The Difference Between Domesticated and Wild SkunksSkunks have been domesticated through captive breeding programs for more than 50 years. These skunks are sold as pets and have their scent glands removed when they are between two and five weeks old. A skunk’s primary form of defence is its ability to spray its sulphur-based scent on anything — or anyone — that poses a threat. The removal of their scent glands is a topic of controversy, as it is their only real means of defending themselves. Though they have a naturally potent stench, skunks are rather shy by nature. They can also be playful and affectionate. When these animals are raised in captivity, they make mellow companions that love to give and receive attention. The loss of their scent glands leaves them defenceless, making it necessary for them to remain in a protected environment.
The Logistics of Skunk PetsKeeping a skunk as a pet is a big responsibility. Their instinct is to roam over a large territory. If they happen to get out of the house or escape the yard, they could travel miles in any direction before the owners realize they’re gone. Domesticated skunks do not have the same instincts for returning home that domesticated cats and dogs have. They lack the training they would have received from their mothers in the wild and are vulnerable to predation and run-ins with cars. Without their scent glands, they also don’t have their only means of protection. Pet skunks require a significant amount of care. They eat a lot of food from a variety of sources. They are known to forage in the trash, but they can’t properly digest processed food. A healthy diet for a pet skunk consists of:
- Lean, healthy proteins from animal sources, such as fish or chicken
- Small amounts of fruit
- Cooked, whole grains