How to Feed and Care for a Pet Skunk Correctly
Skunks are becoming a popular exotic pet. They are not allowed as pets everywhere so before you become too committed to the idea of getting a pet skunk, be sure to check your area laws in regards to keeping these exotic pets. Here we are going to talk a bit about basic feeding of a pet skunk as this is a problem many skunk owners have.
Skunks are nocturnal, they tend to be most active in the evening, though the night, and some are also active in the morning. As for their behavior, it is very much like that of an over curious ferret. They can climb and will try to open cupboards if they smell something yummy on the other side. As such you will also want to make sure that the personality and behavior aspects of a pet skunk fit with your expectations of having a skunk as an exotic pet.
Note: You cannot catch wild skunks and keep them as pets since skunks are known to carry rabies so this is a risk in addition to the fact that catching and keeping any wild animal as a pet is generally illegal.
photo source - this skunk looks like he needs his nails trimmed.
How to Feed a Skunk Correctly
Correctly feeding pet skunks is usually the biggest problem for pet owners. Many people feed skunks cat food, but cat food is too fatty and contains too much protein. Skunks quickly become obese on cat food. As such a top quality, grain free, dog food is better (top quality dog foods will not contain BHA, BHT, by-products, corn gluten meal, or brewers rice).
The problem with dog food is that it does not contain taurine which skunks require. You can buy taurine in powder, liquid, or tablets. Taurine should be feed at 200 mg per day. Calcium supplements are also a good idea.
The skunk's diet should be 5 % fruit, 30 % vegetables, and 65 % meat and dairy products.
The vegetables can be fresh or thawed from frozen, you should not feed asparagus, onions, or iceberg lettuce.
Most fruits are fine except for grapes and avocados. Fruits should be given only twice a week, not daily.
You can feed your skunk cooked meat; chicken is the most natural for them. Never feed them fat.
Skunks can have nuts and almonds as offer a good source of Vitamin E.
Skunks can have eggs (soft boiled – shell and all), and most dairy products except high fat milk and high fat cheeses. Avoid feeding any yogurts with artificial sweeteners (aspartame).
You can also buy crickets, meal worms, and so forth for your skunk. Live crickets may escape so you may prefer to buy dried crickets.
When the skunk is younger it needs to have 3-5 small meals, you cannot feed a skunk free choice, it will eat too much and get fat. For most people this means feeding early in the evening, later at night, early in the morning, and another meal later in the morning if the skunk is still awake.
Skunks do not drink a lot of water, but should have fresh water every day.
Signs of Malnutrition in Skunks
- Obesity is a big problem for skunks, so they will appear to be too fat even when malnourished
- A skunk that is thin and drags its hind legs may be suffering from a lack of calcium.
- A skunk that is loosing its hair may be suffering from an improper diet (or mites).
- A skunk that is having vision problems may be suffering from a lack of taurine.
- Yellow coloring may be a sign of poor care, or a poor diet.
Other Skunk Information
Many people keep their skunk in a large cage, letting it out for hours at a time. They can be litter trained, and should have a litter box in their cage as well as one in the house for when they are out playing.
Skunks use their nails to eat, so should not be declawed, you may trim their nails since they will not wear down as much as if the skunk were in the wild.
Be sure to find a veterinarian in your area that is familiar with skunks.
Some people do descent their pet skunks, but this is illegal in some countries.