Description and History
The domestic skunk has a triangular body, usually 14 to 18 inches long, excluding the tail. Skunks stand around 5 to 7 inches tall, and weigh 5 to 10 pounds. Males tend to be slightly larger. Color variations available today include: chocolate chip, milk chocolate and white, white on white, pure albino, cinnamon swirl, confetti, apricot, lavender, gun-metal gray, and several variations of the black and white. Life span is up to 14 years with good veterinary care and a carefully controlled diet. Skunks are native to the United States, and traceable back to historical accounts of Christopher Columbus. Today, they are exported to zoos in many European countries and are available to the public as pets through zoo breeding programs. Their history as domestic pets is not known exactly, but it's thought that they have been kept as pets as early as 75 to 100 years ago.
What kind of pet do Skunks make?
Skunks are very curious and need to investigate every inch of their home, usually daily. They are classed as "wild animal pets" by all government agencies and truly they are. They need daily, quality, hands-on time with their caregiver in order to overcome their natural fear. They bond quite easily and do enjoy curling up in your lap for a nap.
What do I look for in choosing a good pet- quality Skunk?
The breeder is, of course, as with all animals, the key to obtaining the best pet. Breeders that mass-produce do not have the time or manpower to handle and hand-tame thousands of babies. If possible try to obtain your pet skunk from a small breeder. It's also advisable to check with the Fish and Game Department and the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture in your state to learn if complaints have been registered against any particular breeder.
Skunks can have free range of your home, just as the family dog or cat would. When you're not at home, it is recommended that the skunk be placed in the bathroom or another room safe for your pet's unsupervised exploration.
A skunk's diet should include organic grains, chicken, turkey and vegetables. They cannot be fed foods containing chemicals or preservatives. These compounds can be deadly for them.
Are they clean animals?
Skunks can be litterbox or paper trained. Some are extremely easy to train, while others can be hardheaded. Skunks keep their coats immaculate; they will groom themselves like a cat. A bath perhaps twice a year is all that is needed.
Do they need a companion?
Two of a kind is great but not entirely necessary. Two females make the best combinations. Two males are not recommended as they tend to spat.
Scent glands have been surgically removed by the time they are four to sixes old. Skunks require canine distemper shots as a puppy would, with a yearly booster. Spaying and neutering is critical. If not done, the stress of a "heat cycle" can impair the health of females, and unneutered males can become aggressive. A regular worming program is essential.
Are they prone to any health problems?
At least 90% of health problems in domestic skunks are diet related and include liver, kidney and heart problems. Obesity is a common problem that can lead to arthritis and crippling and even paralysis. This is good reason to offer your pet a highly researched and proven diet.
How will they get along with other animals?
If introduced slowly and under supervision, most other domestic animals will accept a skunk in their lives. Please oversee any rough play, accidents can and do happen.
Who should own a skunk?
A skunk is not for everyone: owners must be willing to devote maximum time to their pet. Skunks need to be taught manners, they need to have quality time daily with their owners. You must be willing to make adjustments in your home such as putting childproof locks on cabinets, putting potted plants up on tables, as well as patiently working through litterbox training, providing the necessary vet care and overseeing you pet's restricted diet. If you are not able or willing to work within these guidelines, you may not find a pet skunk a good match. Children can inadvertently be rough when handling is perceived as an act of aggression by the skunk, and skunks can get along with children if the child's parents are willing to teach the child the rules of interacting with a pet skunk.
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