Your New Skunk

A cage of six-week old skunks
Six-week old skunk kits

Skunk-Proof Your Home - Consider your new kit like having a toddler in your home.

Skunks will dig at corners, closed doors, or anywhere they smell food. They can be very persistant and will ruin carpet, wallpaper, painted surfaces, etc.

Never leave a skunk in a room with an open window. Be sure your outside doors close tightly and your family knows that it is a must to keep them closed. Skunks often have a fascination with wanting to know what's on the other side of a door and once they get outside, you may never find them again.

You Must Find A Vet willing to care for your skunk. Not all vets are willing to treat domestic skunks. Emergencies come about quickly. Always have your vet's phone number handy. More information on our First Aid and Vet Care page.

Bonding - Spend as much time as you can with the baby. This is extremely important. The more you hold it and talk to it, the better. Rub its teeth and mouth. This makes future oral exams easier. Play with its feet, this will help make toenail clipping easier. Wear an old shirt (no strong perfumes, etc.) and then put it in the cage to familiarize your skunk kit to your scent.

Housing - In the beginning you can put your new arrival in a bathroom or large cage with litter boxes, blankets, and toys. Slowly introduce your skunk to the rest of your home. If you have any other pets, never leave them alone until you are sure your baby will not be killed.

Feeding - 5 weeks old - If the teeth are not well established, you can bottle feed your baby a mixture of goat milk diluted with water and dry baby cereal. Goat milk can be bought at most grocery stores in the dairy section or the canned milk section. Feedings should be at least five times a day to prevent seizures from hypoglycemia.

Be sure to dilute the goat milk as this can cause diarrhea. If your skunk is shaking, food and warmth will give comfort.

Feed a balbanced diet, if you feed your skunk just veggies then your skunk may have poor bones in the future and will not walk. After approximately 6-7 weeks, slowly try introducing vegetables cut up fine, cooked chicken, natural dog food, small amounts of yogurt, cottage cheese, Cheerio's, and other grains. If it is reluctant to eat the solids, soak in diluted goat milk. Skunks need PROTEIN!

If you are occasionally not home for feeding times you can buy an automatic feeder for you skunk.If you have multiple skunks they should be separated for meals so each gets a known amount of food/nutrition.

You may want to add colostrum, Rep-Cal Ultrafine Powder with Vit. D3, Vitamin C, B-complex vitamins, and Nutra-cal or Pet Tinic, to the formula (goat milk). You can buy Skunk Milk mix from Fox Valley Nutrition 800-679-4666.

At 6 to 7 weeks, slowly try starting on veggies cut up fine, cooked chicken, natural dog food, small amounts of yogurt, cottage cheese, Cheerios, and other grains, Skunkie Delight.

If it is reluctant to eat the solids, add some of the cereal and goat milk mixture or spray with I Can't Believe It's Not Butter!.

All skunks need calcium and taurine. Supplements like Rep-Cal are available in most pet stores; taurine capsules or tablets are available in health food stores.

Try giving a vitamin. (Nu-Cat, Missing Link, or another quality vitamin supplement)

Always monitor the stools, they should be firm, not runny.

You should feed your baby the four or five feedings until they are 4 months old then slowly decrease feedings to twice a day by a year old.

More information is available on our Nutrition and Diet page and our Food page.

Worming , Seizures, Fecal Testing - Have a fecal test done as soon as possible! Make sure young kits are checked for coccidia and other protozoa as well as parasites.
Coccidiosis has been the cause of several deaths of skunk kits in recent years.

It is common for skunks to NOT test positive for roundworms even when severely infested. Worming is always recommended when getting a skunk. Follow the label directions on the wormer for proper dosage and treatment regimen. One or two wormings will not rid the skunk of worms. Use a wormer recommend by a vet like Panacur or Strongid. You can also buy effective wormers such as EvictDS (Double Strength) or Nemex-2 from most pet supply stores (do not use Erliworm). After the first series of worming you should worm every 4 to 6 months. More information on our Worms and Parasites page.

