Karrie Wilson of Batesburg-Leesville has a great love and compassion for all God’s creatures.
Her pets include dogs, cats, an iguana, geckos, tree frogs, chickens, Canadian geese, and skunks. Yes, you read that right: skunks.
Mrs. Wilson’s first involvement with one of nature’s most notorious mammals began several years ago when she and her husband were trying to discover what was killing their chickens and eating the eggs. They purchased a trap, and the first animal it caught was an opossum. The second animal captured was a baby skunk, which they decided to keep and name “Squeakers.”
Mrs. Wilson took Squeakers to the Batesburg-Leesville Animal Hospital, and they determined her to be 3 to 4 weeks old and malnourished.
“Because skunks are wild, it is very difficult to find help for these types of animals,” she said.
Having never interacted with skunks before, she searched the internet for what to do and where to find help. She finally located Cornerstone Veterinarian Clinic in Irmo, and the veterinarian there de-scented Squeakers and helped nurse the little skunk back to health. Mrs. Wilson also had to complete a rather lengthy process to get licensed by the State to keep Squeakers as a pet.
Squeakers soon became a special pet to Karrie in helping her deal with some anxiety issues she had over the years. “When I would feel an anxiety attack starting, Squeakers would play and cuddle with me and help me relax to get my mind off of the anxious feelings I was having,” Mrs. Wilson said.
Sadly, Squeakers died about two years ago – but the Wilsons’ menagerie continued to grow.
A beautiful pond lies on the right side of the couple’s lengthy driveway, with trees lining the dam, giving their property the appearance of a wooded animal reserve. Behind the front door of their home, visitors are greeted with Mrs. Wilson’s bright smiling face and her infectious excitement to talk about her pets.
Her pet iguana rests on the inside window pane with its food underneath on the sofa. Her two current skunks, Sebastian and Charlotte, are asleep in the bedroom.
Skunks are semi-nocturnal creatures, waking up early but sleeping during much of the day. Charlotte sleeps in the bathroom cabinet while Sebastian sleeps under the bed. “They also like to steal our clothes and make a nest with them to sleep on,” Mrs. Wilson added.
Mrs. Wilson grew up in San Diego, Calif., and she and her first husband traveled a lot during their marriage because of his work. He eventually was offered a job in Columbia, so they settled in this area.
Mrs. Wilson and her current husband Scott bought their 20-acre property in Batesburg-Leesville in 2012. “My husband is very supportive of our pets, helping me take care of their needs. He loves them as much as I do,” she said.
The couple does not cage any of their pets, which are all potty-trained.
“I had cancer when I was 31 and was unable to have children, so these pets are my children,” she said. “My husband is from Florida; both of my parents died of cancer; and they were only children. I was an only child, so we have no one else here other than friends and our ‘babies.’”
Her “babies” eat what she eats: nuts, granola, and peanut butter. Their favorite food, however, is lemon pepper rotisserie chicken from KJ’s Market IGA in Batesburg-Leesville. Mrs. Wilson works as a receiver at KJ’s, taking care of vendors, billing, and pricing. She often brings home treats from the store for her pets.
Mrs. Wilson’s employer also is supportive of her pets and helps sponsor various events and activities they participate in. The Wilsons travel to Florida every year for a competition, where the skunks are judged in such categories as the appearance of their tail area, their markings, their friendliness, and their talent (if they have one).
Mrs. Wilson and her skunks also participate locally in the South Carolina Poultry Festival 5K walk/run in May of every year. If you have ever seen a lady there with two unique-looking animals being pushed in a stroller, that would be Karrie Wilson and her “babies.” They plan to participate in the race again this year.
Karrie and Scott Wilson’s home is always open for visitors interested in seeing their unusual pets. They also welcome any invitation to come and present a “show-and-tell” at any group event.
Oh, and if you ask anyone who knows her about Karrie Wilson, they likely will tell you she is pleasantly known as the “Skunk Lady.” Sniff her out sometime soon and enjoy a visit.