Dietary Needs - Death by Ignorance
In nature the skunk will eat insects, small animals, and plant matter. They will eat more than a 50% ratio of insects when insects are more abundant; especially in the summer.
Most of our pets are fed the most unnatural of diets. I see a lot of exotic pets suffer because of this. Frankly, I see far too many with serious symptoms like seizures, skunks wasting away, dying, or are euthanized because of our ignorance.
We feed insects to reptiles and wouldn’t think about giving them peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Why on earth would we feed an exotic mammal, especially a skunk dog food or cat food? I feel there are quite a few mammals that would benefit from this fresh protein diet, specifically skunks. That is their primary diet in nature along with fresh plant matter.
There has been many skunk novices over the years that have tried to do right by their pets but frankly have failed big-time. Skunks have been fed everything from dog food to sugar wafers. Long ago, people thought you could feed skunks cat food. That is far worse than even dog food.
Skunk owners need to do what other exotic pet owners have done – go back to the basics of what the animal eats in the wild. We started experimenting with insects as a potential food for pet skunks years ago when we lived in Oklahoma. We had a fenced in area where our domestic skunks could play and benefit from the rays of the sunshine. We were listening to the buzz of the cicadas when the thought occurred to us. Let’s see if the skunks will eat the cicada.
Getting a cicada was as quick as walking over to a tree. We brought the cicada over to the skunks who got quite excited and commenced chomping the cicada and looking for more. We kept catching the cicada and handing them to the skunks. The skunks would eat them as fast as we could find them. Then we found a grasshopper. They showed no preference over either of the insects. The skunks munched the grasshoppers equally as fast.
That is when we decided to start feeding a total live diet of animal matter and plant matter (fresh). It became quite a research project and a tremendously successful one.
What’s this I hear about skunk taurine deficiency and skunk calcium deficiency?
Skunks have a serious problem with low calcium. They won’t on this diet. Insects provide an excellent source of nutrients skunks and other exotic mammals need. Skunks also develop a deficiency of taurine. Insects have high levels of taurine.
We had to move to California to take care of my elderly folks. We lived in town and didn’t have access to fresh healthy insects. We couldn’t trust any insect we found because many of the insects could be poisoned with insecticides. Insects also gnaw on plants that may have been sprayed with insecticides or even possibly herbicides.
The contaminated city water supply or someone’s tainted well water could be on or in the plant. If you have some time on your hands do a little research on our water supply. You will find there is a lot of very nasty stuff in the water system from arsenic to germs. Skunks are highly sensitive to pollutants and toxins. Use a good quality water purifier for fresh drinking water, for insects, and fresh produce.
The insects we found in pet stores were less the perfect specimens. Reptile owners are equally dismayed over the condition of the insects being sold as live prey for reptiles. When these insects are shipped they aren’t fed. You have to gut load them (feed the insects healthy food) to offer your pet any nutritional value.
My suggestion is to raise your own prey or insects from crickets to, various worms, and maybe most important the Dubia roach. I prefer the Dubia roaches over many insects (especially to breed at home) because they don’t’ stink like crickets. The primary reasons I like them better is because they are meatier and have more protein. Crickets have a great deal of indigestible chitin. Crickets are noisy!
What I plan on doing is creating a series of articles on how to raise prey for your reptile or for your pet skunk. (There are a many animals other than skunks and reptiles that could benefit from some nice, fat, juicy, and healthy insects).
Many animals including man are or could be entomophagous (living on insects) insects have good nutritional value and are high in protein. It makes me wonder if humans shouldn’t think in more shades of gray when considering their nutritional choices. If any disaster should occur, natural or human caused, (such as Haiti) insects may be your only choice on the menu; just a thought.
My skunk articles Skunks as a Pet, Striped Skunk, Skunks Need PR Consultant, Off Label Drugs, and Bow to Me for I am the Domestic Skunk.
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