a biological discipline, the scope of parasitology is not determined by the organism or environment, as regards for parasites or parasitology this parasitology kits can help.
Parasitology Kits is an Optimised system for the concentration of parasitic elements in stool samples.This diagnostic tool and all its containing compound may only be used for scientific purposes or if notified only for in vitro diagnostic.

Thank you and i wish this could help.