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Common Name:
Skunk - Striped
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Common Name:  Skunk - Striped

Other Common Names:  Domestic Skunk

Scientific Name:  Mephitis mephitis  (Full Taxonomy)

Group:  

Origin or Range:  North America and Mexico

Relative Size:  Average  
    (as compared to other ferrets)

Average Lifespan:  13 year(s)

Compatibility:  Uncertain   
    (as compared to other ferrets)

Category:  Mammals » Ferrets
Animal Description:  

The Striped Skunk has intrigued humans for centuries. They are becoming more and more popular as pets and it is no surprise why. The skunk can make a wonderful pet in the right environment. One skunk breeder summed up the skunk's wonderful personality best, by stating that "Skunks are like flower children, easy going."

Striped Skunks are almost exclusively nocturnal, active in the early evening hours and most of the night. In the wild they live in dens under rocky outcroppings, banks, lumber piles, stumps, crevices, or sometimes in dens that were made by other animals. Sometimes they live under old abandoned buildings as well. Often in the warm summer months they will bed down in vegetation. Skunks are highly social and may live together in the wild. They conserve body heat during the winter months by sleeping together. In addition to sleeping together they may also hunt together. Skunks are very loving and protective of their young. Skunks do not actually hibernate but become inactive for periods of days or weeks. True hibernation requires living off of stored body fat and skunks do not do this. The wild Striped Skunk eats bugs, rodents, vegetation, snakes and frogs. The Striped Skunk will make a peculiar purring sound and may even growl when it is startled. Before emitting its sulfuric-like spray in self-defense, it will warn first by raising its tail and stomping its feet. The spray not only has a terrible odor but also can temporarily blind its target. A skunk's spray is not urine. It is musk produced by a pair of 'musk glands' about three fourths of an inch in diameter and located on both sides of the rectum. This spray can reach an enemy 10 to 15 feet away. The wild skunk is your friend and a very crucial part of our ecosystem. They kill garden pests such as grubs and snails, in addition to the rest of the insects that find your vegetables before you do. Our friend the skunk also controls populations of cockroaches, mice and rats from breeding rampantly. The skunk can also control populations of rattlesnakes, and poisonous bugs like the black widow spider and scorpions. If you are worried about wild skunks in your yard, keep food, including pet food, out of reach and in closed containers and also make sure to keep trash picked up. If they are living under your house and you don't want them, they can be repelled by stinky stuff like mothballs. Believe it or not they have very picky, sensitive noses. They also hate loud music. Lay the speakers on the floor, preferably with a large amount of bass. A common myth about the skunk is that they are rabies carriers, and that all domestic skunks have rabies. This is a dangerous myth. They can become infected with rabies like other mammals such as dogs. Being infected by a rabid animal only infects them with rabies. Typically this is when they are bitten or eat a carcass of a dead animal.

The domestic skunk is intelligent and witty. You can see their little eyes just dance with excitement and glee! They can also be very stubborn, though it is difficult to stay angry with them. If you tell them no, or ask them to do something, they stomp their cute little feet with the look of laughter in their eyes. It can be difficult determining who is the boss at times! The personality of the Domestic Skunk is said to be the most unique of any exotic animal. Domestic skunks make outstanding pets for some people. You have to realize that skunks are not like a dog or cat. They can be very destructive at times. If a skunk is not spayed or neutered they can be very aggressive. To keep your skunk comfortable, give them soft, cuddly materials for bedding. Give it an article of clothing that you have worn with your scent on it. It will help the bonding process and assure it when it is alone. Good bedding materials are old towels, old sheets, blankets and even old articles of clothing. Just give your skunk the bedding. Skunks are talented and like to make their own beds. It is a great deal of fun to watch them arrange their bedding. A skunk "carrying" a blanket is hilarious. They pull the blanket backward with their front paws. Shoving it backwards. When they are young it is easier to have them in a confined space. You might want to keep them in an extra bedroom, or maybe the bathroom. This helps keep them safe from harm and also helps with the toilet training process. When you are sitting around reading, or watching TV, you can keep an eye on your skunks, let it roam around the house. Eventually you will let it have total access to most of the house. Skunks are very unique; if you even have a twinkling of wanting a pet skunk please read every reference of the pet skunk on the web and in books. If you have decided to bring a pet skunk into your home the most important thing you need to do is form a firm bond with this little pet. Keep him close to you and with you the majority of time. Many keepers will carry them inside their shirts or even their bras. The skunk is near you and can hear your heart beat. Skunks have an acute sense of smell, being close to you and smelling you will knit the bond. Little skunks love to play. They enjoy it when you get on the floor with them. They love to stomp their little front legs at you, and then they scoot backwards. You do the same with your hands, stomp, stomp, and rake back. He will repeat the process, sometimes circling around and repeating it. They love to play with toys. Tug of war is great fun! Don't teach your skunks to play rough. You want a gentle, loving pet; not an aggressive pet. Skunks can be very destructive; they can scratch up your carpeting and tear it to shreds. This is the nature of the skunk. If you are not ready for this type of behavior you should choose another pet. Skunks can escape out of the smallest of places. They can flatten out to the depth of a carpet and scoot under many things, for example, doors. Skunks have no homing instincts. They have a strong sense of curiosity and once out, they will sniff and investigate until they are totally lost. If the skunk is de-scented (the scent glands have been removed) when you purchased it, it has no way of protecting himself in the wild. Make sure there isn't any way for him to get outside. Check out dryer vents, heat vents, and pet doors, there are numerous ways for a little skunk to get out. It is extremely rare that a lost skunk is ever found. Other things you need to do to skunk proof your home is to put child proof latches on all the cupboards that could contain dangerous materials or things you don't want the skunk to get into. Skunks love to dig, keep the potted plants out of reach. Look around at your low tables. Skunks front feet are very much like hands, they have quite the reach on them and can pull things down from tables and get injured. Make sure the skunk has plenty of fresh water available to him at all times.

