Many people who are curious or are looking for an exotic pet think that skunks may be the pet to choose. Skunks can be friendly, cuddly, trouble free pets; they can also be exasperating, costly, terrors.
A skunk can be a costly pet, especially the first year. Skunk kits cost between $150 and $500, and spay or neuter can cost up to $250. Add to that the costs for food, cage(s), litter boxes, bed(s), toys, daily diet supplements, and other costs.
Verify that it is legal to own a pet skunk where you live. Many states have restrictions or special requirements, some cities also restrict keeping pet skunks inside the city limits. Don't buy a skunk without first checking your state and local wildlife and health regulations. Information on legal states is available on our Legal States page and at Aspen Skunk Rabies Research, Inc. Most states that do allow owning a pet skunk require maintaining state wildlife permits.
Buy from a licensed breeder or dealer. Dealers are required to have a valid APHIS-USDA license to sell skunks (considered wildlife animals), there are no state or local exemptions to the Federal laws governing sale of APHIS-USDA controlled animals. Most states also have state breeder/dealer permits that are required. Buying from "backyard breeders" may foster trade in wild-born animals and can affect further sales for legal breeders and dealers.
Make sure you have a vet willing to take care of a skunk before you get one, many vets will not care for skunks. In addition, ask the question, "What would you do if my skunk bites you or someone on your staff?" Skunks have paid the ultimate price for biting.
Schedule shots for your new skunk, we suggest Schering-Plough Galaxy D, DA2PPv, or DA2PPvL+CV (for dogs) or Eclipse 4 (for cats). Off-label use of these vaccines, although not officially approved, is assumed to provide some protection against distemper and parvo. Other vaccines (Fer-Vac, Fel-O-Vax, Duramune, Vanguard, and others) have been known to cause adverse reactions in skunks or cause other problems requiring veterinary care. We recommend giving shots every two years, do not over vaccinate your skunk!
THERE ARE NO APPROVED RABIES VACCINES FOR SKUNKS. Some vets will suggest you give the skunk rabies shots, but this does NOT prevent the health department from taking your skunk if it bites someone. Do NOT let people pet your skunk on the face, head, neck, paws, or tail. ALWAYS hold the skunk's head and let people touch the BACK only.
It is very important that you have your skunk neutered. This should be done between 4 to 6 months of age depending on weight and health. Failure to do so can cause behavior problems, can be extremely stressful, and can cause health problems for the skunk.
|Male Neuter - One Day After||Female Spay - One Day After|
If not spayed some females can go into a constant heat, they may pee or leave puddles on the floor. If a male skunk is not netured he may start dribbling pee on the floor. Some skunks may be agressive. Skunks CAN go into heat as early as nine months of age.
Vets should use isoflurane gas when doing surgery on your skunk. Surgical glue has performed well to secure wounds an prevents unnecessary scratching and infection.
Skunks can climb, especially young skunks. Fractures and internal injuries can easily occur if the skunk falls. Don't think that you can leave food out on the table or counter if there is any chance that your skunk can get to it. Skunks have pushed chairs, moved boxes, climbed up the box to the chair to the table and been found happily sitting on the table munching on snacks left out. They are especially good at wedging themselves in a tight space to climb up several feet to somewhere they want to be.
Do not use Lysol, Carpet Fresh, Fabreze, or plug in air freshener. Be careful with household cleaners! Many of these items can be toxic to any small animal.
Prepare foods daily. A skunk's digestive system can not properly digest most processed foods.
A balanced variety of foods is best, vegetables, cooked grains, small portions of chicken or turkey, and small amounts of fruit.
Make sure your skunk eats regularly. Never let a skunk go a day without eating. Try favorite foods, meat, fruit, yogurt. If your skunk won't eat, force feed pureed foods if necessary.
Skunks need extra taurine and calcium. Try to use foods that provide calcium as well as other vitamins and minerals.
Get your skunk's blood work done. The minimum test is called Complete Blood Count and Serum Chemistry Profile. You can use that as a base-line to go by with your skunk, your vet should check the results and make necessary recommendations. A routine X-ray in later years is a good idea too.
Skunks should be wormed with a safe wormer like Evict, Nemex2, Panacur, or one you may get from your vet. Make sure you worm your skunk.
Note: Wormers containing piperazine (piperazine citrate) have caused tremors, seizures, vomiting, and have been indicated as factors in several deaths, in skunks. Erliworm is a common brand of pet wormer containing piperazine.
|Roundworm being expelled|
Nails should be cut about every month, some skunks require trimming more often. Use large nail clippers or nail trimmers for dogs and cats, be careful not to cut the quick, have flour or styptic powder ready.
|Nails Much Too Long||Cutting Nails||Properly Cut Nails|
The pads of your skunk's paws may get cracked or scaly (especially during dry periods) and may need extra care. We use Udderly SMOOth cream or Bag Balm ointment to help soften and heal the pads.
NEVER leave your skunk outside unattended. They have no homing instincts like dogs or cats and will wander away, it is rare that they come back before something bad happens. With no scent glands to protect themselves, they are very vulnerable to predators.
Health problems include rectal prolapse, seizures, diabetes, liver disease, kidney failure, heart problems, calcium deficiency, excessive weight, allergies, general mal-nutrition, etc. With proper care most of these can be corrected BEFORE the problem starts.
© 2001-2009 Skunk Haven™ Skunk Rescue, Shelter, and Education, Inc.
Revised 04/12/09 (kw)
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