Do Skunks Make Good Pets?

Due to their musky scent, skunks would be an ideal pet for social distancing, because no one wants to be close to an animal that can spray! But in normal circumstances, I do not think that skunks make a good pet because of their temperament, their food and safety and lastly, their health. It would be very difficult to take care of a skunk up to ten years of their life.

Is it cruel to have a pet skunk?

But domesticated skunks, which have been bred in captivity for over 60 years, are known to be quite docile and loving. Still, keeping a domesticated skunk happy and healthy is a lot of work, and so is acquiring a pet skunk in the first place. … If a pet skunk is let out of the house or escapes, it may be in grave danger.

Do pet skunks cuddle?

Despite wild skunks being most active at dawn and dusk, pet skunks can be trained to have a sleep cycle that mirrors that of their humans. They love cuddling and are playful animals, offering hours of free entertainment for their pet parents.

Can a skunk be friendly?

Skunks are generally good natured non aggressive animals that are active at night. You can easily get skunked if you surprise them and you are not paying close attention.

Do pet skunks spray?

Some large fur farms sell surplus skunks to pet stores. Skunks are probably best known for their ability to spray foul-smelling fluid as a defense against predators. … The mercaptan-emitting scent glands are usually removed in pet skunks at about four weeks of age.

After watching Is That Skunk? viewers may wonder: do skunks really make good pets? In the case of wild skunks the answer is no. But domesticated skunks, which have been bred in captivity for over 60 years, are known to be quite docile and loving. Still, keeping a domesticated skunk happy and healthy is a lot of work, and so is acquiring a pet skunk in the first place. It is currently legal to own domesticated skunks in only 17 states: Alabama, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. In most states where it is legal to own a pet skunk there are additional rules and regulations, and some require a special permit.

Growing up, skunks meant little more to me than Pepe le Pew and a bad smell occasionally on the side of the road. Others had more exciting stories; pet dogs getting sprayed and afterwards making the familys life a living hell, garbage thievery, chicken coop raids. Our local zoos had no skunks; they were sort of alien to me. So I was shocked to discover that, with increasing popularity in past years, skunks have become pets for exotic pet fanciers, those who crave something a little unique as a companion, and even regular households. But despite their growing presence in American

Although capable of living indoors with humans similarly to cats or dogs, pet skunks are relatively rare, partly due to restrictive laws and the complexity of their care. Pet skunks are mainly kept in the United States, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, and Italy.

The mercaptan -emitting scent glands are usually removed in pet skunks at about four weeks of age. Skunks are native to the Americas and are first noted in historical accounts of Christopher Columbus .

[1] Farmers valued domesticated skunks for their ability to kill rodents and other pests . [2] The courts finally ruled that the customer must be informed of any purchase that contained skunk parts. In the 20th century, most U.S. states outlawed the keeping of wild animals as part of their efforts to stem the spread of rabies .

[4] Skunks tend to be highly curious and will open cupboards that are left unlocked. Some owners have noticed skunks smelling something that was spilled on the carpet long ago, and attempting to dig to find out what is buried there. Like ferrets , their curiosity can lead them into danger, especially if they crawl inside reclining chairs or other machinery.

It is better to avoid playing rough with baby skunks, or they may become aggressive and uncooperative as they get older. If the skunk misses the litter pan, after cleanup, the area should be saturated with plain white vinegar to remove the scent, so that they will not return to that spot. For covered cat litter boxes , it will probably be necessary to cut a larger opening for the skunk.

Letting skunks outside by themselves is risky since, like ferrets, they lack a homing instinct and can easily get lost. [10] De-scented skunks lack their most powerful defense against predators such as coyotes and foxes . Skunkie Delight is a homemade blend of a cooked grain (millet, oats, barley, or brown rice), raw ground turkey, eggs , vegetable oil , and a variety of vitamin and mineral powders.

Jane Bone’s Skunk Stuff describes a diet of vegetables, fruits, dairy , yogurt , vitamins and minerals, fiber, carbohydrates , and eggs. Lynnda Butler, president of Florida Skunks as Pets, believes a small amount of sugar can be beneficial for skunks and recommends an eighth of a graham cracker or vanilla wafer a day. Per Ms. Ashley, natural sugars (such as a small amount of fruit) can be included in the diet several times a week provided that the skunk does not suffer from hypoglycemia or diabetes.

