Eduard Tranquile - Niveus Conepatus Mesoleucus
Snow Hognose Skunk
A Fighting Skunk emerges
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ommonly referred to as a ·fighting snow skunk.· However, this beast led a much quieter life along the Androscoggin River, its native habitat in the White Mountains. Prior to the 1830·s, large populations of Snow Hognose Skunks could be seen living along the river and up into the mountains. Ranging from 20 to 30 inches with a broken white stripe down the back and another white stripe on its chin and chest, these were larger than other skunks although still part of the weasel family. They had large claws and were excellent diggers, who favored shallow burrowed dens or hollowed out logs. Unlike other skunks, the Snow Hognose has highly developed dexterity while balancing on wet logs. Its primary diet consisted of mice, lizards, spiders, frogs and acorns. Its primary enemy was the Great Horned Owl. An average litter of five was born between late March and late May. With the construction of two logging towns, Berlin Mills and Berlin Falls, on the Androscoggin, the native habitat was forever changed.

Phillipe Toussant, a French-Canadian voyageur, noted in 1840: "as the Berlins rise, it will be difficult for these beasts. Yet I have seen no animal more suited to adapt."

In fact, that was true. The Snow Hognose was very loyal to individuals and families that fed them and their population held steady in Berlin until they lost the battle with two new enemies: dogs and automobiles. In 1882, Robert Belliveau left the neighboring town of Gorham with a pair of Snow Hognose Skunks on a log drive and eventually arrived in New York City. He eventually sold the pair to an Irish couple in a tenement section of the city. While the skunksˇ dependence became total so did their loyalty. Such loyalty often led to mortal battles with rivals and their pets. Capitalizing on this absolute devotion, baby Snow Hognoses were sold for large sums and then overfed and trained to fight for the purpose of gambling. The sport, which was limited to the winter months, rose in popularity through the early 1900's.

As the cost of feeding these growing beasts (the fighting Snow skunk now grew to a bulky 3 to 4 feet) became impossible for an individual, whole buildings would pool resources to adopt the beasts. The sport became illegal in the 1920's, and along with alcohol, was forced underground. When Prohibition ended, Snow Skunk fighting never resurfaced. A society for Snow Skunk Fighting was rumored to have been founded. However, the last evidence of any Snow Hognose Skunks was the broken body of Eduard Tranquile found in Prospect Park in 1964. They are believed to be extinct.

Only known possible photograph of Phillip Trussant

News article from 1880

 

To find out more information relating to the life of Eduard Tranquile follow the links below:

Berlin, NH

Tenement living

 

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