• PROOF:
  • March 25, 2014

Skunk Lovers Unite: A Look at Pets and Their People

Having photographed for National Geographic for the last 20 years, you learn never to promise someone that they will “make it” into the magazine. After seeing the story about exotic pets in the April issue, some of the folks represented in this post were happy not to be included in our coverage, feeling that the tone of the story would have cast them in an unflattering light.

I spent the better part of 2013 photographing this world for the cover story that appears in the April edition of National Geographic magazine about Wild Pets.

Exotic pet ownership is a very complicated and often controversial relationship that is often portrayed and understood in a narrow and simplistic way. The animals photographed were far from wild. Captive-bred for many generations, these animals can commonly be found in the homes and backyards of places like Indiana, Ohio, Florida, and Texas.

I met committed and caring people who owned monkeys, chimpanzees, lions, tigers, cougar, venomous reptiles, bears, lemurs, kangaroos, bobcats, alligators, hedgehogs, and one with a capybara, a 130-pound rodent found commonly in Brazil.

Surprisingly to me, very few of the people I met were advocates for owning an exotic pet, in fact, most said their best advice would be to tell people not to get an exotic pet. This wasn’t based in regret but issued as a cautionary note for potential owners about the extraordinary responsibility and commitment required to care for these animals. Each of these people came to be with these animals in different ways, and their relationships to these animals are just as different.

Albert Killian, a gentle man fascinated by snakes, lives side by side with king cobras, Egyptian cobras and other extremely venomous snakes. His bedroom, where he keeps them, looks more like an exhibit in a zoo. He adores and respects an animal that doesn’t really give or receive affection. He has been bitten over 100 times.

Conversely, for the last 33 years, Alison Pascoe Freedman was rarely more than an arms-length away from Amelia, her precocious and affectionate capuchin monkey. Amelia was a small animal and a large part of Alison’s life. The two went everywhere together as Alison often carried Amelia around in her pocket.

I was really interested in the differences but also the similarities of these relationships. Were all monkey people like Alison? Was there such a thing as monkey person? I certainly knew that all monkeys were not Amelia.

(Read more about Amelia and other exotic pets in yesterday’s Proof Post.)

Enter Skunk Fest, the labor-of-love brainchild of Deborah Cipriani who lives with and cares for more than 50 skunks at her Ohio home. For the past 12 years it’s been a community event that connects skunk owners with each other and a curious public.

Left: Shawn Geary and Allo. Shawn is an IT professional. His grandmother had skunks that he played with as a child. His wife Carole always wanted one. Right: Skunk Fest founder Deborah Cipriani with 3 year-old Ozzie.
Left: Shawn Geary and Allo. Shawn is an IT professional. His grandmother had skunks that he played with as a child. His wife Carole always wanted one. Right: Skunk Fest founder Deborah Cipriani with 3 year-old Ozzie.

 

“I would not be without a pet skunk. They are very smart, have feelings and [bond] to their human companions. But they are not for everyone. Research is the key before people get any animal.” —Deborah Cipriani

 

We built a temporary studio and invited a cross section of skunks and their owners to be photographed. The idea was to photograph the same kind of animal and show the diversity of ownership. What does an exotic pet owner look like? As you can see, they are as diverse as the animals they love. Their relationship no different than one might hope to have with a dog or cat.

8 year-old Maverick Anderson and his 9 year-old sister Maggie each care for their skunk Loki.
8 year-old Maverick Anderson and his 9 year-old sister Maggie each care for their skunk Loki.

 “Skunk Fest was such an exciting day.  Maggie was 9 and Maverick was 8 at the time of the photo.  Loki is our beloved skunk who both Maggie and Maverick care for.  We purchased him from a breeder in Frazeysburg, Ohio, and pay a fee every year for a permit to keep him.  He is fun to play with and quite the snuggle buddy.  He sleeps in the crook of our daddy’s neck every night and loves to sleep in our sock basket during the day.  It’s quite funny to go get a pair of socks and his cute little face pops out.  His favorite toy is a “Furby” that talks.  He carries it around. He’s a part of our family.” —The Andersons

 

Left: Nikki Edwards holding Bandit. Right: Her mother, Gail Ceneskie, holding Bella. Nikki is a full-time mom and caregiver. Gail is an executive assistant. Bella's head is in Gail's mouth retrieving walnuts.
Left: Nikki Edwards holding Bandit. Right: Her mother, Gail Ceneskie, holding Bella. Nikki is a full-time mom and caregiver. Gail is an executive assistant. Bella’s head is in Gail’s mouth retrieving walnuts.

