Reprinted with permission from
Jane Bone - The Skunklady ™
© Copyright 1980, 1983, 1985, 1987, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1995
All Rights Reserved
IS A SKUNK YOUR NEXT PET? or DO YOU CURRENTLY OWN ONE?
If you have said yes to either question, here is some highly important valuable information that you should know. Prepare yourself for problems unless you educate yourself and family members on raising and living with a skunk. Skunks have unique personality, health and dietary considerations that you should be aware of if your skunk is to become a member of your family. A baby skunk is not a puppy or a kitten, but an intelligent animal with its own set of natural actions and strange reactions!
The baby skunk you buy from a pet store is about 4 to 8 weeks old, descented and VERY SCARED, as you would be if you were in this baby skunk's place. You have just been pulled from your Mom, brothers and sisters, rapidly descented, packed in a crate, thrown on a plane, flown to wherever and dropped in a pet shop with two-legged creatures that do not even speak fluent Skunkaneese! This could be you--suddenly beamed from your living room to the middle of Japan. Would you not be a little upset?
BABY SKUNKS ARRIVE AT THE PET SHOPS WITH ALL THEIR REPRODUCTIVE ORGANS INTACT! THEY HAVE ONLY HAD THEIR SCENT GLANDS REMOVED! THEY REQUIRE SPAYING, NEUTERING, DOG SHOTS, CAT SHOTS AND WORMING. DO NOT LET ANYONE RISK THE LIFE OF YOUR SKUNK WITH MISINFORMATION!!
Karo Syrup, Pancake Syrup and Gatorade or Bene-Bac by Borden will help at this time of shock and fear. You may have to hold your baby skunk by the scruff of the neck and drop a few drops of these fluids into its mouth. Some advanced planning before bringing this baby skunk home will help it to adjust sooner to you and it's new environment.
THE MORE YOU HOLD AND CUDDLE A BABY SKUNK--THE NICER SKUNK IT WILL BE LATER!
HANDLING AND PLAYING WITH BABY SKUNKS
Baby skunks love to play! Unlike other animals, such as dogs or cats, playing rough will cause your baby to become very aggressive and a biter as it grows older. NEVER play rough with your hands and NEVER discipline your skunk by hitting or swatting.
Use a stuffed toy or hand puppet when playing with your skunk to help protect your fingers. Skunks have sharp teeth and extremely long fangs that can seriously injure you during rough play or when being aggressive. Use your bare hands for loving and cuddling your baby.
FEET AND MOUTHS
From the very first day, it is imperative that you rub, fondle and play with your skunks feet and toes. You will later want to cut its toenails and if you don't play with its feet NOW, you won't be able to cut its toenails later!
You must also rub and play with its mouth and lips a great deal to lay the groundwork for giving your baby medicines later, should the need arise. Kiss your skunk, rub its mouth, tweak its tongue and nose, brush its teeth with a pet toothbrush now and avoid problems later! You can find pet toothbrushes and toothpaste at pet stores and your vets office.
SPANKING OR HITTING A BIG NO NO!
Discipline should be the tone and volume of your voice. Never use your hands, rolled newspaper, fly swatter, etc, because, even though skunks don't see very well, their ears and nose work extremely well and their intellect tells them that YOU were at the end of that thing that just hit them. Remember, skunks never forget, nor do they forgive! You have never before dealt with an animal as smart as a skunk, unless you have had two year olds in your life.
The more you gently handle and fondle your baby skunk, the more docile it will be when it grows up. The more you hold and talk to a baby skunk, the more love will come your way from this skunk as it grows. More homes have been cleaned, meals prepared or football games watched with a baby skunk snuggled inside a T-shirt tucked into a waistband, than you could ever imagine. Being this close to you, the baby skunk will learn that it is great to be part of your family as you protect it, calm it down, feeling warm and wonderful all over that you are its new Mom or Dad! Be aware of where your baby skunk is in relation to your feet. Baby skunks are very easy to step on. They only know that your feet are part of you and they want to be near you, feet and all.
If you have never watched a herd of baby skunks playing together you will not understand the term "REAR BRAKES", so let me explain the term--in a way that you will understand the charging, stomping whirlwind coming at you. The tail is flared out like a Christmas Tree, it may or may not be doing the "Skunk Shuffle" as it makes sort of a snorting/coughing sound, the front feet suddenly stop but the rear legs keep going, causing the skunk to almost fall forward on its little nose, therefore, it has no REAR BRAKES.
Do not be alarmed by the furry blur that has just shown signs of brake problems. It is not mad or angry, it is not trying to attack you, your skunk simply wants to play and this is part of the play ritual for skunks. In all the years I have been with skunks I have never seen a skunk injure itself falling on its nose. The only possible answer to this Rear Brake problem could be Cement Boots for the rear legs.
BABY SKUNK BEDROOMS
Find a dark, relatively quiet place in your home to be used as the skunk's bedroom, such as a bathroom, an empty cabinet or very large box that a console TV or household appliance came in. Skunks AT ANY AGE confined to a small space for extended periods of time will become bad biters and aggressive. Allow your skunks to be with you, watch TV and roam the house as much as possible. If you had only a few feet to walk in and the same old four walls to look at, would you be a happy camper? If you do use your bathroom for the baby skunk's bedroom, be sure to keep the toilet lid down to prevent drowning. Remove all harmful items and cleaning materials from under the sink if the cabinet can be easily opened.
Old towels, clothing, sheets or blankets make perfect snugglies, as they can be washed and kept clean. Give them plenty of snugglies or they will steal your socks and T-shirts or you could wake up very cold one morning just because your skunk has removed all cover from your body to make a warm wonderful nest for them. Don't try to make their bed for them. It is great fun to watch them rearrange their new home as they transport very large blankets or what ever from one end of your house to the other. You will not believe a 3 pound skunk pulling a king size bedspread as they walk backwards and shoving the bedspread under them.
FOOD AND WATER BOWLS
Heavy, easy to clean bowls that cannot be easily turned over are best. Wide, shallow pans or casserole dishes work well. Fresh, clean water should be available at all times.
Skunks are naturally very clean animals and "corner trained" instinctively. The baby WILL chose its own corner! For now, accept your skunk's choice. Place several thicknesses of newspaper or a litter pan with UNSCENTED kitty litter in the corner your skunk has chosen. (Placing a plastic garbage bag on the floor under the newspaper will make clean-up easier.) If it has an accident and doesn't make it to its corner, remove offense and saturate the area with plain white vinegar. You must pour enough so that the carpet, the padding and the floor underneath get soaked. As the vinegar dries, the odor is neutralized and your skunk should not return to that spot. The vinegar should not harm your carpets and your home will smell like a salad for only about 10 minutes. Keep the area that your skunk has chosen cleaned regularly since skunks will avoid a smelly bathroom.
With a lot of patience and a fair amount of time, you can move his or her bathroom to a place more acceptable to you. Each day, move the newspaper or litter pan 4 inches toward a corner you can let the skunk have as a bathroom. If you are lucky, he will follow. If not, give in gracefully, let him have his corner and block the view with a chair or bookcase placed catty-cornered or some other decorative idea. Learning to live with a skunk DOES involve compromise, usually on your part.
On a weekly basis, clean the litter box or floor with a solution of 1/4 cup of Clorox to 1 gallon of warm water. This formula will not cause health problems or damage your skunk's lungs and should not damage your carpet.
Use safe, chewable toys like Ping-Pong balls, tennis balls, brown paper bags, cardboard boxes, old socks with knots tied in them, and an absolute favorite-very fuzzy stuffed toys. Be sure that your skunk cannot accidentally chew off and swallow portions of the toy, such as the eyes.
Find a vet who does not mind working with skunks and has worked with them in the past. Be VERY CHOOSY in your decision for a good vet. This is the person who will help you keep your baby healthy and happy for many years. Ask the prospective vet: "What will you do if my skunk bites someone on your staff?" Your skunk may not be safe if it accidentally bites someone. It could be killed and tested for Rabies if this should happen, so save yourself much pain--ASK! We have a few vets listed who work with us who may help you or could help find a vet in your area.
