The Reality of Skunk Ownership

Creatd by Sue Creedy - 22nd March 2015

Introduction

Members of our facebook page were asked to post about their experiences of their first months with their new skunk. Their comments are shown here with the aim of providing a reality check for those people thinking of getting their first skunk. Skunks are not like other pets. They are:

Cuddlystressy destructive challenging affectionate aggressive cute funny motivated adventurous escapist stomping spraying biting hiding scared blood-letting bottom-winking carpet-wrecking bed-wetting pee-trailing poo-hiding food-stealing skitty territorial indifferent growling amazing beautiful toe-biting snatching attacking brilliant friendly playful antisocial cat-biting shy climbing nervous bonded ingenious frustrating heart-rending rioting rehoming not-coping tile-ripping hilarious plaster-chewing hands-off bum-swinging tail-fluffing bag-shredding pot-plant-trashing thieving comical entitled crazy terrifying sweet wonderful destructive overwhelming greedy fluffy loving sulking fridge-raiding sofa-killing car-stinking eye-watering dog-biting


From Skunk Owners, in their words:

I bought a cuddly tame skunk but when I took him home he stressed. Wasn't cuddly at all and became destructive and stressed with my toddler. Before, he was a cuddly house skunk in end he had to go be an outdoor skunk as he was too stressed.

I have no shame in admitting it's been more challenging than I ever expected it to be.

One of our skunks is rising 3 and we need gauntlets to clip his nails or lift him. He comes for petting on his terms only, we have had him since he was a kit...Our other 2 skunks are so affectionate...All fed, treated and loved the same.

It is a huge upheaval for kits when they are taken from their mum, litter mates and familiar surroundings to go to a new home. Some skunks do not settle until their second year and many never want to be cuddled at all. New owners should be prepared to provide a large outdoor enclosure (at least 6 by 8 feet) if necessary.

Skunks can and will climb if they are motivated to do so (I don't have the de-motivational button). It has taken us a childproof fireguard, 2 breeze blocks, several hooks and a worktop to stop our skunk climbing up our fireplace and chimney. Never under estimate a skunk’s ability to escape and destroy. They can easily climb up between furniture and walls and scale 8 foot wire fences with ease.

Our skunk has ripped the wallpaper off (still does luckily behind sofa) ripped some beading up from the skirting, scratched the door to pieces. Bitten my nose, feet (a lot).

Our first skunk came to me at 5 months. I used a courier and he came stomping out the carrier and has never stopped. 3 years on. I bought him blind which in hindsight was a really bad idea. We were advised he had been handled so assumed that he would fit straight into our lives. He was placed in the kitchen to settle. He chomped through my husband’s knuckle and dropped 3 inch worms all over my house. It was all a bit of a shock. It soon became clear that he actually didn't want anything to do with us. Months we tried to interact with him, sat on the floor, chatting quietly, meal worms over the lap and around me. He shunned the food. After 9 months of living under a sofa and hearing the patter of skunky feet out and about as soon as we left the room, we decided he needed his own space so he was moved outside. We noticed a huge difference in him and although still to this day he stomps and bottom winks at me, he will take food from my hands and I can easily pick him up to worm and do his claws and I sneak the odd but very much unwanted cuddle. The skunks I had met up until that point had all been cuddly monsters so at the time I was disappointed to learn that they are not all like that.

I thought I had bought a skunk who was cuddly tame house pet. But when I got him home he was far from it. He hid all the time and only came out early hours. He was very destructive and after a couple of months of trying we had to rehome him to an outdoor home where he would be happier.

When our skunk was first bought home she was skitty but after a month settled well and bonded with me. She would come for stroking and play would sleep on my bed, but was territorial of me and would bite my partner hard.

We were owner #3 for our skunk. At first he was indifferent to us (first few weeks), then he turned aggressive. The only person that could deal with him day in, day out, was our daughter, now 9. He would go through stages of being ok with myself, but then out of the blue was turn on me. I have the scars on my hand to prove it! If he got a hold of me, he would lock on and stay there for at least 5 mins, growling and shaking me. I learned how to cope with these attacks but I wouldn't wish that on anyone. My daughter's experience was entirely different, they had an amazing bond.