 

“Bella is a total diva that wants her own way and ONLY her own way, but will cuddle with you when she knows that is what you need. Bandit is a mama’s boy. And I’m his mama. He will snuggle up with me and sleep for hours. They go places with me in their “cadillac” side-by-side double stroller anyplace I can get away with taking them.”—Gail Ceneskie

 

 Husband and wife Jackie and Kevin Hanes with Suzy-Q and Flower. Right: Travis Hamza a disc-jockey holds Nona, a 6-year-old Silverback and dark smoke skunk.
Left: Husband and wife Jackie and Kevin Hanes with Suzy-Q and Flower. Right: Travis Hamza aka DJ Babymaka (Bay-bee-may-kah) holds Nona Dema, a 6 year-old silverback and dark smoke skunk.

 

“People always say skunks are like cats as pets. That always makes me [laugh] because it’s never someone who’s had a skunk, clearly. Skunk people know the truth of this quite well. Skunks are way way more affectionate and way smarter. They personify determination and a keen sense of ingenuity that would put a smile on Willie Nelson’s face and a tear in his eye. Skunks are as American as it gets. Sorry bald eagles.”—Travis Hamza

 

I don’t make any judgment for or against ownership of these animals. I’m just the messenger, but as an outsider, I find it fascinating that these people are connected in this way, by their love of an animal that is feared, misunderstood and not often loved.

See more of Musi’s work on his website.

There are 81 Comments. Add Yours.

  1. Liz
    July 9, 2014

    I have had skunks as companions since 1997. My first one Sew-Phey, then Sadie Rose, then Calliope and now Snickers. My girls were so precious and loving and I miss them, but this little guy keeps me on my toes. He is not as affectionate as were my girls, but love him just as much! Into everything!! Dogs are good so are cats, but give me a companion skunk any day!!

    • Katlin Donnelly
      July 9, 2014

      Give me a skunk ANY day over any other animal. I will never be without a skunk!

  2. Shelley Storch
    April 13, 2014

    Ingrid you can find the legal states listed on our website at http://www.skunkhaven.net/StatesForm.htm

  3. David
    March 31, 2014

    Once, upon leaving a meeting at an office park, I took a short cut to my car by going behind a row of decorative shrubs. In moments I heard a snake-like hissing and saw in my next footfall a juvenile skunk. Amazed with its choice of habitat and relative cordiality, I still chose backwards (half feet,to feet, to full gait).

  4. Dr. Randall Link
    March 31, 2014

    Skunks are obviously not for everyone. They don’t hibernate and cannot live on dog or cat food and without any natural defense you become their sole protector and provider. Remember, children can contract rabies, so if you see a child acting strangely, don’t go near it! Move away and call animal control!

  5. Jamie Kinser
    March 31, 2014

    None of the skunk organizations suggest people acquire skunks from the wild. While there are cases where people have taken in orphaned skunks, most skunk owners obtain domestic skunks, bred at a breeding farm that have had no exposure to rabies. Skunk organizations have tried for years to educate the public and alleviate fears regarding rabies and domestic skunks. Just goes to show you that although we’ve come very far in educating the public, we still have so very far to go!