ALL SKUNKS HAVE ROUNDWORMS. Even if they are not found in fecal testing, they are in your skunk's body and he must be wormed once a month. We recommend Evict or Nemex 2 liquid dog wormers. Your vet probably uses Strongid, which is "prescription strength" If you prefer the All Natural way you can use seeds from Cantaloupe, Fig Juice or Cloves. These will not harm your skunk in any way and are very safe to use.
Symptoms are rubbing bottoms on the floor, bad breath, coughing, lack of appetite, bloating, hiccups and rectal prolapse. The problem with roundworms and skunks is you cannot kill the round worms until they attach themselves to the intestine. Some round worms just float around in the blood stream filling up the lungs and heart and it is so common in the animal world to have roundworms that people just forget how serious a problem this can be.
If you have a flea problem your skunk could have Tapeworms. All it takes is for a skunk to swallow a flea while grooming their fur. The signs are: eats like a horse and loses weight, loses hair and is not very active. In the years I have had skunks only two have had tapeworms to show up in fecal testing. This worm problem will have to be handled by your vet. (PS-the Tapeworm Shot works best.) In about two days after being treated, skunks appear to have taken the Magic Formula! They are eating, looking good and they act as if they feel better. It will not harm your skunk, so if by some strange outside chance your skunk has a bad case of the blahs have them treated for Tapeworms.
REQUIRED SKUNK SHOTS
Baby skunks require a series of shots that should begin as soon as you get your skunk. Both canine and feline shots are needed for baby skunks as young as four weeks of age. Don't be fooled by misinformation about shots for your skunk as it could cost their life! More skunks have died needlessly from things they can't get and won't have, such as Feline Distemper, Canine Distemper, Parvo or Corona virus, than you could believe. Unless you live in a hermetically sealed house, never open doors or windows, never go out and come in, YOUR ANIMALS NEED SHOTS!! Many viruses and bacteria are airborne: therefore, it is imperative that they be protected. It is painful knowing that you could have prevented the death with a simple shot.
The currently recommended vaccines are: Galaxy DA2PPvL+Cv and Eclipse 4 given as a baby and then a yearly booster. This information came from the San Diego Zoo after several skunks died from Canine Distemper because of being given the wrong vaccine. We have documented cases of skunk deaths due to Feline Distemper, as recently as 1993. These deaths can be prevented by proper immunization! IMMUNIZE YOUR SKUNK PROPERLY! REMEMBER--A HAPPY, HEALTHY SKUNK BEGINS WITH YOU!!! Proper medical care is better for your skunk and better for your pocketbook in the long run.
SKUNK PROOFING YOUR HOME
For the safety of your skunk, these things must be done immediately! They are not expensive, they are just practical.
CABINETS: Child-proof locks will keep skunks out of unacceptable cabinets. Use the simple screen door latches, they work better for adults.
POTTED PLANTS: Must be kept out of the reach of skunks. Some house plants are toxic! They will also dig all of the dirt out of the pots just to see what is in the bottom.
PURSES, SCHOOL BAGS, ETC: Skunks will remove the contents and scatter everything all over the house. Keep them off the floor and out of harm's way.
VENTS TO THE OUTSIDE: Dryer vents, air- conditioning vents or any other vents that lead to the outside must be secured! A baby skunk can flatten itself enough to crawl between the vent and the wall. A dryer vent is unceremoniously pulled off and out through the hole they go.
A SKUNK THAT ESCAPES TO THE OUTSIDE IS RARELY FOUND!!
CERAMICS OR GLASSWARE: Keep these very high and away from the reach of your skunk's little paws. Skunks will pull things off tables, shelves or any low area that they can reach.
NOT THE PUPPY--NOT THE KITTY
Baby skunks are not puppies or kittens and can't be raised as such! They were rejects from a fur farm and require more handling than puppies or kittens. When you first get your baby skunk, hold it as much as it will allow, in your arms, in your lap or tucked inside your shirt. This will help the skunk to know you, forming a stronger bond. This is also the time to start hand-feeding your skunk so that it will learn to avoid your fingers at treat time. Commonly used treats are grapes, apple slices, raisins, dog biscuits, etc. Feed them treats that they enjoy, but that are also healthy for them, but definitely feed them in moderation. Physical discipline and rough-housing can create a mean and aggressive animal. While rough-housing with a 1 pound baby may be cute, when he weighs 8 pounds and has fangs 1/2 inch long, it will not be nearly as cute. Though they may not see extremely well, his nose and ears will tell him that you are the one that hurt him, even if you are on the end of a fly swatter or newspaper. Use a loud voice or other loud noise, such as a hair dryer or Dust Buster or try a squirt from a water gun or plant misting bottle. Skunks are super intelligent, they never forget and never forgive!
NO HOMING INSTINCTS
Skunks are naturally curious and very agile--a deadly combination. You must learn to exist in a skunk-proofed home. Keep doors and cabinets closed, keep clothes and linens off the floors (or they will disappear!). Even dryers, refrigerators and dishwashers are to be explored (they all smell like food), so be careful and watchful at all times.
Being naturally curious, if a skunk escapes outside, it will not return on its own. It just follows its nose to wherever. Pet skunks are rarely recaptured or returned to the owner. Since it has no defenses and the scent glands have been removed, it will probably be killed by dogs or cars. Chase Down The Baby Skunk is not a game that is a lot of fun or a game that ends in joy and happiness for the owner or the skunk!
All skunks have the natural instinct to dig. After all, they dig up much of their food in the wild. Your carpets or walls may be the object of digging. Watch your skunk carefully and discourage this behavior from the beginning. A good squirt from the trusty old water bottle may help, but if not, POUR white vinegar on the spot where the skunk is digging. Something he smells is attracting him to this area with an odor that we can't smell. Even if you shampoo the carpet, the odor remains in the padding or even the wood beneath, so use the vinegar liberally. Some dog repellents might also help, or the use of a hair dryer, Dust Buster, other loud noise. Skunks do not like closed doors and will dig at the door just to find what room is on the other side. A piece of Plexi-glass, plastic carpet runner or the like placed under the door will stop this digging.
Some skunks can climb. MOST outgrow climbing. When people will tell you that skunks can't climb, they mean trees, mountains or stuff like that. However, these are people who have never found a skunk waving to them from a kitchen counter! If your skunk is a climber, keep chairs, stools, bookcases, boxes and ladders away from cabinets, drawers, tables, sofas and chairs or any other place that your skunk finds interesting. Skunks cannot climb trees -- but they can climb into bed with you. If possible, remove the temptations and attempt to distract them from what they are doing. Skunks are very persistent once they have learned how to do something. Skunks generally outgrow most of their bad behavior, usually by their first birthday because they are bottom heavy. Have patience--they are worth it!!
SUNSHINE FOR YOUR SKUNK
Skunks at any and all ages need a little sunshine every day. They prefer afternoon sun to morning sun. Leave the shades or blinds open in the room where they spend the most time, or sit outside with them for a good brushing, thereby killing 2 birds with 1 stone. Skunks benefit from Vitamin D-3, just as you do. Please keep in mind that skunks are prone to heat stroke, which could be fatal, so do not overdo the sun.
Mephitis Mephitis: No, the computer does not have a short-circuit, this is how our skunks are known in the great and wonderful world of Knowledge. Translated from Latin, it means "stinks stinks." In more common usage, it means, "Striped, hooded skunk." Our skunks great, great, great grandparents were on America's shores to welcome Christopher Columbus and the other strange looking four-legged creatures that came with good old Chris. We are living with the only TRUE American Pet -The Skunk!
Skunks are born with many colors, stripe styles, chips, swirls and even solid colors. They may change color as they mature (or they may not!). Gray baby skunks tend to become white adults, but we know of several adult gray skunks. A light brown baby may go through the red spectrum into dark, rich brown as an adult. An albino baby may be cream now, then become blinding white as an adult or stay cream-colored. Then again, a Brunette skunk may stay Brunette all of its life. What this all boils down to is this; you may never know what color your skunk will be. You may only know what color they are right now!
