A dog or a cat… hey, everyone has one of those. Maybe you want to think outside the box a little bit. Exotic pet ownership is on the rise in the United States, and there are a number of different animals that fit the needs and interest of humans. Some animals, like Chimps, are completely unreasonable due to their nature, size, and cost (and legal prohibitions against ownership). Some animals are too dangerous, too expensive, or otherwise just not practical for the average family to own. But, for a few people who want something completely different, a pet skunk might just fill that need.
A pet skunk? Really? Do people keep skunks as pets?
The simple answer is yes, people do keep skunks as pets. However, the practice is relatively rare, because skunks require a high level of care. Also, regulations in some areas make it impossible to own a skunk.
Where does one get a pet skunk?
There are skunk breeders. Also animal shelters and rescue centers have skunks available at times. The rescued animals may not be healthy enough to re-enter the wild, or they have been conditioned to human behavior and would not survive in the wild. These animals may be available as well. In addition, and a less pleasant thought, fur farms may have extra skunks they do not want, and those may be available too. (We’re not even going to tackle the topic of skunk furs in this article. That definitely could have an article all on its own). Baby skunk availability reaches a high in the spring right after mating season and those skunks may need a home if they’ve been bred for pet purposes.
Don’t they smell like skunks?
Skunks are well known for their spray. It’s a defense mechanism that is of utmost importance for survival in the wild. The gland however, can be removed when the baby skunk is about four weeks of age and that will prevent the stinky skunk smell.
However, this practice is illegal in some places, including the United Kingdom, where it was outlawed in 2006.
Skunks are native to the Americas, and are even mentioned as early as the Columbus days, in his writings. Reportedly, skunks were kept as pets by the natives and by the explorers as a way to get rid of rodents.
However, through much of US history, the keeping of wild animals remained completely illegal, in part because of the fear of the spread of rabies.
In the last two to three decades however, skunk fans have made themselves heard and there has been an increase in skunk ownership. Still, the majority of the states do not allow individuals to own skunks, and many of the remaining ones require various types of permits in order to be considered.
Skunks are fascinating creatures. They’re intelligent and curious and quite persistent when they want something. Much like kittens (and children), they are known for getting into things, like cabinets, and finding all kinds of interesting things they want to do around the house (with little regard to the destruction left behind).
If you’re interested in skunk ownership and want to know more, there are several resources for more details.
We found Skunk Haven to be a helpful place to research as you learn to care for your pet skunk. Of course, as a reminder, please check your local regulations and speak to a professional and your vet before considering any exotic species.