If you’ve ever watched the Pepe Le Pew cartoon, you may have been fascinated with that gorgeous black and white creature that thinks a cat is a skunk. With his suave ways and unwitting humor, you may have found yourself considering–albeit for a short time–whether skunks would make good pets. After all, they have beautiful fluffy fur, striking markings, and they’re about the size of a cat or a small dog.
But if you’ve ever encountered a skunk in nature, you probably gave up on those dreams of domestication very quickly.
Wild skunks should not be domesticated and kept as pets. However, domesticated skunks can make good house pets as they’re very loving. If you come to Alligator Attraction and meet Pepe and Pitu, you’ll undoubtedly begin thinking about pet skunks again.
But before you start searching on the internet for skunk breeders, it’s important to know the reality of adopting this playful pet.
Skunks Need Nutrients and Exercise
One of the most shocking truths about owning a pet skunk is that without proper nutrition and plenty of exercise, these animals are prone to diabetes. If you want your skunk to live a healthy and long life, you need to ensure they get the best nutrients, keep their weight down, and get plenty of exercise. Come to think of it, that’s not bad advice for their human owners either.
Know Skunk Laws
Things you should know about skunk laws:
- Skunks are only legal in 17 states
- If you move to a state where owning a skunk is illegal, your skunk is now illegal even if purchased through proper channels in that other state
- If you are caught with an illegal animal, the state reserves the right to destroy it
- Counties may have additional laws governing your skunk even in states where it’s legal to own one
- Always retain proof that you purchased your skunk
As of the writing of this article, they’re only 17 states that allow domesticated skunks. Florida is one of them. The other states are Alabama, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. While it’s legal to own a skunk in these states some of them require a special permit.
Before you adopt a skunk please ensure you are aware of the laws in the state in which you live. Remember also that just because it’s legal in the state where you currently live, if you move to a state where it isn’t legal, you won’t be able to get your skunk grandfathered in. You will then have an illegal pet, which means you can’t ensure the animal gets the vet attention it requires to maintain its health.
Even in states where it’s legal to own a skunk, there may be special laws in your county that you’ll need to follow. Ignorance of the law will not get you out of the fines or relinquishing your pet so make sure you perform the necessary research before adopting your domesticated skunk.
If you reside in a state where it is illegal to own a skunk you may not get off with just a fine. The state has the right, if they discover you with an illegal animal, to destroy the animal.
If you adopt a skunk and realize it’s not the right pet for you, and you decide you’d like to sell it to someone else, you will likely need a permit to do so.
If you buy a domesticated skunk, hold on to your receipt. If you are stopped by a wildlife officer they may require you to prove your skunk is a domesticated animal, not a wild skunk.
Skunks Require Specialized Medical Attention
Before adopting or buying a skunk, make sure you have a veterinarian who is knowledgeable about domesticated skunks. You don’t want to take your animal to someone who’s never worked with them before.
Domesticated Skunks Are Not Wild Skunks With Better Manners
Breeders have been domesticating skunks now for about 70 years. One of the largest differences between a wild skunk and a domesticated skunk is that a domesticated skunk has its scent glands removed so it cannot spray. For this reason alone you should never consider returning a domesticated skunk Into the wild.
These animals have no way of defending themselves and they’re not used to foraging for their own food. Some people who adopt exotic animals realize the upkeep is more than they thought and figure instead of trying to find someone else to adopt or purchase the animal, they return them to the wild. To do this likely means the death of the animal.
Skunks can travel many miles in one day. Unlike dogs and cats, they don’t possess a homing instinct. If your pet skunk escapes, they likely won’t know how to find their way home. They’re also at a huge risk with cars on the road.
Skunks Are Refined Eaters
While most of us give our dogs and cats more processed food than we realize, a skunk’s stomach is unable to handle processed foods. They need a balance of meat (chicken or fish), fruit, vegetables, and cooked grains. In fact, a skunk should eat much the same way a healthy human would.
Skunks Require Lots of Stimulation
Skunks are playful. They are not content sitting in a cage and watching the world go by. If they are left alone for long periods of time, they become mischievous and destructive like a puppy.
Just as you may baby proof your home for a toddler, you will need to “skunk-proof” it. These adorable animals have very long claws that can be used to do things only a toddler could dream of. They can get out of closed rooms and open drawers, not to mention scratch things up and open containers.
Skunks also enjoy creating sleeping dens. if you are missing your favorite sweater, you might want to check with your skunk.
Are you ready to own a skunk? Take a look at our ideal skunk owner checklist below.
Ideal Skunk Owner Checklist
You could be a good skunk owner if you:
- live in one of the 17 states where they are legal and have no intention to move to a state where they aren’t
- know of a vet who understands domesticated skunks
- are willing to provide healthy meals for your skunk even if that means cooking for them like a family member
- are willing to baby-proof your house so that your skunk can remain safe
- understand pet skunks are most active at dawn and dusk and you’re okay with that
- are willing to care for and house your pet skunk who will likely live about 10 years
- engage with the animal often
- promise to love the animal and do your best to ensure they don’t get outside on their own
Whether you see yourself as an ideal pet owner for a domesticated skunk or you realize that it’s best that you stick to dogs and cats, you can still come and see our adorable skunk friends at Alligator Attraction.