Their dietary requirements are fresh vegetables, fruits, whole wheat, dairy products, and a limited amount of high quality protein; this can become quite expensive. Broiled chicken and turkey are good sourced of protein. Skunks should not be fed beef. Some hobbyists have reported that cheese should not be given to skunks, though others maintain that small amounts of cheese are okay, including cottage cheese. Also some really seem to love flavored yogurts. Do not feed your skunks cat food - it may kill them. There are some specialized skunk diets on the market that may be given with 50% vegetables and 10% fruit. Some hobbyists also recommend feeding a specific blend of vitamins and minerals to help them maintain optimum health and to prevent metabolic bone disease.

Female striped skunks are smaller than males on average and will weigh between three to seven pounds. The larger male will range between seven and ten pounds at maturity. The average overall length of the domestic skunk is about 68 cm.

The Skunk has been raised domestically for over 100 years. Fur farms began breeding the skunk domestically. The skunk fur was sold as Martin Fur. Now skunks are raised domestically for pets. Mephitis mephitis or commonly known as the Striped Skunk, is found in Southern Canada, all of the USA, and northern Mexico. The skunk mates in February followed by a gestation period between 62 and 66 days. Usually three to nine young are born in the litter. Young skunks are weaned when they are about 2 months old.

Specific Care Information: Relative Care Ease: Uncertain

When you choose a vet for your skunk be very picky. Find out what his or her policy is if the skunk should bite someone. Make sure the vet has an updated education in skunks. In fact ask the vet if a skunk always carries rabies. If the answer is yes, run the other way, quick!

A little less than half of the states in the United States allows skunks as pets. Some of these states require permits. But one very important concern you must consider is that there is no approved rabies vaccination in the US. A kitten often bites in play. If the animal has a rabies vaccination the bite is no big deal. If a skunk bites in play and the person that has been bitten reports it, the animal has received a death sentence; he must be tested for rabies. The head is removed from the animal and tested. If you are in a legal state and even if you have a permit, this fact DOES NOT CHANGE! Be very cautious

Skunks that are not spayed tend to go through severe stress with every heat cycle. The stress increases their risk of disease and premature death. In addition some skunks can be very aggressive and vicious if they are not spayed or neutered. Little male skunks should be neutered as early as possible. Right when you first feel their testicles start to develop. This can happen as early as three months. Little female skunks need to be spayed by approximately four months. Though some may be too small at that age to handle the surgery without complications. If they start reaching sexual maturity they can begin to bite and be quite vicious. After the surgery and when their hormone levels return to normal, their previous personalities will return.

Nearly all skunks have roundworms; you must worm them once a month with a dog wormer recommended by your veterinarian.

There seems to be some debate as to whether or not skunks require vaccinations. Some maintain that skunks require both canine and feline vaccinations; while others state that they do not need either. And this later group also mains that some skunks are highly sensitive to vaccines and may become ill or die. It may be best to consult a veterinarian experienced in captive skunk care to discuss this issue before vaccinating your skunk.

Don't ever de-claw a skunk. A skunk's claws are his fingers. This is how he holds his food and eats. De-clawing a skunk is considered animal abuse by many hobbyists.

The skunk is a very different and unique animal. It is certainly not a pet for everyone. Please research the domestic skunk completely before making a purchase. As in all exotic pets, please don't purchase a skunk because someone else has one. Caring for a skunk takes a tremendous amount of time, finance, love and dedication.

Breeding and Propagation: Relative Breeding Ease: Uncertain

In the wild the Striped Skunk's breeding season usually begins around the end of February or the beginning of March. Baby skunks are most commonly seen in May. The striped skunk can have anywhere from two to sixteen babies, though the average is between four and six.

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Tuesday, 16 September 2014