Certain sources classify our skunks as exotic animals. They are not from a foreign country, they are not spices, and they do not dance the striptease. Unusual? Yes! Exotic? NO!!
About 3 to 6 Months Old
Late summer and fall are a most trying time for a young skunk and it's owner -- THE NASTIES BEGIN!
You could avoid most all of the associated problems by having your male skunk neutered by 3 months of age or your female skunk spayed by 4 months of age. Some skunks have entered the heat cycle as early as August, others as late as January. However, you DO NOT want to wait and find out.
The heat cycle can kill your skunk! You cannot compare what you have heard about skunks in the wild to the skunk living in your home. Your skunk is not in the same environment and should be treated differently. The best solution for a healthy skunk, saving a lot of heartbreak or hurt feelings, fingers and toes is to have all skunks spayed or neutered well before they are 6 months old.
Skunks can be sexually mature when they are three months of age, however skunks do not stop growing until they are about 18 months to two years old. This is why no one understands about early heat cycles in skunks. You have to know lots of skunks for long periods of time. Shermie was 3 months old and weighed about 2 pounds when he HAD TO BE NEUTERED! Mimi was 4 months old when she HAD TO BE SPAYED! She was already in full blown heat...,screaming, snapping and biting anything that moved. Mimi only lived for about two years after spaying, however the stress of the heat cycle was too much for her system and she never recovered completely.
Female skunks can and will go in and out of heat for long periods of time. This causes severe stress to their systems, causing serious health problems or even death, as well as behavioral problems. Some early symptoms of impending heat are constant pacing, sudden weight loss, finicky appetite, aggressive, almost savage, behavior and biting. This period should last from 2 to 4 weeks, but could go on even longer. Female skunks are under tremendous physical stress during this time, and are prone to kidney problems, heart attacks or other major health problems if not spayed at about 4 months. If your female skunk appears to have a prolonged and intense cycle, you should have her spayed immediately! Unlike cats, it is safe for a skunk in heat to be spayed. It could take 2 months or 2 years for your female to return to her normal behavior if you wait too long to spay her. Spay all females before their first heat cycle and avoid SKUNK P M S:
P -- PRE, POST, POSSIBLY PERMANENT
M -- MATING
S -- SYNDROME
The attitudes are the same as for a female except that they display even more aggressive behavior and severe biting. Aggressive behavior lasts a much longer time. This can be serious and an extended problem to the owner, since there is no method of controlling this natural behavior. Some male skunks have been known to be serious biters as early as 3 months old. The only solution is to have him neutered. This will not in any way change the personality of your male skunk. He will always be a boy -- just not a bad boy! Male skunks should be neutered when they first begin displaying this aggressive behavior or whenever testicles are first seen, and this could be as early as 3 months of age. Very few un-neutered males make good, gentle-natured pets. If you wait too long to solve this problem, behavior retraining may be the only way to live with your skunk and it may not work.
By the time a skunk reaches 8 months of age, it is considered to be adult, as it has reached sexual maturity and you deserve a medal for completing infant, terrible twos and teen-age behavior in a very short period; however, skunks will not stop growing until they are about 18 months old. You will not know how long, how tall, or what color your skunk may be until this time. This is when the baby problems have all gone, your skunk has been spayed or neutered and you now have a really great pet. Sit back-put your feet on the coffee table and give yourself a big hug for you are truly a very special person.
NORWEGIAN SNOW KITTY
You have recovered from the heart attack you almost had because you thought the burglars were stealing your kitchen, only to find baby skunks, playing in the pots and pans around 4 o'clock in the morning; you are picking up all your clothes as your mother wanted you to do as a child; you are eating healthier; but the one thing that still bugs you as a skunk owner is: "It's a what?" "It smells." It will give a strange disease or all skunks are black and white!
I have found that uninformed questions and answers drive me crazy after all these years. I have found a way for all people to love my skunks just as I do. No more of this loving, stroking my animal, saying how beautiful it is until they find out I am holding a skunk. Suddenly their hand starts to smell, they walk backwards from you holding their hand away from their bodies with a look of horror on their faces. As long as these people think they are loving and stroking a Norwegian Snow Kitty they are impressed. "I must have one, wait until my friends know I played with a real live Norwegian Snow Kitty!" See how simple I just made life for you? It works every time. Norwegian Snow Kitties, (under-cover skunks), will not steal the remote control from the TV and change channels on you. Most important, your friends think you are a very special person now and not crazy enough to live with a skunk. You are blessed now beyond your wildest dreams!
Skunks are not true hibernators, they just take long naps. During the Fall, a skunk should be kept awake and active about 4 or 5 hours a day. Most of our skunks rarely show any signs of hibernating except for the demand for more food. In the Fall, every skunk will instinctively look for more food, as they feel it is time to prepare for their long Winter naps. You must be strong! DO NOT increase the amount of food your skunk is getting no matter what it tells you!! This is the time that most skunks will keep any extra weight on their body and it is very difficult to get it off until Spring. Since the light bulb came into your skunk's life, it has made its daylight hours longer. Animals know when to take long Winter naps by how much daylight it has in its life. Winter--days are shorter. Summer -- days are longer. Along came Edison with his light bulb and your domestic skunk has no real need to hibernate. We have discovered that most of our skunks prefer to hibernate under our electric blanket. Please keep in mind that you are not living with a wild animal! Your skunk came from a fur farm right into your home and enjoys the same comforts that you do!
If you leave your skunk, leave the radio or TV on. They like it! It keeps them from being lonely and keeps them out of trouble. Some skunks like the Teen-age Mutant Ninja Turtles, X-Men and the Dinosaucers best.
BREEDING DOMESTIC SKUNKS
Skunks are not like any other domestic animal you have ever been around when it comes to breeding or caring for their young. Domestic skunks do not breed well in your homes. All those out there with dog and cat mentality about mama dogs and cats are in for a large, enormous and very painful surprise. To put this in terms that can best be understood by one and all: the question is "had you rather do a Texas Two-Step with a grizzly Bear or be in the same room with a mother skunk?" The answer is, "Start the music!"
Skunks are induced ovulators, which means there is a lot of biting, chewing, bleeding and screaming before they can breed. Females with their young are the most savage animals in the animal kingdom. You cannot hold and fondle the new kittens, you will not know how many, what color or what sex they are, you have lost a good pet and possibly a few fingers and toes. People are used to the behavior of dogs and cats; their feelings are hurt when their lap baby comes growling, snapping, biting and stomping at them when they enter the area with the female and her babies.
Savage behavior is not the only problem. I had 3 females to have babies at one time, accidents do happen. The three moms had 37 kittens. Out of the 37 kittens, 4 survived and of the 3 mothers, 2 survived. It all cost a little over $1,000.00. The cost of all this was much lower than the average pet owner since I had better knowledge of domestic skunks than most and I was able to do most of the care myself. Also, descenting the babies is not easy. You must find a vet who is willing to do descenting. Good luck in your search! These are all very good reasons why I recommend leaving the breeding to breeders and getting your skunk fixed ASAP!! If you still are not convinced, I will let you count my broken fingers, toes and the scars I have from surprise skunk pregnancies. Accidents do happen!
BABY SKUNK FEEDING
RAPID GROWTH SYNDROME ALERT!
Baby skunks weigh about 1 ounce when they come into this world. By the time they are 8 months old, they weigh about 8 pounds, which is about right. The average newborn child has about 16 years to reach its maximum growth. Your baby skunk has 12 to 18 months to grow strong teeth, muscles, bones and organs. It must have calcium, protein and all essential vitamins and minerals in the right proportions to THEIR growth rate, not ours.
Handfuls and bowlsful of dog food and junk food give too much calcium and protein, leading to bad teeth, arthritis, degenerative bone disease and paralysis later in life. Do not be tempted or talked into feeding more protein foods than are recommended here.