After a huge amount of research...We were lucky enough to add two beautiful skunks from different litters to our family home in the summer of 2014...they are two totally different skunks! Our first is brilliant! She is extremely friendly and cuddly although does love to scratch a bit of stairs carpet. She is perfect at toilet training, playful and fantastic with the kids. Then we got our boy! He was not social at all and toilet training was hard at first but we are getting there. He was extremely shy and always wanted to hide away, but after lots of work and bugs he is getting there and turning into a cuddly boy and will even come to the sofa for cuddles now. We did not take into account just how different they could be but they are both a large part of our family; they free roam the house and always make us laugh and we could never be without our skunkie babies.

I had our two brother skunks when they were kits. The first year was tough as while one was quite difficult and nippy, the other has always been outgoing and laid back. They are like guided missiles for food and their star achievement was getting under the ferret cage and battering their heads against the bottom tray until it fell out and they could eat all the ferret food! Thankfully a few cable ties sorted that one... But skunks are very ingenious and you never know what they will get up to next!

I had my first skunk from a baby. I had been to see some pet skunks before getting my own and done months of research so I thought I knew what to expect. When we got home with him he didn't want to know anyone or anything and just stamped around a lot. It took ages before I could touch him even now he will only climb up for a cuddle when he wants to. He's bitten me, my husband and my son, scratched up every corner of my carpet in every room, he's ripped two cupboards off the wall, ripped tiles up from the bathroom, peeled wallpaper off the wall and burrowed into the sofa! He’s never really litter trained fully sometimes he will use his tray other times he goes where he wants. I love him to bits!

As a breeder, I have seen that each kit is different as kits that we all reared together and treated the same all have different personalities; some good, some bad, so to a certain point it seems to be luck of the draw to how a kit can turn out no matter how you treat them when you get them home.

We got our skunk at 6 months old, he bonded straight away with my partner. Even though I fed him and spent all day at home with him he would bite me as soon as I sat down or came down the stairs. He even bit me on the eye when I was trying to sleep. He could have me in tears because I was being threatened in my own home, refused to use the litter tray ruining my floor. After he was castrated it's like we have a whole new skunk. He’s much more laid back, will cuddle with me all day, only nibbles now when he plays games. He’ll give you kisses on the lips and dig into your chest to find a comfy spot. Poor boy must have been so frustrated for so long.

Remembering back to when I first got them and tried to have them in my bedroom and realising that they poo and wee a lot and they enjoy trashing everything because it's fun! Finding out they can fit through the gaps in a crate, learning the skunky stomp and how to pick them up without scaring them, it's all a big learning ordeal, I never found any of it with any of my skunks a problem because I got them all from fab people who spent a lot of time with them as babies. One of mine although from a great breeder who spent time with them was always awful (sprayed me in the eyes loads, still can't pick her up or touch her as she will spray, she's scared of everything), so don't always expect them to turn out as cuddly pets, sometimes you have to be prepared to keep them outside in the quiet; this one could never be a house pet as it would stress her and us too much! I always tell people that it's good to have somewhere safe outside that they can trash as they love digging and will dig your carpets and at your doors! You can't really close them in on an area as they make more mess trying to get out.

My first skunk was a nightmare - he peed & pooped everywhere (including on our bed), bit constantly, occasionally attacked, and never stopped running around. After about 7 months he started to calm down but still ran riot. He's now very calm and cuddly but this has only happened over the last couple of months as we moved house and he back stepped a bit. There were times, early on, I thought about rehoming him in desperation, but now I wouldn't dream of it. I love him loads. His sister, on the other hand, has been an angel from the word go. They do tend to be gender specific though. My boy is bonded with me, his sister with my partner.

Besides her not using a litter tray 80% of the time all our skunk has really done is scratch up a small area of carpet. She has the odd nibble on us while playing, not hard, but she is generally really good.

We got our skunk at 3 months old. He had been kept indoors and well handled. However, when we first got him home it was a nightmare; he would tremble and shake uncontrollably at the mere sight of us and hide behind the sofa all the time. At night, when we wanted to go to bed, he would have his own party and wreck the whole room and make so much noise, we barely slept at all for the first couple of weeks. When I tried to keep him active in a daytime, so he sleeps through the night, he bit me pretty hard (I once needed a week long course of antibiotics). Basically, we now have to put him in a cage when we sleep, as he is still very much a nocturnal baby and it’s impossible for us to sleep through it in our flat. Our carpets are wrecked already in every corner and he’s now started on lino in the kitchen. He is pretty settled now and no longer shakes, but I can’t pick him up unless he is asleep in his bed and I get him with his bed or he comes up on the sofa and I grab him for a cuddle. He slept on me only a handful of times, so he’s not the cuddliest skunk, but we are not giving up hope and maybe one day he will be a lap cuddle bug skunk. We love him dearly.