Baylisascaris eggs can remain viable in the environment for many years, despite hot or freezing weather or certain harsh chemicals. Skunks can be infested with roundworms for several weeks before eggs begin to be shed in feces . It is common for new skunks to have roundworms, which may be too early in development to be detected by fecal tests.

Diagnostic parasitologist Matt Bolek recommends that “A de-worming program should probably start at 78 weeks of age and de-worm biweekly for 34 treatments”. The sources disagree on the frequency with which adult skunks need to be treated for roundworms: [19] Owners of Pet Skunks recommends “over the counter worm medication given every couple of months and a yearly stool sample check at the vet”.

[20] However this information is dated and is no longer believe to be the best method of controlling parasites in skunks. De-worming should be done as-needed and not on a routine basis; certain parasites including roundworms become resistant to the de-wormers after frequent use. Overall, caring for skunks is more complicated and challenging than raising other pets due to their rarity.

According to James Furniss, a good skunk owner needs to be a do-it-yourself-er and willing to put in a lot of effort. Although it is quite rare for domesticated skunks to get rabies, there have been many unfortunate cases in which an uninfected pet skunk bit a person, and then was euthanized by animal control personnel so that its brain cells could be tested for rabies. [23] In 2003, The Guardian reported that the UK lacks quarantine kennels licensed to hold skunks.

With the exception of keepers who intend to house skunks in property owned by their local authority and therefore may be required to seek permission, there is no restriction on a person’s ability to keep a skunk as a domestic pet in the UK. In the United Kingdom, the practice of removing healthy scent glands is considered unethical by the regulatory body responsible for veterinary education and clinical standards. Since the introduction of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 (England and Wales) and Animal Health and Welfare Act 2006 (Scotland), it is an offence to perform any procedure which involves the removal of skunks‘ scent glands unless for the purpose of its medical treatment.

Polish law considers skunks as normal pets, like cats and dogs. [ citation needed ] North Carolina Illegal [43] North Dakota Illegal [44] Ohio Legal, with permit [ citation needed ] Oklahoma Legal, but must have importpermit and health certificate. [ citation needed ] Oregon Legal, if bought outside ofOregon, with import permitand health certificates.Illegal to sell or trade skunks.

[ citation needed ] Pennsylvania Legal, with permit [ citation needed ] Rhode Island Illegal South Carolina Permit required since 2004;previously owned remain legal,but no more will be permitted.Illegal to buy or sell skunks. George W. Owings III introduced a bill in the Maryland legislature to legalize pet skunks in that state. Mike Slattery, testifying on behalf of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources , criticized the idea, saying it would encourage ” Bambi syndrome”, the tendency to domesticate wild animals.

In addition to the problems at the state level, federal organizations set the policy for dealing with accidental skunk bites, which currently requires euthanizing the animal so rabies tests can be performed. They also favor clinical tests to determine the appropriate quarantine /observation period in case of a skunk bite. [56] According to Aspen Skunk Rabies Research, Inc., the effectiveness of petitions is limited by the fact that many important decisions are made by national organizations.

[57] The National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians ‘ annual Rabies Compendium sets the procedures for what to do if a skunk bites someone. In Canada , Mike Freeman of Freeman’s Exotic Skunks was ordered in 1999 by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources to destroy his entire stock of 100 adult and 700 baby skunks. Although the agency had approved his farm in 1997, the 1998 Fish and Wildlife Act outlawed breeding.

[ citation needed ] Although NRC does not recognize the CFIA laws, the CFIA assured Chernoff that NRC cannot confiscate a micro-chipped skunk whose legality is documented with import papers and a health certificate. In 2004, Canadian activists were working on having a tear duct rabies test legalized for skunks. OOPS has an annual picnic and publishes a quarterly newsletter containing informative articles about skunks, human interest stories, puzzles, information on skunk related laws, and regional and national events.