4 Weeks To About 12 Weeks
If your baby skunk does not have teeth or is having a hard time chewing solid food, soak Purina O.N.E., Science Diet Canine Growth or Pro-Plan Adult for dogs in canned diluted Goat's milk, K.M.R. or Just Born® Milk Replacer Plus Colostrum from Farnam Pet Products, until it can eat solid foods. All dog food is very hard to soften, so I suggest that you make enough for several days. Chop enough very fine veggies for the same period of time, saving time for you. Canned VegAll works well.
DO NOT EVER, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, FEED CAT FOOD OF ANY KIND, UNLESS ADVISED TO DO SO BY YOUR VET, FOR CERTAIN RARE MEDICAL PROBLEMS!!
All skunks should receive a daily FeloBit vitamin; however, DO NOT USE Aviatron Liquid Vitamins for your skunk. Linatone Plus should be given daily to prevent a D-3 deficiency. Introduce vegetables into your skunk's diet as soon as possible. At birth, a skunk weighs about one ounce and then grows very rapidly. It does not stay a baby very long. Therefore, it does not need to be on baby food or formula for more than 8 weeks. If it is kept on a high protein, high fat diet for very long, your skunk's long-term stay in your life could be endangered.
90% of a skunk's diet, regardless of age, should consist of vegetables. The remaining 10% should consist of fruits, low-fat cottage cheese, low-fat yogurt and either (feed only one at a time, they do not need all three at one meal) boiled chicken, water-packed fish or dog food. They may have certain sweets in small amounts occasionally.
NEVER FEED AN ANIMAL CHOCOLATE OF ANY KIND!! IT CAN KILL THEM!
4 WEEKS TO 8 WEEKS
From 4 to 8 weeks of age, your baby skunk should be fed 4 meals a day as much as it can eat at one time. This is the time of very rapid growth and it needs a good food supply to get up and going on the right track.
Offer a wide variety of vegetables, such as squash, mushrooms, peas, corn, and a few bites of fruit chosen from the lists included in this brochure. At this age, chop the food rather small, maybe into 1/4 inch cubes. Offer low-fat cottage cheese mixed with the vegetables once a day, low-fat yogurt mixed at another meal and maybe finely chopped boiled chicken for supper. A late night snack could maybe be 5 or 6 raisins and a few pieces of popcorn. Be creative and feed a broad spectrum of foods for a happy, healthy skunk.
8 WEEKS TO 12 WEEKS
From 8 to 12 weeks, feed 3 times a day, basically the same diet with greater variations. One, single sugar cookie or 1/4 of a Graham cracker or 1 butter cookie or 1 vanilla wafer can be added to the diet at this time, BUT ONLY ONE! Skunks have a huge sweet tooth, so you must be strong and give only one. The purpose of incorporating a small amount of sugar into their diet is twofold. First, a small sugar is required for the proper absorption of calcium for strong bones and teeth. Second, a tiny amount of sugar seems to help in weight control. Make sure you understand we said ONE cookie, not 1 pound or 1 box!
Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon of non-fat dry milk, such as Carnation, over the food once a day, for additional calcium and the prevention of degenerative bone disease later in life.
EXAMPLE OF DAILY DIET; 10 TO 20 PIECES OF DOG FOOD, 1 1/4 CUPS VEGGIES AND FRUITS, COTTAGE CHEESE, YOGURT AND ONE COOKIE. DIVIDE INTO 4 MEALS!
Morning -- 3 pieces of dog food, 2 or 3 slices of squash, carrot, cucumber, celery and orange slices with cottage cheese.
Noon -- 3 pieces of dog food, 1/4 cup of Shredded Wheat dry cereal, 2 or 3 slices of rutabaga, tomato, bell peppers, a few pods of okra mixed with yogurt.
Night -- 3 pieces of dog food, peas, corn, romaine, a few pieces of cauliflower, 1 Vanilla wafer, 1 Tablespoon rice or pasta, 1/4 teaspoon of nonfat dry milk sprinkled over their food.
Before bedtime snack -- a handful of plain popcorn, 1 dog biscuit, 5-6 raisins, 3 or 4 pieces of dog food.
The above vegetables & fruit suggestions are not etched in stone, therefore, use your own creativity and availability of veggies and fruits in each season. I know of no law that says you cannot buy 1 carrot, 1 squash, 1 artichoke. You can give your skunk a great variety of veggies daily without waste. What would you do if you had to eat only French fries and hamburgers 4 or 5 times a day for the rest of your life? As you are strolling among the veggies at the super market keep in mind, VARIETY IS THE SPICE OF LIFE!
If you are not at home with your baby skunk during the day, just before leaving put the noon meal out. This will teach your skunk that daytime is a wonderful place to be. Your skunk will not be starving when you return home.
Skunks are just like babies, some will eat ten cups full of food while others will not eat all you give them. However, if your baby skunk appears to still be looking for more food, give them some more vegetables. Until you know what amounts of food your skunk will eat, give them enough food to satisfy.
12 WEEKS TO 16 WEEKS
From 12 to 16 weeks: Cut meals down to twice a day with a snack in the morning, late evening or whenever it works for your schedule. This is the time to reduce the amount of dog food to 8 to 10 pieces a day, continue with the dry milk and ONE cookie a day. By now your skunk should be eating just about any vegetable and fruit that the stores can supply. After 4 months, feed 1 meal and 1 snack daily or use the same feeding routine as before but decrease the amount of dog food and give more veggies. You live with your skunk, I do not, if it makes you and your skunk happy to have lunch-by all means give them lunch!
Some skunk owners have found that cauliflower increases stool odor unbelievably. It can also cause odor in some skunks. Experiment with your skunk. If it eats it and then smells, you can leave cauliflower out of the diet. It is a wonderful source of many vitamins and minerals, but so are many other veggies! Substitute something else!
FOUR MONTHS TO THREE YEARS OLD
An adult skunk should only have 15 calories per pound of body weight-that is less than 150 calories a day regardless of age, weight or activity level. Adjust the amount of food to your skunk's weight. Probably the most important factor in maintaining a healthy skunk is proper diet that includes a large assortment of vegetables daily.
Improper diet and obesity have been traced to the majority of premature deaths we have experienced. Skunks DO NOT need cups of food to be very healthy animals. Quite the contrary, A LITTLE GOES A LONG WAY! Vegetables contain very little fats and skunks are mainly vegetarians. Surprise ! Skunks that are fed mainly vegetables just look better. Their coats are very shiny, they appear to be healthier and I have never seen a skunk that is too fat or too thin when fed properly. Love and concern are very powerful tools that can make your skunk perfect in every way. However, too much love can make a skunk too big or too little.
It is very easy for a skunk to become obese. They act as they are never full, will eat almost anything and are always begging for food. The easiest way to control your skunk's weight is to feed it proper amounts of the right foods and give it low fat, low calorie healthy snacks. A filled coffee saucer is a good amount to feed your skunk from the diet sheet in this brochure. Obesity leads to severe liver, heart and kidney damage and we have rarely seen an obese skunk live long even if it loses the weight. A healthy skunk should have a thick, glossy coat, white (not yellow) stripes, bright clear eyes and, above all, not be overweight. Regardless of what your skunk tells you, CONTROL IT'S DIET! You teach the skunk about diet--don't let him teach you. It is far easier to control your skunk's weight before the fact, than to correct it after the fact. One furry, 20 pound basketball with legs and eyes does not look like a skunk but a very unique doorstop.
Please keep in mind that your skunk is not a fashion model and does not have to have the long, lean, slinky look. This too can cause more problems than you could ever dream of, such as, brain damage, nerve damage, stunted growth, and just plain meanness!!! Use your own ideas about the right way to eat when feeding your skunk. Mother always told you to eat a balanced diet and all your veggies and you would grow up to be big and strong ! A two foot, 3 pound skunk is not a pretty sight. It is just plain ugly !
3 YEARS AND ABOVE
As with older dogs and cats (and people, too), skunks need to have their protein, fat and calorie intake lowered. This does not mean starve your skunk to death! Give Lite types of dog food, vegetables, fiber, chicken, water-packed fish, as well as rice and dried beans cooked together. These are proteins that are easily digested by the older animal.
