Skunks as Pets

101 Skunks – Great Pets

Skunks may have a bad press, but these amazing animals can be wonderful pets. They typically get along fine with cats and dogs that are about their size.

A series spotlighting pets other than cats and dogs, including hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, ferrets and more. Plus pigs, hedgehogs and capybaras.

How to Care

Skunks require a lot of attention and can’t be left alone all day, so they aren’t suitable for beginner pet owners. If you are ready to commit the time and energy, you can get a companion skunk from a licensed breeder or dealer.

Skunks are omnivores and will eat dog food, fruits, vegetables, and other items that can be prepared for them. They need a lot of variety in their diet, and fresh food is always best.

Young skunks need to be fed frequently, about five small meals a day to thrive. As they grow, you can feed them less often.

Skunks are excellent climbers, so be sure to put baby latches on kitchen and bathroom cabinets and doors to prevent them from getting into things they shouldn’t. They can also climb through screens and pry open drier vents, so consider installing Plexiglas barriers or commercial pet gates around the house. Skunks must be bathed regularly to keep their fur clean and odor free. They can be a bit skittish, but most people find it easier to bathe them when they are sleeping or in an aquarium-type tub.


Skunks have an inquisitive nature and are often in your face, so training is needed to teach them to respect people and their personal space. They can play rough and biting is common. They need to be taught that it is not ok to nip or scratch at people, other pets, and children. If a skunk bites, it needs to be taken to the vet for treatment.

Skunks like to explore every corner of their homes and must be fenced in or given baby gates or locks. They can open cabinets and fridge doors so everything must be kept high or locked away. Small toys, blankets and laundry must be carefully kept away from them as they will chew them or swallow them.

Pet skunks need a great deal of attention and time to bond with humans. They need to be taught the routine of their lives and how to use a litter box (similar to cats). They are omnivores, so they need to have a lot of variety in their diet as well.


Skunks are playful and intelligent animals. They like to dig in the carpet, open refrigerator doors and steal blankets from your bed. They may also chew on wires and scratch up wood furniture. They do not require much physical exercise, but they should be walked on leash regularly and allowed to roam outdoors.

Wild skunks are omnivores and eat everything from insects, snakes and rodents to seeds, vegetables and garbage. A domestic pet skunk will need a varied diet. A pre-packaged skunk food is available, but it should be supplemented with cooked chicken, eggs and fish plus a variety of fresh and frozen vegetables and fruits.

Avoid sugar, as skunks are prone to diabetes and other health problems. Lynnda Butler, president of the Florida Skunks as Pets, says a small amount of sugar (such as an eighth of a graham cracker or vanilla wafer) can be fed to skunks as a treat, but Skunk Haven and other skunk experts eschew processed sugar altogether.


Skunks are very demanding pets with high care requirements. As such they are not suitable for beginner pet owners and people who don’t have a lot of time to devote to them. Despite this, they are popular pets and some even appear on television shows such as Animal Planet’s Peculiar Pets. The show features a pet skunk among pygmy goats, hedgehogs, mini donkeys, and more exotic animals that find deep bonds with their human owners.

Domesticated skunks can live 10 to 15 years in captivity, which is much longer than they can expect in the wild where most die from natural predators and car accidents. They should always be kept in a secure enclosure and be provided with plenty of exercise, out-of-cage time, and interaction. Skunks are also susceptible to disease such as leptospirosis (a bacterial infection that can cause kidney or liver failure), distemper, and rabies. Skunks can be vaccinated for rabies with a killed-virus vaccine that is similar to that used in ferrets.

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