You will often hear most skunk owners say that skunks make very great pets and are also very intelligent animals. The reason they are bold enough to make such claims of that most pet skunks usually have their scent or musk glands removed surgically when they are young thus disarming them and making it impossible for them to spray you. However, just like with every other exoctic pet, it is vital that you have reasonable expectations is you want to enjoy having them as a pet.
The scientific name for skunk is Mephitis mephitis and it’s average lifespan is between seven to ten years.
The average size of a skunk is between 15 and 35 inches in length and weighs up to 18 pounds. The difficulty of caring for a skunk is advanced and you must have that in mind before you get one as a pet.
Skunk temperament and behavior
Some of the personality traits of a skunk such as being headstrong and stubborn, can make living with it difficult to deal or live with them. Skunks are not low maintenance pets but it is also fortunate that post skunks turn out to be loving, friendly, playful, and also entertaining.
Skunks are curious, active, and will also find their way into anything and everything. If any of your items go missing, you should bother searching much because your skunk must have stolen it just to make its bed feel softer.
Skunks do not enjoy been left in a caged environment for a long time. You have to get a skunk proof environment and provide your pet with plenty of stimulation. Skunks are natural diggers so you shouldn’t be surprised to see scratches on your woodwork from the sharp teeth or claws of your animal.
You have to make sure your skunk is sprayed and neutered because skunks are induced ovulators. What this means is that both the make and female skunk get very aggressive on each other just to make the female fertile. Such occurrences can cause injuries to both humans and the skunks.
Housing your pet skunk
It is important that your pet skunk is kept indoor at all times to prevent it from having its spraying defense against predators. Indoors, make sure you provide a large dog kennel for your pet skunk and make sure it is the largest size you can find.
Your skunk will always want to be out and about roaming the house, but that doesn’t mean it dose not need a safe place. When you are leaving the house you your keep your pet skunk in the kennel so that it is safe ( and your house is also safe) till you get back. Outside the house, you need to provide a pen that is at least 6 feet wide, 6 feet long, and 3 feet tall, also including a nest box to it.
Your home has to be escape proof if you must keep your pet skunk contained and safe from danger. If your skunk is able to break out of your home, it can cover several miles in a day and will never be able to find its way back to you. If you want to freely take your skunk out with you then you must begin to harness it from a very young age.
You can successfully potty train a skunk with litter or papers, nevertheless it can be a difficult task at the early stage.
Food and water for pet skunk
In their natural habitat, skunks are omnivores, thus they eat anything they can find. In captivity, baby skunks must be fed several times a day while adults can be fed only in the mornings and in the evenings. It is possible to get some prepackaged formula foods for skunks but you have a better chance of finding such foods online then in your local pet store.
Do not make the mistake of feeding your skunk with any kind of cat food as they are usually too fat full and will be dangerous for your pet’s health.
If you do not want to use any prepacked skunk food then you should see to it that your skunk is fed with only lean protein such as fish, eggs, cooked chicken, or feeder insects. You should also make the bulk of the remaining diet either fresh, thawed, or cooked vegetables. Due to the salt content of canned vegetables it is best to about them.
It is also safe to mix some youghurt, seeds, nuts, and a few pieces of dug food with your skunk’s diet. You can offer fruits as a treat but that shouldn’t be an every day thing. Try to feed your skunk with foods that are high is taurine and calcium or better still feed it with supplements that can provide any of those. Chocolate are dangerous to skunks so you must avoid them.
Skunks need enough access to fresh water at all times even though they end up not drinking much of it as they get most of their water from the vegetables you feed them with.
Common health problems of skunks
Skunks must be sprayed at an early age which is usually around four of six months of age. You can also do descenting around that same time even though it is often done at a younger age when the baby skunk is still with the breeder.
Bear in mind that it may be difficult for you to find a vet in your area that will be willing to descent your skunk thus you may have to travel far to get the descenting done.
You need to vaccinate your skunk against common cat and Dog diseases which includes distemper, and you should also have it dewormed.
Before you go hunting for a skunk to keep as a pet, it will be wise for you to first check around you for a vet that will be willing to treat one just incase your pet needs medical attention.
There are lots of misconceptions about rabies and skunks. It is not false that many skunks in the wild may have rabbis, but it is also not true that every skunk is a carrier of rabies. In reality, skunks have to be exposed to an animal with rabies for them to become carries of rabies.
Furthermore, there is no rabies vaccine that has been approved for skunks thus if your skunk bites any person, the animal has to be tested for rabies. And what that means is that your pet will have to be euthanized so the vet can search for rabies. The same has to happen with every other animal species that do not have an approved anti rabies vaccine.
Many vets take the risk of vaccinating skunks with unapproved vaccines that are meant for other animals like dogs, ferrets, and cats. However, authorities do not recognize such and there is no guarantee that those vaccines will protect your skunk against rabies infection.
It is legal to have a skunk as a pet?
In some areas it is illegal to keep a skunk as pet so you have to check with local authorities if you can have one in your house. If you find out that they are illegal in your area then you shouldn’t bother taking the risk to keep one.
You should never make the mistake of catching a skunk from the wild to keep as pet because you are unsure what diseases it might be carrying. Some state laws also consider skunks as part of the wild life so you have no right keeping one. Just make sure to do a proper research before keeping a skunk as pet.
Get a good breeder to buy your skunk from and you have a higher chance of getting one during the spring period. However in some places you my have to book before hand as the demand for such exotic pet may be high and you have to be on a waiting list. You can also check rescue organisations to see if they have any adult skunk that you can adopt.
Have you kept a skunk as pet before? you can tell us a thing or two by using the comment section.