Skunk Haven also maintains a regularly updated list of legal states. Skunks as Pets has chapters in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, North Dakota, Mississippi, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, Canada, and Germany. ^ “Native American Indian Skunk Legends, Meaning and Symbolism from the Myths of Many Tribes” .

^ Canada Rabies Study Archived 25 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine ^ “Detention Period of Dogs, Cats, Raccoons, Foxes and Skunks In accordance with the Rabies Prevention Law” (PDF) . ^ “Importing or Travelling with Foxes, Skunks, Raccoons and Ferrets as Pets” .

Skunks as pets

Although capable of living indoors with humans similarly to cats or dogs,In the United States, pet skunks can be purchased from licensed animal shelters, non-profit skunk educational organizations such as the American Domestic Skunk Association, Inc., or breeders with a permit from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. Baby skunk availability peaks during springtime, immediately following the skunk mating season. Some large fur farms sell surplus skunks to pet stores.Skunks are probably best known for their ability to spray foul-smelling fluid as a defense against predators. Most wild skunks spray only when injured or attacked, as a defense mechanism. The mercaptan-emitting scent glands are usually removed in pet skunks at about four weeks of age. Since 2006, this removal practice has been illegal in the UK.

History[edit]

Skunks are native to the Americas and are first noted in historical accounts of Christopher Columbus. Skunks were reportedly kept as pets by some Native American nations.In the 20th century, most U.S. states outlawed the keeping of wild animals as part of their efforts to stem the spread of rabies. Only about one-third of states continued to allow domestic skunks. In the 1990s, skunk enthusiasts began establishing mailing lists and organized for skunk law reform. In the 2000s, similar initiatives took place in Canada.

Handling skunks[edit]

It is better to avoid playing rough with baby skunks, or they may become aggressive and uncooperative as they get older. Bare hands can be used for loving and cuddling the skunk, but a stuffed toy or hand puppet should be used when playing with them due to their sharp teeth and extremely long fangs.As with all animals, spanking or hitting a skunk is not recommended, since it will cause them to become vengeful or hand-shy. A squirt of water from a spray bottle may be helpful.

Housebreaking[edit]

Most skunks can be housebroken by corner training. After they choose a corner, a litter pan with unscented litter can be placed there. If the skunk misses the litter pan, after cleanup, the area should be saturated with plain white vinegar to remove the scent, so that they will not return to that spot. After the skunk’s toilet has been established, it can be moved about four inches a day to a different location. The skunk may or may not follow. If it does not follow, it may be necessary to give in, let the skunk have that corner, and block the view with a chair or bookcase placed in the corner or some other decorative idea.For covered cat litter boxes, it will probably be necessary to cut a larger opening for the skunk.Letting skunks outside by themselves is risky since, like ferrets, they lack a homing instinct and can easily get lost.

Diet[edit]

Skunks need a wider variety of food than most pets. They tend to have a voracious appetite, making obesity a common problem.The topic of what to feed skunks is very controversial, according to Owners of Pet Skunks.Jane Bone’s Skunk Stuff describes a diet of vegetables, fruits, dairy, yogurt, vitamins and minerals, fiber, carbohydrates, and eggs.Lynnda Butler, president of Florida Skunks as Pets, believes a small amount of sugar can be beneficial for skunks and recommends an eighth of a graham cracker or vanilla wafer a day. Others (e.g. Skunk Haven) eschew feeding skunks processed sugar altogether, citing the risk of diabetes. Skunk expert Mary Kaye Ashley, as well as the American Domestic Skunk Association, also strongly disagree with the feeding of any form of processed sugar products. Per Ms. Ashley, natural sugars (such as a small amount of fruit) can be included in the diet several times a week provided that the skunk does not suffer from hypoglycemia or diabetes.Skunks generally do not drink a great deal of water, but clean water should always be available.

