Exotic Pets: Skunks

Skunks are not commonly kept as pets in most areas, but in areas where they are allowed they are becoming popular and trendy. Obviously the main concern is smell, but skunks can be descented and when tame are not likely to spray anyhow. There are many things to consider if you are interested in becoming a skunk owner.

How to Select and Buy a Pet Skunk

As with all pets, skunks should ideally be purchased directly from a breeder, and never at a pet store. Breeders can be found through visiting exotic pet shows and exhibitions. Some skunk breeders advertise skunks for sale in magazines devoted to exotic pets, or even in cat and dog magazines. Another source to skunk breeders is by contacting veterinarians in the area as they may know who breeds them. Occasionally veterinarians may even become involved with a litter of kits when somebody runs over the mother animal.

On occasion pet skunks are surrendered to the local animal shelter or humane society, so an interested person can check there or leave their name on a waiting list. Some fur farms sell off excess animals but these will not be tame at the time of purchase.

Never accept a kit that is under 6 weeks of age, 8 is preferred. Be sure they are eating on their own and look healthy. The process of picking a young skunk is no different than selecting a kitten or pup. The eyes should be clear, and the fur should be clean. The facilities should be clean and you should be allowed to meet the parent animals. They should be vaccinated and dewormed prior to the sale.

Be sure skunks are legal as pets where you live prior to searching for one. This also means that if you rent your home you have landlord permission.

File:Skunk being cuddled.jpg

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Behavior Considerations

Skunks behavior is between that of a ferret and cat, leaning a bit more to the ferret side. They are intelligent, mischievous, and are normally nocturnal. They are curious with a great sense of smell and will follow their noses wherever it takes them (even trying to dig up old smells in carpets). They can be trained to use a litter box, and if caged should have one in the corner. When allowed loose in the house they should have a litter box too. They may decide to use an other area for their waste, so the owner needs to move the litter box to that spot.

Skunks will become tame only through regular handling, so a person with very little time to devote to their pet should not consider getting a skunk.  This is also an other reason why you should buy from a good breeder not a pet store.

Skunks are near sighted, which is why they often get hit by cars.

DSCF0211 by PU Skunk.

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Feeding

Little research has been done on proper diets for skunks. You may be able to find prepared foods for them, but most owners simply have to come up with their own food. If a proper skunk diet is not available you may make due with cat or ferret food. Regardless of what kind of kibble you feed (be it skunk food, cat food, or ferret food) the pet should have some fresh food too.

Some people have found that skunks get too fat on cat or ferret food and instead feed top quality dog food and add taurine at 200mg a day because dog food does not contain taurine, which skunks do require.

Skunks love eggs (boiled are less messy), yogurt, and vegetables, but should not have asparagus or onions.

More information on feeding a skunk can be found here.

Skunks need fresh water but do not drink a lot.  Provide your skunk with a non-tip bowl.

Housing and Care of a Pet Skunk

Many people keep their skunks caged for the majority of the day and allow it out to play. If litter trained, it can be out of the cage all the time. The minimum cage space for a skunk is the same as a ferret, they need large cages with multiple levels. This is because they are intelligent and will be stressed if kept in a smaller cage as many rabbits and guinea pigs are. I would not even suggest keeping a pet skunk unless you can afford 2 hours a day to let it out of the cage.

They should not be taken outside unless harness trained as they will try to look for a way out of the yard due to their curious nature, and unlike cats and dogs, do not try to find their way home.

A pet skunk needs regular veterinarian care. Males can be neutered at 4 months of age, and females can be spayed at 6 months of age. The can be descented, vaccinated, and dewormed, and your vet can discuss further when these can be done. You will want to note that in some places, such as the UK, descenting is illegal, however skunks use their scent as a last resort if threatened.  Be sure to find a vet that is familiar with caring for skunks.

Skunks use their claws to pick up their food, so should never be declawed, they can have their claws trimmed.

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Other Points on Skunk Care

When checking into the legality of keeping skunks as pets in your area you should note there are different types of skunks, some may be legal, others may not.

It is generally never legal to catch a wild skunk and keep it as a pet.

Skunks do not tolerate rough handling or discipline and may become aggressive when treated poorly.

Alternative pets would be Ferrets, Cats, or Rats.

Related Links

Skunk Facts and Information

Pet Ferrets

Pet Cats

Pet Rats

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User Comments
  1. drelayaraja

    On June 20, 2010 at 6:09 am

    unique pets indeed. Not found in India,..

  2. Ruby Hawk

    On June 20, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    they are cute little creatures but as a person who has had dogs sprayed by skunks I would be very wary.

  3. Jewelstar

    On June 20, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    cute and adorable skunks. They have a resemblance like a dog.

  4. Emmie

    On June 20, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    Hi,

    I have always thought of Skunks as smelly creatures but your article has really enlightened me and i suppose they are similar to ferrets- which i love, so you have taught me something.

    Emmie

  5. martie

    On June 20, 2010 at 10:11 pm

    Great article. I always wanted a pet skunk but they are not legal here. Also if a mother skunk is killed the litter is put down in this state because skunks are a huge carrier of rabbies here and the state has determined rescuing them is too high risk.

  6. Jo Oliver

    On June 21, 2010 at 2:35 am

    oh…Mark. I think I will live this pet for you and B;)))

  7. Likha

    On June 21, 2010 at 6:48 am

    Very informative but I personally wouldn’t have one as a pet

  8. hope2010

    On June 23, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    pet skunks one of the most popular is from the exotic nutrition pet company’s skunk diet, skunk nutritional supplements and a canned insect diet for any protein-craving exotic pet.

  9. clay hurtubise

    On June 24, 2010 at 8:54 pm

    Nice piece.
    I’ve been told I smell like one… :)
    Thanks,
    Clay

  10. CHAN LEE PENG

    On June 24, 2010 at 10:18 pm

    Well, skunk is an unusual pet but it needs special care to maintain its healthy survival. Thanks and liked it.

  11. Starpisces

    On June 26, 2010 at 12:10 pm

    I have never heard of shunks, I now learn something new, great information here, interesting and well written, friend.
    :)

  12. nobert soloria bermosa

    On June 28, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    they’re cute,,,but i thought i’ll never have them for pets

  13. postpunkpixie

    On August 21, 2010 at 10:30 am

    Aw, they look really cute. I’ve never seen one, obviously we don’t get them wild over here and they don’t tend to keep them in zoos, but they look adorable and they must be very interesting creatures to keep.

  14. haley

    On August 4, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    i only have one skunk! i want more now

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