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post #1 of 2 (permalink) Old 01-25-2002, 09:06 PM
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Raising a Pet Skunk

Just a little bit of info, for those interested!



Copyright 1999 by Mary Kaye Ashley, American
Domestic Skunk Assoc. Inc.

Skunks are wonderful pets when provided with a good home environment and proper care. They cuddle on the sofa with you, snuggle under the blankets in your bed, and greet you at the door when you come home from work. They are very
animated at play and invite you to get down on the floor and join in their antics. They can be leash trained and accompany you on trips outside the home. They adapt well to the domestic
routines of your household and become vibrant members of your family. You can achieve a level of bonding with them similar to that of a dog or cat, but they require a different level of care
and understanding. Skunks do best in calm households. They can do well with children who are relatively calm provided that the parent supervises and teaches them proper interaction
with the skunk with no poking, pulling, teasing, harassing, tight squeezing, and rough play. They bond with the other pets in your home, but you must be careful not to set up a food chain with
those species that are part of a skunk's natural food chain in the wild, such as small exotics or rodents pets, small birds walking on the floor, reptile pets, and tiny infant animals of any species. Every skunk has his own distinctive personality, so temperament and behaviorisms will vary from one skunk to the next. There is no
major difference in temperament based upon sex of the animal. The optimal age to obtain one is a baby 5-8 weeks old. Skunks will only make as good a pet as the amount of time you invest in them as babies, and it is critical that you devote
extensive time to fondling and training as soon as the infant arrives in your home. They are quick to become one-family pets unless you expose them to people and places outside the home to dispel their fear. Discipline methods include
tone of voice, time outs, a gentle tap with your finger on their nose or bottom, a spray of water from a bottle, or noise from a hand vacuum. Never hit or shake because corporal punishment will cause a skunk to bite. Pet skunks require run of
the house once they are old enough (4-6 mo.) and tend to become aggressive when excessively caged. For safety purposes you can, however, confine them to a small room while you are away from home. They are best maintained as indoor pets
with the exception of a bit of fresh air and sunshine outdoors each day while supervised. Outdoor housing is seldom adequate nor escape proof, and skunks who are caged outdoors
typically become fearful of humans because they lack the daily interaction with your family necessary to maintain them as good pets. Skunks are curious creatures so it is necessary to
thoroughly safety proof your house similar to the measures you take for a toddler. Objects on the floor and one level above (sofa height) are fair game and must be placed out of reach. Childproof
latches on kitchen and bathroom cabinets are an absolute necessity. Skunks are generally not destructive once you understand their behaviorisms and make the necessary
accommodations within your home. They are master escape artists, so doors must be securely latched and all openings to the outdoors blocked. They must never be left outside unattended. They have no homing instinct, are nearly impossible to find
once they escape, and cannot survive on their own. Skunks litter train similar to a ferret in that they pick a corner and back up into it to do their business. They need a litter box nearby
their beds and additional boxes in the rooms where they spend a good deal of time with you. Many skunks are religious about using their litter boxes while others have occasional
accidents or develop quirks in their litter habits which we can help you troubleshoot. They do not litter train like a cat who will return to ne box placed in the location of your choosing somewhere in the house. In selecting a brand of litter, stay away from clumping litter because of ill effects to their health. Natural litters such
as unscented clay, recycled paper, and Nature's Way Feline Pine are the best. Skunks do not require extensive bathing and grooming. Nails should be trimmed using human nail clippers about once every 3 weeks. Bathing should be infrequent
(once every 3-6 months) so as not to destroy the natural oils in their fur. The best shampoo to use is an all-natural product from a health food store because the chemicals in many of the dog
and cat shampoos are far too harsh for a skunk. Healthy skunks do not have any body odor. Continuous bathing will not rid them of body odor because it is generally linked to an underlying
medical problem. The average life span of a pet skunk is 8-10 years. Some have lived as long as 20 years and others don't survive to their first birthday. The number of years your skunk will
live depends upon the optimal care you provide by feeding him properly, avoiding obesity, keeping him away from chemicals in the home, food and water, as well as maintaining his health needs. Skunks can quickly deteriorate when they become
ill, so prompt medical attention is essential. Purchase a book about raising pet skunks so you fully understand proper care, and contact our organization if you need help. Spaying and
neutering are mandatory for pet skunks. Females are prone to severe health problems (often kidney related) due to heat stress after their first couple heat cycles. Additionally, skunks undergo