  6. Charles Fletcher
    March 31, 2014

    I am 92 years old. 65 year ago I ought a baby skunk.. I deodorized it myself.IT WAS A FEMALE AND HER NAME WAS WHITEY. SHE STAYED WITH ME FOR ABOUT A YEAR AND THEN WENT MISSING. THE NEXT TIME I SAW HER SHE HAS BABIES OF HER OWN. I DIDN;T BOTHER HER AND THE BABIES AND SHE WENT BACK TO THE WILD STAGE. I HAVE A PHOTO OF HER WITH ME IF ANYONE WOULD LIKE TO HAVES COPY.
    Charles Fletcher
    ccfletch9@yahoo.com

  7. Fred
    March 31, 2014

    Skunks are in fact not that unlike ferrets in the care and feeding department. Their diets are quite similar and they’ll live happily on a quality cat food. As far as vaccinations, they receive the same canine distemper vaccine as a ferret would. The vaccine is not hard on them as was previously mentioned, the problem is that a large number have allergic reactions to the vaccine, as do ferrets. My ferrets get a 5 day treatment of children’s benedryl every year before their shots and they’re just fine. The would receive the same rabies vaccine as a ferret would also.

  8. Kay
    March 31, 2014

    The on;y skink I had at about 13 was sold as a 6 mo. fe but turned out to be over a year and a male-had not been “socialized”. I did not keep him. Besides, I had not done any research on them.
    TO BOB–skunks do not eat chickens, They are basically insectivourous! Please do your research before you bad-mouth ANY animal!

  9. Andy
    March 30, 2014

    If only we had skunks in Cambodia, or even in Aussie, where I come from. The most exotic ‘pet’ in Camb is a frog.But they eat them as soon as they are fat enough! Skunks look so smart & cool! Lucky best buddies/owners!

  10. harold
    March 30, 2014

    I caught a young wild baby skunk many years ago and at first we kept it in the house and for about a month fed it cow milk from a bottle. After about a month or so it had trouble walking. So we kept it under the porch feeding it milk and meat and greens etc and within a few days it got healthy again. My question to those who have had a skunk for a number of years, does the skunk always live indoors? What do they eat and do they need humidity (like the humidity found near or in the earth)?

  11. Harold
    March 30, 2014

    I caught a young wild baby skunk many years ago and kept it in the house
    the yard for a few years. At first we kept it in the house and after a month house for about a month feeding it cow milk from a bottle.After about a month or so it had trouble walking. So we kept it under the porch feedingit milk and meat etc and within a few days it got healthy again. MY question to those who have had a skunk for a number of years, does the skunk always live indoors? What do they eat and do they need humidity?

  12. Cyndi R
    March 30, 2014

    I have cats, but I have witnessed skunks outside my home in their own environment. I’ve seen cats and skunks stroll past each other in the yard. A few years ago my black and white tuxedo cat was visiting with a young skunk under our deck; I was worried, but it was just like the Peppy LaPew cartoons. Love at first sight! No aggression, just nose to nose visiting. Last summer I was badly stung by a ground nest of yellowjackets, resulting in a celulitis infection in both legs. A few days later, I saw that the nest had been excavated and not a wasp remained. A couple of nights later, while out in the yard I found my hero; a skunk had dug up and eaten the nest. I left it a pile of cat kibble as a Thank You. I may not share my home with these animals, but I’m happy to share my yard with them.

  13. ray smallwood
    March 30, 2014

    I had a friend who had a pet skunk years ago. His name was Thumper as he would thump his leg when excited. He was awesome! I would love to have one myself.

  14. Kathleen
    March 30, 2014

    I love skunks but have never owned one. I can watch them, and do out of my window at night, for a long time. BUT..recently in the news was a report of a horse that contracted rabies from a skunk bite in California. I live in Colorado. Are DVMs willing to give preventive rabies shots to skunks and how are skunks with getting poked like that. I vaccinate all of my animals myself from cats to horses, but DVMs legally have to give the rabies vacs. Comments?

