WATCH NOW: Did You Know You Can Have a Skunk as a Pet?
Domesticated skunks are quite lovable non-stinky companions.
Wild skunks are a pest for many homeowners and dog owners, particularly due to their scent glands that leave a strong musky odor that's hard to get rid of. They can also be quite ferocious. Domestic skunks, on the other hand, can make friendly companions and skunk owners say they make good pets.
For more than 60 years, skunks have undergone domestication to be the fun-loving, furry mischief-makers that more and more skunk enthusiasts are welcoming into their homes.
Baby skunks are descented at an early age (male skunks at 3-4 months old, and females at 4-6 months old), so there is never any concern of them letting loose their musky spray. Some people debate that de-scenting is inhumane, akin to de-barking, de-clawing, tail docking, and ear pinning. However, many veterinarians admit it is a simple procedure much like a spay or neuter.
The skunk pet diet is a mix of fruit, veggies, and animal protein, including insects, fish, and poultry. Some skunk foods like Skunkie Delight add ground turkey to their mix. Mealworms are especially tasty and easy to breed yourself to cut down on costs.
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 are very cuddly and playful animals, offering hours of free entertainment for their pet parents. Pet skunks do have a tendency to get into things, though, much like wild skunks enjoy getting into garbage.
As curious diggers, they might scratch up your home with its claws and sharp teeth if it's not skunk-proofed. It is best to have a special play area for your skunk when unsupervised. This play area can be filled with toys and blankets to engage their curiosity and cuddly nature.
Also make sure that they stay inside, or are supervised when they go out in the yard. Skunks, like ferrets, lack homing instincts and can get lost easily. De-scented skunks are also missing their key defense mechanism: spraying.
Skunks can also be taught to go to the bathroom in a litter box. Just put the litter pan in a corner that they choose to go to the bathroom in. If the skunk misses the corner, try putting small amounts of vinegar on their accident spots so they associate that with something that smells bad.
Wild skunks only have a lifespan of about three years, but pet skunks have been known to live up to 10 years.
Before thinking about getting a pet skunk, make sure they are legal to own in your area. Check out a list of exotic animal laws in your state. Skunks are a rabies vector species just like dogs and cats, but because the species still has an active wild population, some states prohibit domestic skunks. There is no approved rabies vaccine in the U.S., though it is rare for a domestic skunk to contract the infection.
Most states like Ohio, Florida, New Jersey, and Indiana allow skunks to be kept as pets as long as you have a permit. In some states, like Alabama, it is completely legal to keep the skunk if it was bred in the state. Before thinking about getting a pet skunk, check state laws and make sure they are legal to own in your area. Here is a list of exotic animal laws in your state.
Here are some skunk owners around the world to get you inspired:
Skunk ownership is not to be taken lightly, and skunk care, like for all pets, is a 24/7 job. Unfortunately, many pet skunks are abandoned when prospective owners cannot care for them. There are skunk rescues, most notably Skunk Haven in Ohio which hosts the annual Skunk Fest.
What do you think about skunks as pets? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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