dramatic personality changes when their hormones fluctuate and rage. The end result is biting and undesirable behaviorisms in about 95% of male skunks and 75% of female skunks. Males should be neutered about 3-3½ months of age or as soon as
the testicles become palpable and females spayed between 4-6 months of age. The anesthesia of choice, and the standard for exotic pets today, is called isoflourine. Layers of internal sutures
plus surgical glue on the exterior tissue work best because many skunks chew their stitches. It takes 3-6 weeks after the surgery for the hormones to stabilize. Be aware that baby skunks
do not arrive already spayed or neutered. When your pet retailer tells you that they have been fixed, it means only that their scent glands have been removed. Also be aware that skunks are
fiercely temperamental and difficult animals to breed. It is nothing like having a litter of puppies or kittens. Mortality rates as a result
of inexperienced, in-home breeding are staggeringly high-93% of the babies and 50% of the mothers do not survive. Breeding should be attempted only by professional breeders with specialized facilities.
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post #2 of 2 (permalink) Old 01-25-2002, 09:10 PM
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Diet and proper nutrition is the most critical factor in keeping your pet skunk healthy. Skunks do not do well long term on
commercial pet foods of any kind. In other words, you should prepare special meals that provide human-grade nutrition. Their daily food intake should consist of 40% meat and grain recipe; 50% fresh or frozen vegetables; 10% other whole foods
(recipe & complete diet plan provided for free upon request). Avoid giving junk food, fast foods, foods containing chemical preservatives and additives, and all refined sugar products. Bottled or filtered water is highly recommended. Keep your other pets' food bowls completely out of reach. Skunks are fierce beggars and will eat 24 hours a day if you are foolish enough to keep feeding them. A medium-boned adult skunk should
only weigh 7-10 pounds. Sadly, many of them grow to be 15-30 pounds due to overfeeding or giving the wrong kinds of foods. Overweight skunks are prematurely dead skunks. Skunks are extremely sensitive to chemicals of all kinds. It is
critical that you restrict your use of chemical cleaning products, odor removers, and pesticides on areas in which your skunk will come in contact. Clean bare floors with vinegar and
water, an organic cleaning product, or a very diluted bleach and water solution. Do not spray your carpet with harsh pesticides; rather, use natural pyrethrins or the boric acid derivative
powders. Flea infestation can lead to serious health problems, and we can teach you how to break the flea cycle in your home without using harsh chemicals and flea shampoos. We do not
recommend treating the skunk topically with products like Advantage. Be extremely cautious when letting other people handle your skunk. State law requires that if a skunk bite is
reported, the skunk will likely be seized and euthanized to enable rabies testing. The rules of quarantine (common with dog bites) do not apply to skunks. At present there is no rabies vaccine
officially approved for skunks. The risk of rabies in captive-bred skunks from a reputable breeder is non-existent, and the only way your skunk can contract rabies is if he is bitten by a
rabid animal. Be equally careful when searching for a qualified vet to treat your skunk and be sure to ask the critical question, "What will you do if my skunk bites you or a member of your staff?" Not all vets treat skunks and in many
cases we can provide veterinary referrals. With regard to vaccines, the virus that skunks are most susceptible to is canine distemper. While many holistic veterinarians do not recommend
vaccinating, individuals using conventional veterinarians should vaccinate for canine distemper only using a brand such as Galaxy. We do not recommend the use of the ferret distemper
vaccine called FerVac because of the potential onset of seizures within 3-5 days following vaccination. We also recommend that you do not over-vaccinate your skunk with both canine and
feline combo vaccines. A skunk's system is very sensitive and can fall prey to auto-immune disease and a host of other health problems nduced by vaccine overload as the immune system
is stressed and weakened trying to produce the antibodies which the vaccines intend. Roundworm is common in skunks even though a fecal test yields negative results. Skunks can die from
roundworm. It is critical that you deworm your skunk using a wormer whose active ingredient is Pyrantel Pamoate (Strongid-T, Evict, Nemex-2). Give the skunk the recommended dose and repeat the treatment 2-3 weeks later to break the egg
cycle. Do follow-up deworming treatments every 6-8 months or sooner if your skunk exhibits symptoms of roundworm or if another pet in your home is diagnosed with roundworm. Other health problems seen in skunks include liver, kidney and
heart disease, seizures, rectal prolapse, fur loss, arthritis, diabetes/hypoglycemia, and cancer. Many of them can be helped or prevented with optimal nutrition and proper care. Please
contact us for advice in dealing with any medical condition.

Copyright 1999 by Mary Kaye Ashley, American
Domestic Skunk Assoc. Inc.

[email protected]

exotic pets, feline pine, food bowl, food bowls, health food store, heat cycle, litter box, litter boxes, litter train, pet food, pet foods, reputable breeder, wonderful pets

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