When we were at the pet shop she was ok to be cuddled so I thought we had an easy one. Got her home and she just hid for weeks under the dining room table. We threw her food nearer and nearer until I put it in my lap to catch her. Got bitten once accidentally but she was very nervous. It took patience but eventually she would let us pick her up and give her small cuddles. We didn't know it but she was pregnant - we arrived home one day in the September to one dead kit. That's the only time she ever talked, and I still have that on my phone. That was a turning point as she kept coming to me and going to the kit for me to 'fix' it. Then when I'd let her say her goodbyes, she decided we were her babies. It was beautiful from then on - she would nibble our ears, lick our faces, snuggle. Yes we had to screw the kitchen cupboard plinths on and hide all the plastic bags she would shred daily, move all the plant pots. But in reality she was easier than I'd expected and bonded with all 4 of us though her favourites were clearly my son and me.

I've found our skunk to be a breeze. He uses his litter tray perfectly (unless he wants to turn it over and use it as a step to reach something exciting). He's only sprayed a tiny bit on one occasion, which was a car backfiring outside when we were out. He's stolen a LOT of stuff and taken in to his den under the sofa, including very important letters. He's bitten on 3 occasions, all of which were small nips and caused by us trying to pick him up while he was on a skunky mission. He's bonded with me loads and seeks me out to sleep on when he gets tired, but if my partner walks over to us he comically kicks off and threatens to spray. Every night he pulls everything off every shelf in the room that he can reach, opens cupboards and we often find him asleep in the wardrobe. He also worked out how to open the carrier while inside the other day and ended up on the dog’s back in the car. BUT I think he's hilarious, even if he is an entitled little git.

We got our skunk as a baby and the first year was crazy, rewarding, stressful and brilliant LOL. When we first brought him home he was terrified and skittish. He hid from us all 24/7 and we only saw him when he wanted food. He made himself little dens behind furniture in the living room and under the kids’ beds upstairs, but it wasn't long before the smell of mealworms would have him running for our laps. For months the only time we could even get close enough for a stroke was if he was eating. I admit I was a little upset that he didn't ever want to come to me for a proper cuddle. Then he had a growth spurt and seemed to hit puberty and he became something of a handful. This is when the biting started. He would suddenly charge my feet and dig his teeth in. By now he wasn't hiding away as much, but if you even tried to go over to him he would stomp. I was getting bitten pretty much every day although thankfully he seemed to not even notice the kids running around the house as he has never given any of them a proper bite although he found it amusing to chase them! He refused to use a litter tray as anything other than a toy to dig in so every morning was the annoying job of going to all his chosen places to clean up the little presents left for me. Even though he wasn't cuddly and a bit of a pain around the house I wouldn't have been without him because all his little traits were amusing to watch and I was totally in love with him just for being him. Then one day, just a quiet night after the kids were in bed, we were watching telly and he just waddled over, climbed up onto the sofa and laid down next to us. I was overwhelmed to say the least! I don't think I've ever felt more honoured in my life. Since then he started to come up on my bed to sleep with me some nights, sometimes across my head, sometimes using my feet as a pillow. He will follow me around the house when he's awake... even to the bathroom! When he's hungry he will nibble my toes to get my attention but he hasn't drawn blood with a bite in ages. He still has his dens all around the house and still refuses to use a litter tray but I don't care. He is my funny, caring, greedy, silly, fluffy baby boy and I will always love him just the way he is!

I got our neutered boy when he was 6 months old. He came from a great breeder, but whether or not his experiences between his breeder and me affected him, I don't know. I bought him from a bloke who had him locked up in a dog cage, fat as butter, petrified of people. He had cage syndrome and thought the world was only 3 foot long.