Baby skunks may have seizures. Use Karo corn syrup or pancake syrup in the corner of the mouth to get the skunk out of the seizure. It's always a good idea to keep a syringe with syrup handy. It's a fast, easy way to put the syrup in the skunk's mouth. Increase feedings! If the seizures are reoccurring or long lasting, contact your vet. More information on our Seizures page. The seizures could also be related to low calcium. Blood work must be done to see it this is the case. If the seizures are reoccurring or long lasting, contact your vet. If epilepsy is diagnosed, Phenobarbital can be prescribed.

Rectal Prolapse - Babies sometimes have rectal prolapse (intestines come out of rectum). You can use KY Jelly mixed with Preparation-H. Slowly push the prolapse back into the rectum. Another approach is to try coating the intestines with a paste made from sugar with a small amount of water. This will shrink the intestines and they will go back inside.

Prolapse could be a sign of worms or diarrhea or another problem. Stop feeding veggies and increase fiber, dog food or chicken for a few days. Again, consult your vet if the problem persists. More information on our Rectal prolapse page.

Potty Training - Begin training your young skunk to use a litter box/pan as soon as it arrives. Skunks will usually use a corner and can be easily trained. If you watch the corner(s) they want to use and place litter pans in those places, they will learn to go in the pan, not on the floor. To aid in training try cutting puppy training pads into 2-inch squares and put into the litter box. Secure the pan to the wall. Some skunks will refuse to use a litter pan or litter box, try an old dish drain tray or flat tray with newspaper.

Play Time And Behavior Management - Kits are full of energy and want to run and play of all the time. Train your skunk to be up early during the daytime and sleep at night.

Skunks enjoy playing with you and your other pets too. Pet skunks have unusual play - they run around then stop and stomp their front paws, they turn in almost a U-shape as if they are about to spray, some play hide and chase, all in good fun. It can be confusing for a new skunk owner, standing in one place and stomping is typically a threat, but running toward, or away from, another and stomping is typically play behavior. Don't be threatened, the key is to treat every interaction as play (especially with yearling skunks), your new skunk will soon learn to understand your methods of play and your level of acceptance.

Young kits can play very rough with other skunks their age or older ones as well. Older skunks may get irritated and inflict a severe bite to the young one.

Young skunks love to play bite, and it can be a problem. It may be fun and cute, but don't encourage it. As they grow, so do their teeth! Toes are a great attraction to chase around the house. You may have to wear slippers or shoes if your skunk is a toe biter. Train your skunk to know that biting is not something you will tolerate.

Options to consider for inappropriate behavior: A loud firm "No", then squirt them with water, a loud firm stomp on the floor, apply Bitter Apple or Bitter Lime on your feet and hands to stop biting.

The best punishment is to put the skunk up for a short "time-out" (after being told "No"). We've found that a large plastic kitchen trash bin or plastic trash can works well (leave the lid off), but make sure it's braced so your skunk can't tip the can over and escape. This also prevents negative association with the skunk's sleeping area or cage/carrier. Skunks are smart enough to associate being punished for doing something wrong.

Shots - Your new pet skunk should have distemper shots after it's eight weeks old. We suggest Galaxy Da2PPV because we have not had any adverse reactions with it. The first shot of the series should be given at least two weeks prior to spay/neuter to reduce stress on the skunk. Watch for any unusual behavior for several days after being vaccinated.

Do not over-vaccinate your skunk. Rabies shots will not prevent your skunk from being tested for rabies if it bites someone.

Neutering - A skunk should be 4 to 6 months old when it is spayed/neutered; the overall health and weight should be considered. Males should be neutered after the testicles drop, you should be able to see the small lumps under the skin.


Deborah Cipriani
deb@skunkhaven.net
440-327-4349
24/7 Support

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