  15. Sid
    March 30, 2014

    About forty years ago a young couple used to walk their pet skunk by the house on a leash. So of course we had to go out to talk to them and pet the skunk. Softest silky smooth fur ever. They said the only problem with a skunk is that they are so curious and want to check out everything. Then years later I came home from work about two in the morning. I guess I must have a sixth sense or something because something didn’t seem right. I crept in and reached around and turned on the kitchen light and there was a skunk eating from the dog dish. It looked up at me as if to say “darn, where did you come from? I almost got away with it.” It just rurned and walked back the way it came in, which was through the patio door the kids had left open. But it didn’t go out. It hid behind a sofa, probably thinking I would go away and it could go finish the dog food. I got my wife up and we slowly tipped the sofa up and it decided lunch was over and just turned and walked out. We live right by a river and there were skunks, deer and racoons around. Had five deer on the front porch eating from boxes of apples one late night. Then one day the kids fished a baby skunk out of the river. They said a dog had killed it’s mother. When I first saw it it was on the kitchen table wrapped in a towel. Since we would have had to get permission to keep it and pay a fee plus pay to have it descented, and we already had cats and dogs. we took it to our small local zoo. They were glad to have it but reported that the cold water must have been too much for it and it died a couple of days later. But I would rather have had the skunk than what the wife wanted, but never got, an ocelot.

  16. Joseph Bowker
    March 30, 2014

    I have had up to 5 Ferrets, now 3. A male and two females. Skunks are no longer considered part of the Weasel, Ferret Family. But what I know of them, they are really weasels. They are darling animals, beautiful, and really companions with humans.

  17. Mary VanSlooten
    March 30, 2014

    My dad had a pet skunk; I never did learn what that was like for him. He also had a pet crow: it’s name was Joe.

  18. Bruce Jackson
    March 30, 2014

    There is this valley in between Camarillo and Moorpark, California which the Santa Rosa road runs through. This valley has all sorts of wild critters living in it like Coyotes, Lynx, Gophers, Opossums and Skunks. Unfortunately a lot of them wind up as roadkill due to the high volume of traffic. I saw a dead skunk on the median last week that ran into a car and got it’s head crushed; am going to call animal control on Monday as they do stink to high heaven when they are run over. I’d just love to see one alive.

  19. Harry
    March 30, 2014

    Very interesting article about skunks.
    I remember back around 1967 there was a pet shop in the mall that had skunks for sale. I never knew they were that smart.

  20. Corolyn
    March 30, 2014

    I think skunks are wonderful. Have always loved them and have had several encounters with them coming to my yard. Each time I shooed them away so that my cats would not get into an encounter with them. They are not aggressive to me. They just look at me and then walk away. Same with other wild animals that some to my yard here in the rural neighborhood in which I live in Arlington, Tn. I would have a skunk for a pet if the opportunity came to me but would not seek them out. My cats are my best friends and I love them dearly. I am sure that a skunk would love me as much.

  21. McLaren Burgoyne
    March 30, 2014

    My father’s family had large greenhouses for growing cut flowers for the large florists in Kansas City. They had skunks that lived and played with them and roamed the greenhouses eating all manner of flowering destroying creatures – with snails being one of their favorites meals – he said they were such fun, loved to play and cuddle and helped immensely in running their business.

  22. janaj
    March 30, 2014

    I had a descented (captively bred) scunk whom we named “Porgi Ankle-biter,” because he noshed and nipped at my ankles all the time when I was prepping for work. His nearsited day time vision seemed to be the reason because he did not do that so much at night. It was like a gentle nibble, sort of fun. He was a total delight, playing with my cat and dog. He squeeked like a squeeky toy and the other animals would roll and play with him. They all loved it and no one was overly playful so no one was hurt. Porgi bounced on his front feet and hoisted his (unloaded) tail at the funniest moments. He was litterbox trained (with pinning plastic up the wall in a corner since he preferred “vertical drop” over a squat) and was simple and easy to care for, especially in the apartment setting. He walked to the park on his leash to play and always attracted people with his beautiful snow white and rainbow shining black coat. He shared the dog and cat’s food with them as they did with him. He was friendly and affectionate with everyone. I’d love to have another little Porgi – He was the delight of our family. But, word of caution if you are considering a pet scunk: they are fearless and do not know they have no defense. Porgi tried to declare his property with the wrong element and lost. So, if you do get a pet, be sure to care, super care for them knowing they innately have no options for taking care of themselves in a danger.