Some of the serious health problems have been solved with these simple diet adjustments. Cleo was 21 1/2 years old and looked and acted like a 1 year old, all because of what we have learned about diet. Cleo did not eat dog food at all after she was about 5 years old.
When I started with skunks the average age of a skunk was maybe 3 and this was thought to be an old skunk, but now more and more knowledge is coming to light and our skunks are living longer and healthier lives. It made me feel very good about the work I have been doing with these animals when for the first time ever there was a SUPER SENIOR CLASS IN THE NATIONAL SHOW FOR TEN YEAR OLD SKUNKS AND ABOVE!
There is no way anyone can force you to follow these suggestions. I only tell you what has worked and is working for mine and hundreds of other skunks.
FOR ALL AGES
For some time skunks have been coming up with problems with their bones and teeth by the time the they are about 3 years old. Paralysis, limps and lost teeth were the way of life when you lived with a skunk. Not any more! With the addition of non-fat dry milk, such as Carnation, Vitamin C and sugar to their daily diet, the problems are becoming fewer and fewer.
Non fat milk, 1 tsp. per day sprinkled over their food, oranges, grapefruit, lime or lemon, Jalapeno peppers (which they love), for natural Vitamin C or a liquid Vitamin C over or in their food, and (very easy way to measure sugar here) ONE vanilla wafer, ONE sugar cookie or 1/4 graham cracker, not the whole box or bag, just one-- these are ways to get their bodies to make use of the calcium for stronger bones, teeth and better looking coats with the prevention of tooth or gum infections made easy, simple and cost effective.
You will hear that your skunk is a hunter and must hunt for food........this is true. It will hunt for the refrigerator, the microwave and you.
DAILY DIET FOR ADULT AND MATURE SKUNKS
Baked or boiled Chicken or water packed tuna fish or cooked dried beans with rice or 6 to 10 pieces of dog food per day, such as O.N.E. or Adult Formula Pro Plan.
A variety of mixed vegetables, fresh, frozen, or cooked. If canned vegetables are used, such as Veg-All, rinse with cold water to remove excess salt that is unhealthy for your skunk. Feed all they want within reason.
One slice of an apple or orange, 2 or 3 grapes or any fruit that may be in season at any time of year. If using canned fruits, rinse with cold water to remove excess sugar.
USE FRUITS IN MODERATION! TOO MUCH FRUIT CAN CAUSE MUSCLE MASS LOSS, DEHYDRATION, DIARRHEA, CONVULSIONS, AND DEATH!
Low-fat cottage cheese, 1 Tablespoon per day. Some skunks cannot digest diary products well and this could cause diarrhea. One teaspoon Of non-fat dry milk, such as Carnation, will boost calcium without diarrhea.
Approximately 1 Tablespoon per day to aid in digestion. Helps to control infections, upset tummies and diarrhea. The first time you give yogurt, give only a tiny bit and watch your baby's stool. Rarely, there is a lactose intolerant skunk!
VITAMINS & MINERALS
A Multi-vitamin / Mineral including Taurine, such as Felo-Bits for cats, Vitamins E, D-3 and Brewers Yeast and Lecithin should be included every day.
High fiber cereal, such as Shredded Wheat, Cheerios, whole grain breads, dog biscuits, unsalted plain popcorn or 1/2 teaspoon of Fiber All or Metamucil daily.
Small baked or boiled potato or 1/2 slice of whole wheat bread or pasta or rice once per day.
NEVER feed a skunk Junk Food - Skunks easily become addicted to junk food, such as Corn Chips, Potato Chips or ice cream. Use veggies, popcorn, dog biscuits or dry cereal.
One boiled egg per week has been recommended by the San Diego Zoo.
FOODS TO AVOID
Red meats (Beef) -- Pork of any kind -- Cat foods -- High protein dog food -- Moist canned dog food -- Chocolate - Fried foods -- Bee pollen -- Sunflower Seeds - Iceberg lettuce -- Dried corn or grasses. Any food containing high percentages of fats, such as any of the IAMS products. Dried fruits or foods containing Sulfur Dioxide. Chocolate, such as, M & M's, Snickers or Oreo Cookies, has caused death in several skunks. The hulls on Sunflower seeds will perforate the skunk's intestines causing death. Bee pollen is found in some vitamins and can cause an allergic reaction and death.
Learn to read labels! It could save a life!!
Experiment! Expose your skunk to a wide variety of foods-you'll both be happier for it, and the skunk will be healthier! DON'T LET THEM GET BORED! Variety is the Spice of Life!!
FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
APPLE ARTICHOKES *ASPARAGUS * AVOCADO * BANANA BEANS * BEETS * BOY CHOY * BROCCOLI BRUSSELS SPROUTS * CABBAGE * CACTUS * CANTALOUPE * CARROTS * CAULIFLOWER CELERY * CHERRIES * COCONUT * COLLARDS * CORN CUCUMBERS * DAIKON * ENDIVE * ESCAROLE * GINGER ROOT * GRAPES HONEYDEW * KIWI FRUIT * MALANGA MUSHROOMS * NECTARINE * OKRA * ORANGE * PARSLEY * PARSNIPS * PEACHES * PEAS * PEARS PEPPERS, INCLUDING HOT!! PERSIMMONS * PINEAPPLE * POTATOES * PRUNES * PRICKLY PEAR * RADISHES * RAISINS * ROMAINE * RHUBARB * RUTABAGAS * SPINACH * SPROUTS * SQUASHES * STRAWBERRIES * TANGERINES * TOMATOES * TURNIPS WATER CHESTNUTS * WATERCRESS * WATERMELON * YAMS * YUCCA ROOT * ZUCCHINI
OTHER SUGGESTED FOODS
Cereals, rice, pasta-all kinds, whole-grain bread, nuts-all kinds, eggs, cooked dried beans, cheese-all kinds. Nuts and cheeses should be given in moderation, due to the fat content.
In the beginning, watch your skunk for diarrhea after eating. If it occurs, remove the offending food from the diet.
FISH, FOWL AND MEATS
Chicken, turkey or any member of the fowl (bird) family may be given, but only if fully boiled or baked-never give raw!
Fish of any kind may be given boiled, baked or water-packed, such as canned tuna, salmon, oysters, shrimp or clams.
Deer, rabbit or any other game meats may be fed to skunks as long as it is fully cooked in some manner other than frying. NEVER ALLOW YOUR SKUNK TO EAT RAW MEATS OF ANY KIND. IT COULD BE DEADLY!!
SKUNK SIZES FROM 1 DAY TO 21 + YEARS
Every skunk is different; however, here are some AVERAGE lengths, heights and weights. You should be able to judge if your skunk is too fat or too thin.
At birth, a baby skunk is from 2 to 4 inches long and weighs between 1 and 3 ounces. The measurements given are from the tip of the nose to the base of the tail. (Tail length is not included in overall body length.) Front and rear heights are measured from the floor to the shoulder and floor to the hip when the skunk is standing. The head is measured around the ears and under the jaw.
FEMALE SKUNKS...................................MALE SKUNKS
4 weeks to 8 weeks.........................4 weeks to 8 weeks
LENGTH: 4 to 8 inches......................LENGTH: 4 to 8 inches
FRONT LEG: 3 to 4 in.......................FRONT LEG: 3 to 4 in
REAR LEG 4 to 5 in.........................REAR LEG 4 to 5 in
WEIGHT: 1/2 to 2 lbs.......................WEIGHT: 1/2 to 2 lbs
HEAD: 3 1/2 to 4 in........................HEAD: 3 1/2 to 4 in
This is the time when the boys and the girls grow about the same rate and appear to always be the same size, however, if you have a male skunk and it does not grow or stops growing, except for the legs and tail, this is called the ugly skunk stage. Their body parts and pieces just don't match. They are too long for their legs or their legs are too tall for their bodies. They WILL even out and will not always and forever be so leggy and gawky. They will turn into a beautiful animal before your very eyes!