He is not a cuddly skunk. He hates being picked up, although he doesn't usually bite now. He does wet himself, which is an improvement on pooping himself. He will allow me to give him a stroke if he's eating but that's it. He has pulled skirting boards off, climbed as high as the ceiling, bitten both my cats, and has a thing for shredding loo rolls. I got our girl 2 months after, in the hopes that having a skunky friend would help him settle down and give him a helping hand dealing with his past trauma. She was 2 and 1/2 and came from a pet shop. Our boy immediately tried to mate with her, but he was still too fat to make contact. I got her spayed 3 days later, but she then spent the next 3 weeks screaming and squeaking all night! Multiple trips to the vet, lots of questions to other skunk owners and we never did find out what was wrong. One day she just stopped, and we put it down to sulking. This was also the time I smelt my first spray, as she sprayed when my friend picked her up before she had healed. Touch wood, we haven't had any since. Our girl took to walking on a lead very easily. She won't go out if it's cold, raining, or before 10pm. She hates dogs, groups of children, loud groups of youths, anything with small wheels such as prams, scooters and trolleys. She does like to play chase games when we're out though. She has no problem meeting strangers, is fantastic at being picked up and handled. She bites sometimes, but doesn't break the skin any more, and it's not malicious, she just gets confused between fingers and food sometimes. She likes to climb on my lap in the evenings and sleep with me on the sofa. Her favourite thing is to be massaged all down her back. The only problem I've had with her is a strong determination to rip up all carpets. She will just scratch and pull until it's just balls of fluff. I love both of them to bits and I would do anything to keep them safe

The only problem I’ve had is people reporting me to the council for having the skunk that doesn’t make a noise, is litter and harness trained. It’s happened a few times, just because she was a skunk. People are the problem not the animal.

Our first year of keeping skunks I lost both of them to renal failure due to ingesting grapes, that was 10ish years ago now. I will say house skunks will dig up anything, if you are house proud they are not for you, they will toilet behind doors if you upset them and they will wait months to do it too (gives me a false sense of security). They will break into the fridge and they know it’s wrong as they will run with the food under the kick boards as soon as they hear you coming down the stairs. They will dig up laminate, carpet, wood flooring if they find a weak spot and they think something exciting is behind that door. They will never give up either! One of our grils even dug her way through a wall! Random sprays now and again, normally when I was at work and I would drive up the road and smell it and have to apologise to the neighbours. Anything left on the floor fabric wise is now officially the skunks, and it will end up in their den.

I got my skunk after 1 week of light research. He was my first ever pet. Got him from great breeders who socialised him very well so has never had any confidence issues. He does run like a jessie when there is a loud noise but I think that’s just him being cautious. The first few months weren't too bad; he sprayed on the first night I got him and a couple of months later due to having a ball dropped on him. His litter training was hit and miss but mainly hit. When he hit puberty the biting, pee trails and general devilry started. He would bite anyone at any given moment, he would wee anywhere. He seriously cut my mum’s arm to where she needed antibiotics. The amounts of nights I would cry because he was making my mum and dad’s life a living hell. He would growl and hiss when my dad was in the room and attack his feet with malicious intent. I got him snipped in the January (the skunk, not my dad). The random biting stopped the wee trails stopped. But he still hated my dad. He ruined the living room carpet by digging and weeing on it. It had to be removed and the wooden floor deep cleaned before putting lino down. A few days after the lino was put down he ripped it just to get through a door. He would wee on the dog beds to leave his mark every time they got off their bed. He would bite their feet and dig his claws into their back. I moved into a new house with and he shredded all corners of the carpet. He weed and pooed where he wanted. He ruined my bedroom carpet and all of my bedding by either digging or weeing on them. He used to bite my friend’s dog’s feet all the time. I am now in a new property and he uses his litter tray all the time and is permanently on the sofa having cuddles. Being a skunk owner is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life and I doubt anything will ever come close.

I got my skunk as a rehome, after a good year plus of researching and researching skunks. I haven't had him a year yet and he is amazing. My main issue was learning how little food they need over Christmas. I felt mean with how little food he was having but he didn't need it he was asleep for most of the day! I cut his portions down but initially didn't cut them down enough or soon enough and then was very careful what I fed so he didn't get fat.

Menu 1

Broccoli, mushroom, french beans, tomatoe, chopped pear and a chicken wing all sprinkled with vita skunk.


Menu 2

Bravo chicken, whole grain pasta, sweet potato, yellow squash, tomato, goat cheese, brocolli, bell pepper, olive oil, apple cider vinager, radish, and strawberry.


Menu 3

Raw chicken, bean sprouts, carrot, mixed peppers, a variety of cabbage, banana, pear, melon, blueberry yoghurt and vitaskunk.


Greedy Skunks
Bad skunk

Skunks are always hungry, so keep them away from your fridge.


Skunks Eating
Skunk Eating Kibble

Baby Skunk Eating

So cute.


Magick Begging

Skunks are very good at begging.