Pet skunks have been raised domestically for over 100 years. Their personalities are the most interesting of any exotic pet I have ever had. The domestic skunk is very intelligent and witty. How can a skunk be witty you ask? One example, playing games on the floor with them like tag, sometimes they can out wit you! They run through the house, veer off and disappear, and find a way to come in from behind! Tag, you are it! The laughter beams from their eyes. The domestic skunk can be very stubborn; it is hard to determine who really is boss at times. If you tell them to do something, with the look of glee they stomp their cute little front feet, who can get angry?
Common myths about the skunk are that they are rabies carriers, and that all domestic skunks have rabies. I have bought three of my skunks from Ruby Farms in New Sharon, Iowa all healthy wonderful animals. (Link to Ruby's is under subject breeders.) The Ruby's fur farm has not had a single incident of rabies since 1932. I have a friend who has had her domestic skunks live into their twenties. Did they die of rabies? NO, they died of old age! The most shocking and frightening thing about this misconception is that some misinformed vets believe this nonsense also!
Under half of the US allows pet skunks. Some of these states require permits. Do not bring skunks to an illegal state. However, one very important concern you must consider is that there is no approved rabies vaccination in the US.
Like any kitten, dog, or ferret, skunk will bite even in play and if the person bitten reports it, the animal has received a death sentence; he must test for rabies. If you are in a legal state and even if you have a permit, this fact DOES NOT CHANGE! Public awareness is needed to educate the public to the atrocities of the plight of the domestic skunk. Once a vaccination is tested and approved a quarantine period can be set up, no more domestic skunks need to die.
Do you want a Skunk?
As with all my articles I will be explicit about communicating, KNOW everything about an animal before you purchase any animal, be it skunks, dogs, cats, or lizards!! If you do not you are not a responsible pet owner – plain and simple.
Skunks make outstanding pets for some people. You have to realize that a skunk is not like a dog or cat. They can be very destructive at times. Their dietary requirements are fresh vegetables, fruits, whole wheat's, dairy products, and a limited amount of high quality protein this can become quite expensive. If a skunk is not spayed or neutered, they can be very aggressive. Skunks cannot be caged, EVER! If you cage a skunk, you will have a mean, aggressive skunk that bites. Skunks are unique, if you even have a twinkling of wanting pet skunks, please read every reference about the pet skunk on the web and in books.
Therefore, you decided you might want a skunk. How do you pick it out? Buy from a reputable breeder. Make sure the skunk has bright clear eyes and a nice thick, glossy coat. Look for yellow discoloring in the white fur, the yellow "stain" is a sign of a health problem. Is the skunk active and happy? I remember picking out my first skunk. A carrier of baby skunks was brought out for me to chose from immediately all six of these little babies assumed the butt facing you, tail up position. I nearly rolled over in laughter, what a cute bunch of kids. It was a very difficult choice to make; I wanted to bring them all home with me.
The pet skunk can be bought in a pet store but will cost more money. Please consider pet adoption, or pet rescue adoption, from a skunk rescue.
Bonding and Training the New Baby Skunk
The most important thing you need to do is form a firm bond with this baby skunk. Keep him close to you and with you the majority of time. Many of us females carry our little baby skunks in our bras. The skunk is near you and can hear your heart beat. Skunks have acute since of smell, being close to you, and smelling you will knit the bond. Little skunks love to play. They enjoy it when you get on the floor with them. They love to stomp their little front legs at you, then they scoot back wards. You do the same with your hands, stomp, stomp, rake back. He will repeat the process, sometimes circling around and repeating it. They love to play with toys. Tug of war is great fun! My skunks enjoyed pat butt and would intentionally run up to me, turn their little rears around, I would give it a light tap, they laugh with glee, run in a circle and come back for another round. Do not teach your skunks to play rough.