FEMALE SKUNKS...................................MALE SKUNKS
5 months to 21+ years.......................5 months to 21+ years
LENGTH: 4 to 20 inches......................LENGTH: 5 to 24 in
FRONT LEGS 3 to 9 in........................FRONT LEGS 4 to 10
REAR LEGS 4 to 10 in........................REAR HEIGHT; 4 to 12
WEIGHT: 3 to 10 lbs.........................WEIGHT: 3 to 12 lbs
HEAD: 3 to 9 inches.........................HEAD: 4 to 11 inches
For all of you girl skunk owners, the baby has started to slow down and grow slower. For all of you boy skunk owners, well folks, one day this very large strange furry covered creature will be strolling in your house. Please, do not be alarmed, this is only your bouncing baby boy catching up with the girls.
You must remember that skunks genetic heritage differs as greatly as ours. Their parent's, grand-parent's and great grand-parent's genes have combined and recombined to give your skunk his skeletal structure.
We know of 2 male skunks, raised in the same home, both 4 years old, fed the same diet. One is 18 inches long and 11 inches tall and weighs 11 1/2 pounds. The other is 10 inches long and 6 inches tall and weighs 5 pounds. Both are perfectly healthy. If those 2 skunks weighed the same thing, one of them would be in serious trouble! A human baby at birth can weigh 6 pounds and be 19 inches long, however, as an adult it be 7 feet tall and weigh 300 pounds. Use your eyes, your hands, a scale if necessary and your common sense to determine your skunk's proper weight for its size. Do not think that you have to love your skunk to death with food or treats that are not good for them or that you are starving the poor thing to death. This will not happen if you just look at the size of a very small animal and know that it will not need as much or more food than you do to stay alive.
GENERAL SKUNK CARE INFORMATION
LIVER PROBLEM PREVENTATIVE
Terramycin Soluble Powder, purchased at a Feed and Seed Store, is used by cattle and horse people, the chicken industry and mink breeders on a regular basis. It has great benefit for our skunk's livers, which is one of their weakest organs. Our vets have approved its usage for our skunks on a 3 month on--3 month off basis. The powder is mixed in their drinking water daily, using 1/2 teaspoon per gallon of water. (That breaks down to 1/4 teaspoon to a 1/2 gallon or 1/8 teaspoon to 1 quart of water.) We have seen a tremendous decrease in liver problems since the inclusion of Terramycin. The medicated water MUST be changed every 24 hours!
Please keep in mind this is not a prescription drug, but one that can be purchased from your local feed and seed stores or pet shops. This is one of the old drugs and is seldom used in today's world of medicine. Advise your vet that you are using Terramycin if another drug is given to your skunk for any reason.
This could be an early warning sign of possible Arthritis, Degenerative Bone Disease or just a pulled muscle. Your skunk needs to be seen by a vet for x-rays as this is the only way to tell what is happening to your skunks' bones. Sorry, skunks do not have zippers to open up and take a look inside.
Until you can have x-rays taken of your skunk, give ONE HALF ONLY OF A BABY ASPIRIN ONCE A DAY. Too much aspirin can cause liver damage. DO NOT use Tylenol or any other Acetaminophen product, as it could kill your skunk. The safe way to take away pain is Jalapeno Peppers, and skunks think they are treats. This helps with the pain and swelling. Let your skunk swim in the tub with warm water just deep enough for the skunks' feet not to touch the bottom of the tub. Hydrotherapy benefits skunks, too! Raskey, my fifteen year old, hated baths until he became unable to walk. Now he beats me to the bathroom and bangs on the side of the tub with his paw for his daily swim.
Unless you know without a doubt that your skunk's limp comes from a pulled muscle while skydiving, have it x-rayed. If found early enough, most bone problems can be corrected before major problems occur.
If your skunk has bad breath, rubs its mouth on chairs, the wall or your foot, it probably has a tooth problem, either tartar on the teeth or a bad tooth. Your vet can either clean their teeth or remove the bad tooth and all is well. Non-fat dry milk used daily along with Vitamin C will help prevent tooth problems and infections.
COUGHING AND SNEEZING
By this time you think you have taken on a child rather than a skunk and what you are about to read may surprise you! Just like us, skunks have allergies and sinus problems. Has anyone ever heard a wild skunk sneeze ? Ours do!
One half teaspoon of Robitussin will help with the coughing. You also may want to worm your skunk as coughing is one of the signs of round worms. One half tablet of a 4 hour Chlor-trimeton tablet helps with the sneezing. However, this is only covering up what could really be a serious problem. Please have your skunk checked for any type of infections of the respiratory system. It is nice to know that your skunk only needs to be in a dust free area, or away from Pine or Oak Trees or inhale no more hair spray. If you really want to know which one, there are several tests that can be run on your skunk for about $1,500.00. The good news is-it does not matter which one they are allergic to, all allergies are treated the same, so save your money.
We have seen several cases of Pneumonia and Congestive Heart Failure that began with a cough. If a cough persists longer than 1 dose of medicine, take it to a vet immediately. Early treatment can avoid, correct or control many serious problems. Liquid Lasix and VasoTec or Endacard have been successful for Congestive Heart Failure, IF prescribed early and given religiously.
Use a Figure Eight cat harness if you wish to try walking your skunk. At first he will pull, tug and thrash around on it's back. Skunks are curious and will soon try to run off and see the world. Gently tug on the leash that you have chosen to use. Sometimes a trail of treats such as raisins placed in front will prompt him to go forward when asked to do so. In a while, you and your skunk can take long, enjoyable walks together if you are patient. If you do take your skunk to the outside world, which they really don't like anyway simply because it is not air conditioned or heated, and it is on the ground where it could be exposed to a rabid animal, keep in mind that at this time there is no Approved Rabies Vaccine for skunks. If a dog, cat, squirrel or cow bites your skunk, it could be infected with the Rabies Virus and this is sure death.
Skunks use their nails for digging, not clawing - they are not sharp and will not puncture skin. However, their nails will grow very long and can cause damage to your carpets, walking problems and could be pulled out of the foot if they happen to get the nail caught in something if not trimmed periodically.
Skunks are very sensitive about their feet and nails. This could cause problems if you have not played with and fondled their feet from the beginning. Trim the nail about 1/4 inch below the pink tissue in the nail. Any further up and you could have a bleeding and very mad skunk!
If your skunk is not very co-operative during nail trimming, it could take 2 people to complete this task:
1. Wrap a towel or blanket around the arm not holding the skunk (for protection), hold the skunk by the back of the neck with the other hand. Move your wrapped arm near enough for the skunk to grasp the towel with its claws. They are now available for trimming.
2. Another trick that can work is to take a piece of heavy cardboard, cut a small half-moon off the edge of one side, place the cardboard under the skunk's jaw in front of his shoulders as you hold him by the back of the neck. The nails are free to be cut and its teeth can't reach the person helping you. At this time you may hear a very vocal skunk. He does not like being held immobile!
3. Try giving a large marshmallow, caramel candy or peanut butter kiss. Most skunks will hold it in their mouth and will not let go of the candy to bite you, however, there are those skunks who can inhale sweets before you can blink your eye.
Have Quick-Stop or household flour handy to control bleeding if a nail is trimmed too close to the quick.
A skunk rarely needs a bath. If a skunk has an odor, it has a medical problem and a million baths will not solve the problem. (You may have forgotten to de-worm them this month.) If you do plan to bathe your skunk when it is an adult, especially after you remove the skunk from the fireplace, flowerpots, flour, sugar, soap powder or garbage cans, you should begin bathing it while it is a baby, but we do not recommend frequent bathing. Use a mild shampoo and hair conditioner. Nexus Hair Care Products are one of the best to use on skunks as they have all-natural ingredients. We use the same products on our skunks as we use on our hair. Do not use products for color treated hair or dandruff shampoos. If your skunk has fleas, use Scratch-X Shampoo for Fleas. Never use harsh shampoos or bleaching products. A DROP or two of Avon Skin-So-Soft in the rinse water may help to repel fleas. Bathing a skunk can be a trying experience or a fun-filled time as some skunks enjoy a dip in the old tub. Baths do not have to be traumatic to either of you. Fill the tub or sink with warm water and let the skunk play in it for a while. This enables the skunk's fur to become evenly soaked for better cleaning. Skunks can get a chill easily, so make sure you dry your skunk immediately with a towel or hair dryer set on low heat held 12 to 18 inches from the skunk's fur.
