Hi, and welcome to the Pet Skunk Message Board! Building this forum has been on my to do list for a number of years. As time passes, I find I spend a lot of time both on the phone and computer answering diet and health questions for pet skunk owners. While I enjoy helping people one on one, I can't help feeling there should be a more efficient way. So this forum is my solution. Hopefully it will become a resource for other pet skunk owners and for those who are considering owning a pet skunk.
I got my first skunk almost 35 years ago. Pierre was a handful in every way! He was actually sold before he was weaned. He was one of the last shipments from a Minnesota fur farm before they stopped allowing pet skunks. I was in a Daytona Beach mall feeling like I deserved a special treat for an upcoming birthday. In the mall window were 3 dozen baby skunks. It was like being hit with a bolt of lightning! At that moment, my only thought was I had to get one. Didn't matter that I had no experience with captive wildlife, traveled for work, and had never even had a pet since leaving my parent's home. I went inside to pick out my special gift. Most of the skunks were in a heap and seemed lethargic, but one little guy stood out. Pierre was stomping, and vocalizing with much flaring of his tail. He was perfect! The store boxed him up and off we went with one page of instructions on his care. I set up a box in my laundry room and went to buy the puppy food I had been instructed to feed. Back then, there was no internet to do research on diet. I was disappointed to find he didn't eat the food even though I felt he had to be hungry. I kept trying and even soaked it in water to soften. As I held him, he started to suck on one of fingers, I realized then that he had no teeth! Back to the store for formula! The next day, I took him to the local Veterinarian. I was told Pierre was too young to have been taken from his mother and had never been weaned. The Veterinarian told me he would likely not survive and his only chance was for me to contact a wildlife rehabber for immediate assistance. She gave me detailed instructions on how to care for him until he could be weaned. I followed her instructions, feeding him 6 times a day. He started growing quickly. One night while watching the news, there was a story about the pet store I got Pierre from. The reporter said the store had illegally sold skunks that were too young to cross state lines. They stated that there were only 3 known survivors from the original 36 kits. I have no idea if the Pierre was included in the total because both the Veterinarian and the rehabber had stated they were going to report the store.
Pierre continued to grow into a large fellow. His hormones kicked in and he became hard to handle. The rehabber was not much help, she only kept skunks until they could be released back to the wild. She did say I should have him neutered to calm him down. It worked and after a few months, Pierre was back to being a lap skunk. Pierre became a seasoned traveler as I moved around Florida opening or remodeling stores for my job. I settled in South Florida in 1985 and began to build a life. Pierre lived to be 9 and a half years old. I had to have him put down when he developed a painful hip dysplasia that did not respond to treatment. Pierre was the first of many skunks but will never be forgotten!
Since then I have met many skunk owners. Information, though often questionable, is now widely available about pet skunk care on the internet. I still believe pet skunks don't get a fair deal as there are too many pet stores that still tell people to feed dog or cat food rather than the species appropriate diet they deserve. Too many people feed an unbalanced diet and the skunk pays the price with painful, bone and joint issues like Metabolic Bone Disease, dental issues and worse. Because they are captive wildlife, their instinct is to act normal until they can no longer compensate. That gives very little time to make life saving changes. It is not uncommon for skunk owners to find their beloved pet dead and not know what happened. This has to change and I am committed to making it happen.