I mentioned before you cannot cage a skunk, ever. When they are little, it is easier to have them in a confined space. If you have an extra bedroom, maybe even the bathroom. This helps keep him safe from harm and helps with the toilet training process. When you are sitting around reading, or watching TV, you can keep an eye on him, let him roam around the house. Eventually you will let him have total access of most of the house. Skunks can be very destructive; they can scratch up your carpeting and tear it to shreds. This is the nature of the skunk. Are you sure, you want a domestic skunk?
Skunk Proofing Your Home
Skunks can escape out of the smallest places. I am not sure how they do it, but they can flatten out to the depth of a carpet and scoot under many things, like doors. Skunks have no homing instincts. They have a strong since of curiosity and once out, they will sniff and investigate right into totally lost. The skunk is descented when you purchased him and has no way of protecting himself. Make sure there is no way for him to get outside your home. Check out dryer vents, heat vents, pet doors, there are numerous ways for a little skunk to get out. It is extremely rare that a lost skunk is ever found.
Other things you need to do to skunk proof your home is to put childproof latches on all the cupboards that could contain dangerous materials or things you do not want the skunk to get into. Skunks love to dig, keep the potted plants out of reach. Look around at your low tables. Skunks front feet are very much like hands, they have quite the reach on them and can pull things down from tables and are injured.
Give them soft, cuddly materials for bedding. Give him a article of clothing that you have worn with your scent on it. It will help the bonding process and assure him when he is alone. Good bedding materials are old towels, old sheets, blankets, and even old articles of clothing. Just give him the bedding. Skunks are talented and like to make their own beds. I wish my kids had done that! It is a great deal of fun watching them arrange their bedding. A skunk "carrying" a blanket is hilarious. They pull the blanket backwards with their front paws.
Make sure the skunk has plenty of fresh water available to him at all times. Skunks need a very nutritious diet. Feed high quality protien from insects, lean meats, dairy products, fresh, cooked, and raw vegetables that are washed, the same with fruits, and greens, cooked eggs, cooked grains, and vitamin and mineral supplements. Even natural high quality dog food such as Nutro. Poor diet can lead to many problems for example obesity, seizures (low blood suger ect.), fur loss, hormone imbalance, just to name a few.
Skunks are very aggressive and vicious if they are not spayed or neutered. Neuter little male skunks as early as possible, when you first feel their testicles start to develop. This can happen as early as 3 months. Little female skunks need to be spayed no later than four months. If they start reaching sexual maturity, they can begin to bite and be quite vicious. A while after surgery their previous personalities will most likely return to normal.
When you choose a vet for your skunk be very picky. Find out what his or her policy is if the skunk should bite someone. Make sure the vet has an updated education in skunks In fact ask the vet if a skunk always carries rabies. If the answer is yes, run the other way quick.
Many skunks have roundworms have them check for all worms use Evict or Nemex2 liquid dog wormer. Strongid is prescription strength and must be bought and prescribed by a vet.
Skunks require vaccinations both canine and feline shots are an absolute must! The skunks should receive his first set at four weeks of age. Make sure the vet is using a killed virus. They will receive a set of baby shots and then a booster shot once a year.
Do not ever declaw a skunk. Skunks claws are his fingers. This is how he holds his food and eats. Think about if you had, your fingers removed how you would feel. Declawing a skunk is animal abuse, plain and simple.
The domestic skunk is full of personality and antics. I remember waking up cold one night. I looked and our comforter was gone, as in missing! I looked around and found the culprit, our skunk had pulled the blanket off of us and had stolen it. He was all curled up snug and warm in our blanket. I have also enjoyed the shock value in owning a skunk. My teenage daughter had friends over. Two of these friends were very tall guys that thought they were pretty hot stuff until they ran into our skunk in the hallway. I do not believe I ever seen two people run so fast in my life.
The skunk is a very different and unique animal. It is certainly not a pet for everyone. Please research the domestic skunk completely before making a purchase. As for all exotic pets, please do not purchase a skunk just because someone else has one. Caring for any exotic pet takes a tremendous amount of time, finances, and dedication.
Above all else enjoy your pet skunk!
The skunk breeder I use is ruby farms in New Sharron, Iowa. You may want to consider animal adoption from a animal shelter or skunk rescue.
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