Dry shampoos do not work well on skunks. However, plain cornmeal works great! Start at the base of the tail and work the cornmeal down to the skin by brushing or rubbing forward on the skunk's hair and body, going all the way to the top of the head. The cornmeal will remove the oils and dirt in the skunk's coat, making it smell and look like a brand new skunk. This is a lot easier on you and your skunk than soap and water, but we do suggest that this be done OUTSIDE!
Use dips or sprays with the active ingredient Pyrethrins, such as Scratch-X or Sectrol by 3M. It is important to READ LABELS!!!
You can make a very effective flea treatment at home and make it very cheaply. Put 1 pint of rubbing alcohol and the rind only of 1 orange into your blender and blend it thoroughly. After the rind has been ground into extremely fine pieces, strain through a cloth and pour back into alcohol bottle. Use a piece of cotton or cloth to apply this mixture to your skunk's skin and fur. You could also put the mixture into a spray bottle and spray your skunk. They will smell delicious! The alcohol kills the fleas and the orange rind repels any new fleas. Orange rinds placed under your furniture or where your skunk sleeps helps not only to control fleas but it makes your house smell delightful. Caffeine sprays for flea control are now coming on the market and are safe for skunks.
Skunks are very sensitive to all forms of pesticides, including those recommended for use on dogs. If you use a pest control company, advise the company to use caution in spraying, as poisoning can occur from a simple maintenance practice in your home. Combat Disks are safe and they work very well. Skunks with pesticide poisoning very rarely survive. If you suspect your skunk has a pesticide reaction, take it to the vet immediately.
HOUSEHOLD CLEANING PRODUCTS
Some common household products are dangerous to skunks. Some have caused death. Use a solution of 1/4 cup 5% chlorine bleach to 1 gallon of water (a solution any stronger can cause damage to the eyes or lungs of your skunk), or Spic and Span for cleaning purposes. Earth Rite products are all-natural, environmentally safe and safe for animals. Some carpet fresheners and cleaners such as Glade Potpourri and Lysol products have killed dogs, cats and skunks, so be very careful with any cleaning products you use around your skunk.
This surgery removes the entire joint of the toe. Skunks' claws are not like cat claws, but like our fingers and toes. Think about having your toes removed and you'll have a better understanding of what a skunk will have to endure if this INHUMANE surgery is performed on them. Their balance is affected, they can no longer hold their food and, in some way that we do not yet understand, it causes the liver to fail, leading to an early death. It is our feeling that if you cannot live with occasional digging in your carpets, which can be controlled--DO NOT GET A SKUNK! If you don't like to change diapers or get up a 4 in the morning, do not get a baby. Declawed skunks are pitiful sights to behold hobbling along as if they were in pain, which they may be!
FANG FILING OR REMOVAL
This procedure prevents the skunk from eating properly and causes the rest of the teeth to become misaligned and could cause dental problems later. Here again is one more reason why some people should not even try to live with a skunk. In our society, we change and make over our own bodies, so some people feel that if your skunk has something that you consider bad news, simply have it removed, no matter what problems or cruelty we impose on the skunk. WRONG!! Declawing and fang filing or removal is OUTRIGHT ABUSE!!!
Pen raised, domestic skunks have been erroneously labeled as Rabies carriers. As long as your skunk comes from a reputable breeder, such as Ruby Fur Farms in New Sharon, Iowa, where no Rabies has been found since 1932, or your skunk has not been exposed to a rabid animal or the carcass of a rabid animal, Rabies should not be a problem. We have heard such stories as: "All skunks are born with Rabies", "Skunks are latent carriers of Rabies and could be years old before you know if they have Rabies", "There is no known Rabies virus incubation period for skunks." The only conclusion one could come to on this subject is that all of the skunks born in 1932 on Mr. Ruby's Farm (there have been no case of Rabies since 1932 on this fur farm) must be alive and well and waiting to die with Rabies. I THINK NOT!!
There is no known incubation for skunks"?? Strange thing...we have found a national publication on the incubation period of the Rabies virus in several animals including man. "A carrier state (the ability of infected animals to transmit Rabies virus while incubating the disease) is known for some species. Cats, dogs, foxes and skunks (Mephitis Mephitis) can expose susceptible hosts in the United States to Rabies one, three and eight days, respectively, before onset of clinical illness." This is found in Rabies In Florida, by Burridge MJ, Sawyer LA and Bigler WJ, Table 2.1, which summarizes the incubation and morbidity periods for Rabies in animals and man. The quote was taken from a letter dated January 28, 1986, from Dr. Leigh Ann Sawyer, DVM, MPH, Veterinary Epidemiologist, Viral and Rickettsial Zoonoses Branch, Division of Viral Diseases, Center for Infectious Diseases, Center for Disease Control, Department of Health & Human Services, Atlanta, Ga. We do not know why this information is being kept from skunk owners, but this seems to be another approach by the "powers that be" to controlling our lives.
At this time, there is no approved Rabies vaccine for skunks. You can use a KILLED FELINE VACCINE that is used for ferrets.
A SKUNK MUST NEVER BE GIVEN LIVE OR MODIFIED LIVE RABIES VACCINATIONS--THEY HAVE DEVELOPED RABIES FROM THESE VACCINES!!
Be very careful with your skunk! If it bites someone and they report it to the health authorities, you must surrender your skunk to be murdered and the brain cells tested for Rabies. Many people have tragically lost their cherished pet because it bit someone. Skunk owners are punished for not having "suitable companion animals" for pets, such as dogs or cats. Three years ago, there was a case in Georgia where an irresponsible skunk owner allowed his baby skunk to roam free in a fenced backyard. It was bitten by a rabid raccoon and soon became rabid. Upon Rabies confirmation, the State of Georgia hunted down all the baby skunks sold from the same store, terrorized 12 skunk owners with RABIES SCARE TACTICS into having their baby skunks murdered, mangled and serving the heads of the 12 baby skunks on a silver platter for Rabies testing. No one bothered to say "I'm sorry or forgive me, I was wrong" when ALL 12 Rabies tests came back NEGATIVE!! Welcome to the Wonderful World of Compassion and Understanding! No amount of words will stop the fear and terror the word RABIES brings to our hearts and minds, but just take a minute to think.. when someone says "3 million skunks were found to have Rabies," ask how many domestic/pen raised skunks were in the 3 million rabid skunks. The answer will be, "None, but..."
Yes, your skunk will get Rabies if it is bitten by, or eats the carcass of a rabid animal; but then, --- so could you!!!
PREVIOUSLY OWNED SKUNKS
Some skunks don't change owners as easily as dogs or cats, but the change can be done with a reasonable amount of success. The age of the skunk is not a major factor in changing homes, but even the smallest babies have problems adjusting to new homes at first. Try to bring something that the skunk is used to, such as a blanket or favorite toy, to help reduce stress of "newness." The skunk may choose to hide under a piece of furniture for several days. If this occurs, do not leave food out for the skunk while you are away, but rather, feed it while you are there so it can become used to you. Make sure it has fresh water at all times. New worlds need to be explored, so do not be alarmed if its nose goes into high gear and it checks out every inch of its new home.
Offer the new skunk lots of healthy treats and good conversation. This allows your smell and voice to become familiar to the skunk and will build trust between the two of you. Any type of forced attention can lead to serious biting and distrust that may never be overcome. DO NOT FORCE A SKUNK TO COME TO YOU -- LET IT COME ON ITS OWN. Pet the skunk as it will willing accept and you will be friends for life.
Bad biters can be retrained with the use of simple tools--LOVE, gloves, boots and the trusty water bottle. The gloves and boots protect your body, the water bottle helps teach that biting is not nice and the LOVE makes it all work a lot faster. A lot of skunk owners have given up their animals because they bite, and if the animal has not been spayed or neutered, the biting will continue until it has been fixed. With LOVE AND PATIENCE, even "Tasmanian Devils" have been turned into lap babies.
