skunks Many captive animals run the risk of developing unnatural
/ stereotypical behavior. By encouraging natural behavior
this is prevented and keeps the animals fit and healthy. Enrichment
works only when something is changed regularly. Limit it to
a few new things each time. If everything suddenly is changed
stress can occur due to overstimulation. There must always
be a stable and emotionally safe place. There are several
ways to enrich a skunks life. Skunks are animals with a good
sense of smell. Food can be hidden in a container with bark
or hay, paper bags or can be offered in feeder balls / tubes.
The nesting material can easily be used as enrichment. Sometimes
hay, then straw or blankets. By using different detergents
or fabric softeners a blanket gets suddenly a very different
smell that is enriching. The normal natural behaviors such
as using their nails can be a fine distraction. A sandbox
for digging or pruning wood waste produces results quickly.
Conspecifics or other animals can also be seen as enrichment
if they do not bother each other every day. There must be
for dogs and home made games are excellent to enrich a skunks
life. Toys that are present every day are no longer a challenge
as they become part of their territory. Swapp old toys and
put new in their place every few weeks.
skunk has at the end of the rectum two anal glands, like cats,
dogs, ferrets and other Carnivora. In skunks thay have the
size of a bean and they can aim with it (most Carnivora can
not). The odor is that is created there contains mercaptans,
the same substance that is added to give the normally odorless
natural gas the typical and very distinctive smel. If a skunk
sprays the concentration of these substances is so high that
it attach to the mucosa and could be smelled for days without
the surroundings smelling anymore. The odor is different for
everyone. Many people disgust it but there are people that
even like the smell. Many descriptions are used, garlic, burnt
rubber, rotting cabbage, natural gas and a big joint. An adult
skunk that is well socialized doesn't use his glands.
do you recognize that a skunk will spray? First, there skunk
must be under a lot of stress. The skunk is then on his guard.
Usually it tries to get away, if this fails it will start
threatening by hissing / sniffing and the tail raised and
spread wide and stamp its feet. If the danger than persists
the skunk turns his butt at the assailant and bulges out a
bit of rectum. If this still does not work then in a moment
appear two little nipples (the anal glands) and out comes
with great strength and a radius of gland fluid accurately
aimed to the attacker. A skunk uses its glands only when it
sees no other way to flee and think it is about to be killed,
it is the last resort that a skunk has, and as the skunks
themselves are not fond of the smell. Moreover, it takes another
few days before the glandfluids have been replaced with new
after spraying and during these days a skunk is defenseless.
This means that you would have to chase a skunk, corner it
and then have to grab the skunk very roughly in order to be
sprayed. In practice this doesn't occur with captive bred
skunks kept as pets if they have a caring and responsible
owner. Only very young skunks lack full control over their
anal glands and may "leak". Well cared for skunks have a neutral
smell and often take on the smell of their surroundings. This
is because the coat can absorb odors due to a special hair
structure. A skunk that sleeps in straw will smell like straw
and when they sit a while in the lap of someone wearing perfume
it will, after a few minutes, smell like that perfume. A well
cared for skunk doesn't smell as unpleasant as you might think
are various means which is said it can be used to remove
the skunk odor. The MythBusters tested these but only
the following recipe really works properly.
liter of hydrogen peroxide, 3% ¼ cup of sodiumbicarbonate
(baking soda), 1 to 2 tablespoons liquid hand soap.
the ingredients together in a plastic container with a
wooden or plastic spoon. Do not use metal objects, which
can be oxidized. Bring the foaming mixture to the affected
areas. If used on humans or animals make sure it doesn't
get into ears, eyes and mouth. Allow the mixture to do
it's work at least 5 minutes and rinse thoroughly with
lukewarm water. If necessary repeat one more time if the
smell has not completely disappeared.
skunk is willing to use a litter box, but sometimes he is
lazy and does not want to travel any great distance to the
litter box when he can do his duty nearby. Sometimes he may
not use it at all, but choose another favorite location usually
in a corner. Changes in the environment, such as a new born
baby, a divorce, another pet, disease etcetera can be causing
unsanitary habits of the skunk. During the mating season many
skunks are known to get a little too preoccupied with their
hormones and forget to use their litter box... Staining the
floor with urine and excrement.
people wonder whether skunks can be kept around other pets.
Rabbits, rodents, birds and reptiles are a prey item for skunks,
so it is advisable not to keep them within reach of the sometimes
very rapid skunks. Skunks are very agile and can also use
their strong legs and claws to open cages.
dogs and ferrets that tolerate the skunk may go well together.
Sometimes they get along so fine that they play and sleep
together. If the cat, dog or ferret has a hunting instinct
it is asking for trouble sooner or later.
have powerful claws and they use them as tools. That can include
tearing up a newspaper, dragging clothes all over or even
opening the refrigerator! While searching for a place to sleep
they can open up a kitchen cabinet and toss your pots and
pans all over the kitchen floor... Imagine the noise in the
middle of the night!
are very curious and inquisitive animals. You must keep the
windows and doors of your house closed at all times, so they
can not slip out in an unguarded moment and you discover that
he could not be found after hours of searching. Be alert to
visitors, they must close the door firmly behind him. A skunk
that has wandered of usually don't find his way home again.
He will be distracted by the many new impressions that he
gets in his nose and starts to explore. In case of trouble
he will hide and wander further from home. Runaway skunks
are hard to find and can fall victim to dogs, traffic or people
who regard them as pests. Have your skunk microchipped and
registered, this way a skunk can quickly be reunited with
his owner when he escapes and is found.
animals can bite, including skunks. Skunks have a teeth and
jaws that are built to be able to bite through bones. If skunks
bite, then bite them fast and short but very hard. Often bloody.