United Kingdom[edit]

Baby skunks from the pet store generally have not had any medical treatment other than scent gland removal, and will require spaying or neutering, shots, and worming. They will need to be tested for coccidia and other protozoa as well as parasites. Skunks also need to have regular yearly checkups. Dr. Frank Krupka and Skunk Haven have developed a blood panel to show if supplements or changes in diet are needed, and recommend a blood panel as part of a yearly check up.Veterinary understanding of skunks is rather limited, since scientists have not conducted as much research on skunks as they have on more common pets. Skunks do not always respond to medicines the same way as cats or dogs. As a result, there is considerable disagreement about how best to treat them. Some veterinarianshamsters is appropriate for skunks, and treat them as such. However, hamsters are from the order of rodents, while Skunks are in the family mephitidae, most closely related to ferrets (family mustelidae),There are several different pet skunk organizations giving out conflicting advice on skunk care. Particularly in the medical realm, it is wise to consult multiple sources rather than rely on any one source of information from the Internet.Males should be neutered between 3 and 4 months of age. Females should be spayed between 4 and 6 months of age.Most skunk organizations recommend Purevax Distemper and Rabies vaccinations. Only distemper has been shown to cause disease or illness in skunks. Other vaccinations created for dogs and cats are modified live vaccinations and may cause actual illness in skunks.Skunks should not be declawed, since they use their claws to handle food. Instead, their claws should be trimmed occasionally. Skunks have “digging” claws like dogs, as opposed to gripping claws like cats.Many skunks have died from roundworms.Skunks can be infested with roundworms for several weeks before eggs begin to be shed in feces. It is common for new skunks to have roundworms, which may be too early in development to be detected by fecal tests. Skunk experts agree that all new skunks need to be treated for roundworms, and that more than one treatment is needed. Diagnostic parasitologist Matt Bolek recommends that “A de-worming program should probably start at 7–8 weeks of age and de-worm biweekly for 3–4 treatments”.The sources disagree on the frequency with which adult skunks need to be treated for roundworms:The consensus is that brand-names

Canada[edit]

Import permits will not be issued for foxes, raccoons and skunks purchased for import to Canada as a personal pet.

Poland[edit]

Polish law considers skunks as normal pets, like cats and dogs. There are no specific regulations and there is no requirement to register skunks. There are a few breeders from whom skunks are available. Prices vary from around €150 to €400, (600–1600 Polish zloty).

United States[edit]

American laws on skunk ownership vary significantly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Most states prohibit keeping skunks as pets.American skunk dealers earning more than $500 a year on the skunk trade are regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA/APHIS), which has established three classes of licensed skunk dealers.Skunk regulations can change from time to time, so prospective skunk owners may want to check with the Fish and Game Commission or Department of Conservation and Natural Resources in their state.

Politics[edit]

Several activistsIn 2001, Del. George W. Owings III introduced a bill in the Maryland legislature to legalize pet skunks in that state.Rabies has, in fact, been a key issue in skunk-related legislative debates. Since wild skunks account for the second-largest number of rabies cases in wildlife in the US, many legislators have been reluctant to allow domestic skunks without an appropriate vaccine on the market. In addition to the problems at the state level, federal organizations set the policy for dealing with accidental skunk bites, which currently requires euthanizing the animal so rabies tests can be performed.In February 1990, a rabies vaccine called Imrab 3 was approved for ferrets.In the early 2000s, People for Domestic Skunks gathered more than 4,000 signatures for its Nationwide Domestic Skunk Petition.In Canada, Mike Freeman of Freeman’s Exotic Skunks was ordered in 1999 by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources to destroy his entire stock of 100 adult and 700 baby skunks. Although the agency had approved his farm in 1997, the 1998 Fish and Wildlife Act outlawed breeding. Natural Resources Minister John Snobelen ultimately gave him six months to sell or give away the animals in the U.S., saying, “No one wants to see these animals euthanized and that won’t have to happen”.Skunks as Pets Canada leader Vivianne Chernoff and other activists subsequently persuaded the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to legalize importation of pen-bred skunks. Although NRC does not recognize the CFIA laws, the CFIA assured Chernoff that NRC cannot confiscate a micro-chipped skunk whose legality is documented with import papers and a health certificate. In 2004, Canadian activists were working on having a tear duct rabies test legalized for skunks.In the United Kingdom, the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons recommended in 1987 that elective skunk scent gland removal be classified as an unacceptable procedure.