JUST REMEMBER--A skunk in a new location is scared and unsure, just as you are in new places, around new people. You may even have to potty train all over again, so be prepared. PATIENCE AND LOVE will create a very loving animal. If you have any questions, just call or write us and we will be very glad to help in any way possible.
Please understand that we are not vets! Many skunk owners have learned many valuable lessons on how to deal with emergencies and everyday crises by using trial and error. Skunks died because vets were unreachable, but this happens less and less as we get more and more help and suggestions from skunk owners across the country. If you make a miraculous discovery that fixes a problem that your skunk develops, call one of us. Many skunks could profit by your discovery. PASS IT ON!!
FIRST AID UNTIL YOU CAN SEE THE VET
Skunks may develop problems at home when the vet is closed, but most of these problems can be handled by you. Some emergency vet services usually will not work with skunks, so contact the emergency service before leaving home, to determine their policy on domestic skunks.
Pepto-Bismol aids this problem. Plan on wearing some of it. They don't like it! Feed well-cooked rice, baked or boiled potatoes, unset Jello, plain yogurt or Bene-Bac and give Gatorade or Pedialyte to help with fluid loss. Diarrhea is frequently caused by roundworms or bad diet. Have your skunk checked by the vet as soon as possible.
When this occurs, a portion of the intestine from 1/4 to 2 inches long protrudes from the rectum. A prolapse is not as bad as it looks. The first one I ever saw caused me to replace my front door after I came back from the vet's office as I did not bother to open the door before going through it. The prolapse may be red or swollen and may not return immediately. Rinse with warm water, gently rub with Vaseline, Preparation H or Panalog (obtained from your vet) on the intestine while you slowly push small amounts of the intestine back into the rectum. It may take a while for the intestine to return to its normal place, but don't be alarmed if it seems to last forever. IT WILL EVENTUALLY GO BACK IN!! Unless your skunk is chewing at the tissue, it is not necessary to see a vet; however, if he is chewing at it, a vet must replace the intestine and possibly (we hope not, BECAUSE EVEN ONE TINY STITCH CAN DO NERVE DAMAGE IN THESE DELICATE TISSUES!) place a purse string stitch to hold it in place. Until the prolapse is completely gone, replace kitty litter with newspaper and keep the prolapse greased.
Rectal prolapse is caused by diarrhea, (one of the signs of round worms) and bad diet. Due to fluid loss, the intestine shrinks and the body can no longer hold the intestine in place. The intestine must be stretched back to full size to stay where it belongs. High fiber foods plus Fiber All or Metamucil added to the food will help the prolapse to go back inside and minimize intestinal irritation. It is not unusual for baby skunks to have a prolapse, they don't seem to know that it is abnormal and therefore don't bother it. Normally you will be able to push the intestine back into the body. In the rare case that improper descenting is the cause, Panalog Ointment should be used until healing takes place.
Unless your skunk is in heat, this may indicate kidney or bladder problems or Diabetes. Try giving as much cranberry, orange or tomato juices as it will drink or you can mix 1 teaspoon of white vinegar with 1 quart of water and place it in the water bowl. If the problem persists, take the skunk to the vet.
Clean site with mild soap and water. Use Quick Stop (from pet stores or your vet) or plain flour sprinkled over the bleeding area to control and stop bleeding. If your skunk has pulled a toe nail out, with lots of bleeding, you can place the foot in a cup, glass or small bowl of flour until bleeding stops.
Ground ginger sprinkled over food, Pepto-Bismol, Coke, ginger ale or any product for children will help here. Plain yogurt will aid in digestion and should solve a lot of future problems if fed to your skunk daily.
We have had numerous reports of skunks having seizures--convulsions, drooling, rapid breathing, totally stiff body, wide open glazed eyes, and no response to stimuli. If your skunk experiences any of these symptoms, wrap it in something to keep it warm and from going into shock or harming itself or you. Sugar of some form must be fed to prevent severe hypoglycemia.
Dip a Q-Tip, pen, pencil, an infant ear syringe--anything but your fingers-into Karo syrup, pancake syrup, honey or sugar water and apply to the gums or tongue. DO NOT USE YOUR FINGERS as a convulsing animal may severely bite. When it appears to be coming out of the seizure, feed as much of the sweet as it will take. Gatorade after a seizure can save your skunks' life!
A seizure may be caused by an allergic reaction, heat stress, round worms, epilepsy, diabetes, distemper, poisoning, liver problems or various other health problems. Seizures are a serious health situation and it must be diagnosed and treated IMMEDIATELY! Take your skunk to the vet as soon as possible!!
HOW TO TELL IF YOUR SKUNK IS HEALTHY
Here are a few guidelines by which to judge your skunk's overall health:
Glossy, thick coat
Eyes bright and clear
No yellowing of the white fur
Solid, formed stools
Active and happy
Drastic change in bathroom habits (middle of floor, frequent urination, many locations)
Frequent thirst or increase in the amount of water consumed
Dry, brittle, dull or thin coat
Coat loses its color-becomes dull
Yellowing or loss of hair
Obesity (fat skunk)
Dry, cracked feet
Aggressive behavior and biting
Loss of appetite
Makes constant unusual noises
Runny nose and eyes
Body odors-Altered skunks should have no body odor
Coughing and sneezing
Rubs sides of face or head
WARNINGS FOR AND ABOUT SKUNKS
Recliners have taken the lives of several skunks. Be very careful when using a recliner!! Your skunk could be under it without your knowing it! Be careful of heavy objects that could fall on your skunk, such as an iron from off an ironing board. Some skunks like to sleep in drawers. If a drawer seems stuck, be slow and careful about unjamming it. A baby skunk died of a broken neck just this way in 1993.
Skunks have been known to eat kittens, birds and other small animals, so please keep your other tiny pets out of "Harms (SKUNKS) Way."
Some skunks have eaten Boas, Pythons and have come down with Salmonella. It took a very long time to treat and could have ended with a dead skunk.
SKUNK TRAVEL TIPS
Traveling with your skunk does not have to be a major problem. Taking their own carrier, familiar snugglies and a few favorite toys will make them more comfortable.
Chemical ice blocks that are used for coolers, wrapped in a towel and placed in the carrier will help them keep cool, as will a few frozen grapes now and then. Raisins soaked in Gatorade for 2 days before the trip may come in handy in a stress situation.
Cracker Jacks may also be given to ward off stress problems for your skunk. A RARE salty treat will stimulate your skunk to drink properly.
Take a cardboard box and fill it with newspaper for a portable bathroom for your skunk or you can place a plastic bag with newspaper covering it on the floor board held in place with masking tape.
Have cut up veggies with you for treats.
LET'S MAKE LIFE VERY SIMPLE
I still see pictures in my mind of the bushels of, boxes of, bag's of, bottles of skunk stuff that I would have to deal with daily, however, after a short while you begin to see that if you know what you are dealing with it is not so bad. Since the heavens opened up and Zip Lock Bags fell to earth, our lives are much simpler now!
I just take 5 or 6 bags, throw in all the vitamins, dog food and anything else I can think of into each bag. On the day of or the night before little one's meal time I cut all the stuff they need, throw it in the bags along with the yogurt and cottage cheese. Now I am ready to instantly feed or snack for five or six days.
Dog food can be placed in the freezer and you can take out a weeks worth at a time, keeping the dog food from getting old.
Use the cut off parts of the veggies you cook for yourself, for your skunk's dinner and they will love it. It is good for your pocketbook, too!
Shakers like salt or cheese shakers can be used for instant milk, powdered brewers yeast or baking soda.
Pills and skunks can be tricky. I crush the pill up, place it some cooking oil, peanut butter, mayonnaise, jelly or salad dressing. In other words, whatever your skunk likes, you can hide the crushed pill in.
For emergencies Karo Syrup or Pancake Syrup and Gatorade can be placed in a syringe or a small plastic squirt bottle. It is easier to handle in traveling, to store in the refrigerator and to use with your skunk.
Clear Contact Paper placed on the wall behind your skunks litter box will make clean up a lot easier.