Fortunately skunks do not bite without provocation. By far
the most skunks will always try to escape or hide. As their
last resort, they will proceed to bite.
US skunk owners;
let anyone touch or pet your captive born domesticated skunk
or allow any of their pets near your skunk. If medical attention
is needed, doctors and hospital staff are required to report
bites by exotic pets to the local health department. This
even means if the owner of the captive born pet skunk or family
member gets bit!!!! This may lead to your skunk being seized
and euthanized to be tested for rabies. There is no quarantine
period. Although there are no cases of our pet captive skunks
having rabies, people who do not own captive born skunks still
assume the worst.
JOKE ABOUT BEING BIT BY YOUR PET SKUNK. THE WRONG PERSON EAVES
DROPPING CAN STILL REPORT IT!
behavior can be divided into several categories;
aggression: Most skunks are very fixated on food. This
can express itself in food aggression. When the food dish
is offered it can be violently pulled out of the hands and
hand offered snacks are quickly snatched. Quite often there
this results in a bite to the hand. Skunks don't see very
well and sometimes bite the fingers rather than grabbing the
snack. Even if hands smell of food it can happen that a skunk
thinks there is something to eat and rises to the bait. This
is not intentionally malicious but it is annoying. Offering
snacks on a flat hand can prevent your skunk to bite they
learn the same way. The mother skunk offers food to her kits
and if her kits bite her too hard she will your fingers, but
they do not learn from it. A very effective way to discourage
food aggression is to offer snacks with a metal spoon or tweezers.
After a few vigorous attempts of biting the spoon or tweezers,
they quickly realized that it hurts and they take the snacks
carefully. It may seem cruel, but in nature the mother also
drift: Some skunks are prone to territoriality, which
is usually by small housing. More space, a minimum 65,5 square
feet ( 20 m2) for 1 to 2 skunks, works magic.
Fear is a learned behavior, usually by being seriously frightened
of something or by a painful experience. It is very difficult
to get rid of fear in an animal. Penalties will only aggrivate
fear. One has to try and win the confidence of the animal.
When biting occurs due to dominance, it is most seen in handreared
animals. These see people as their own kind and want to dominate
their owners also. That usually occurs around puberty period
of the animal. The only solution here is not to show fear
of the animal but to ignore it or push it away. Eventually
the animal will realize that he can not win the battle and
will give in. If this is not working spaying or neutering
will be a solution.
causes: In the mating season, puberty or during pregnancy,
some skunks start to display biting. This is due to changes
in hormones. Usually it is only a short period of time and
goes by quickly. With persistent biting it is perhaps caused
by an hormonal disbalance. This may be caused by cysts or
tumors in the uterus, ovaries or testes. In case of suspicion
of such the animal should be examined by a veterinarian.
When an animal is often irritated, for example disrupting
his sleep over and over, they can bite out of protest. One
often sees this behavior in nocturnal animals with which one
wants to be cuddling all day. When the cage/skunkhouse is
in a loud or busy corner of the room it is more likely that
bite incidents arise.
cuddly or not?
has no effect on the character. A skunk does not become necessarely
cuddly due to good nurturing. It does have influence on the
manageabily of an animal. Each skunk is different with its
own traits and not every one will be a lapsitter skunk, some
just prefer to go their own way. Sometimes it may take months
or over a year before the animal comes to you by itself for
attention or to be petted on the back.
is often confused with cuddly. This has little to do with
each other. A cuddly character is a feature that occurs in
both wild and domesticated animals. However, not all domesticated
animals are the cuddly type. Cuddly means that an animal has
an urge for physical contact (with people or other animals).
tameness says something about the degree of manageability.
Stress has an enormous influence on tameness and can make
even the most cuddly, hand tame into a wild animal. And the
opposite is known. A real wild animal (ie directly frostressfactorm
the wild) can due to stress get into a kind of shock that
makes an animal appaer tame and cuddly. But once the has been
removed the actual extent of tameness becomes apparent again.
can be confused with wild/feral behavior. Being false has
nothing to do with wild/feral behavior. When a wild animal
reacts offensive they are trying to defend themselves. In
most cases it will first try to flee. If it feels threatened
and sees no way out than to can attack. An animal is false
if there is no apparent reason to attack. For instance, an
animal is sitting on your lap enjoying caresses and the next
moment bites out of the blue. Most animals are made false.
Often false animals were once abused or may be seriously ill
(eg, brain tumor or hormonal disorders).
can be divided into different degrees:
the animal is unapproachable, will try to flee once caught
and makes every effort to get loose. This includes scratching,
biting and kicking. In short, as a wild animal would behave.
It will never eat out of the hand.
the animal will try to flee and once caught tries to wriggle
itself free. It will not bite. It waits from a safe distance
for food to be put on the ground, it doesn't eat out the hand.
tame, the animal will try to escape once caught but will
not bite. If the animal is offered treats it takes the goodies
from the hand without hessitation.
tame, the animal is very easy to handle and takes a treat
out of hand without hessitations.
Biology of the Striped Skunk B.J.
Management and Biology of Captive Striped Skunks (Mephitis mephitis)
Wade-Smith and M.E. Richmond
Overwinter Care and Reproduction of Captive Striped Skunks (Mephitis
Lariviére, Y.T. Hwang, W.A. Gorsuch and S. A. Medill
value of North American skunks D.E.
Intake, Weight Changes and Activity of Confined Striped Skunks (Mephitis
mephitis) in Winter M.
Aleksiuk and A.P. Stewart