  23. Rick Jolson
    March 30, 2014

    Many years ago when my wife and I were first married we had a pet skunk… “Sneakers” as she was black and white and smelled! Actually she did not really smell bad, kind of a pleasant woodize aroma. She was a great pet and very affectionate. I’d say here temperament was between that of a cat and a dog; not as stand off as a cat note as subservient as a dog. Unfortunately 40 years ago it was hard to find a vet who knew how to deal with skunks, even though our vet assisted at the National Zoo in Washington DC. She developed problems with the development of her ovaries and died at about one year. We were naturally very upset as she died in my wife’s arms in our vet’s waiting room. They are truly unique and wonderful house guests.

  24. Betty
    March 30, 2014

    When I was 7 my uncle gave me a baby skunk, Stinky. His mother had been run over by a car and he was too young to be on his own. He was a wonderful pet. However, we did not neuter him and when he reach a year old he was very aggressive so we had to let me go.
    We put him back into the woods near our farm house. Two years later I ran into Stinky in the wild and he was doing great. I was so glad he survived.

  25. Phil Gokey
    March 30, 2014

    I’m an old feller! 83! I’ve raised skunks both descented and untouched. No problems with either one, and they were wonderful animals. The untouched skunk was rescued from the highway, and I raised it to adulthood and released. I had two dogs who got to know the skunk, and the skunk got to know them, but never sprayed. When a dog approached, his tail would go up and he thumped his front feet. When he realized it was not an attack, he relaxed and the skunk and dog touched noses. I’ve had many more experiences with skunks and they are beautiful creatures!

  26. George
    March 30, 2014

    A friend rescued 6 baby skunks after their mother was killed by an auto. They were weaned, or at least ready to be weaned. I helped to feed & water them I occasionally and they became very friendly. When winter came they dug a den in the floor of the dirt floor of the shed where he kept them and hibernated until spring. They were then free to go but two came back with their litters that summer, and were as friendly a when they were kits. The only danger with wild skunks is that they can contract rabies. If you see a wild skunk acting very strange and even aggressive, beware. Do not let it get near you, do not touch it. Call animal control.

  27. Kathleen Troutman
    March 30, 2014

    Terrific article and photos. I love animals, period. Responsible owners, like these, know that an animal in your life adds more depth and love than not having one. By the way, I’ve always had animals, including cats . They have always been wildly affectionate (won’t eat until they get their lovin”) and are plenty smart. Let’s not make any animal better than another. Like us, they are all unique and all the more lovable for that.

  28. sue milan
    March 30, 2014

    what do you feed your pet skunk? do they have skunk food? do they keep you home free from bugs? thanks. very interesting.

  29. Lea’ Anderson
    March 30, 2014

    Wild and exotics cannot get a rabies shot labeled for them exclusively like dogs and cats. All sorts of legislation came with activists who ban ownership. Please don’t argue unless you can change the laws and don’t bite the messenger. Ownership is against the law unless you are a licensed caregiver to animals in distress and those returned to the wild are usually spayed/neutered also in your care. You are not allowed to breed them.

  30. Shelley
    March 30, 2014

    They are so cute! I love cats more than anything in the entire world. Makes me heart go pitter patter when I see one. But, I’m allergic so I can’t have one. (God playing tricks on me). I wonder if I could have a skunk? Are the allergens the same? I’m allergic to dogs too. Does anyone know about this?

  31. BARBARA NECKER
    March 30, 2014

    I had some friends who lived next to the woods at the end of a small housing development. They fed their cats in the breezeway between the house & the garage. The neighborhood skunks came into the breezeway to share the meals with the felines & I don’t believe I ever detected any odor of frightened skunk.

  32. Courtney
    March 30, 2014

    Just a comment to you and the editor, as someone who owns and works with exotic reptiles there are no ‘poisonous reptiles’ or ‘extremely poisonous snakes.’ They are venomous. Poison is taken, Venom is injected.

    • Janna Dotschkal
      March 30, 2014

      Thank you. We will correct this mistake and update the article.

  33. Robert Zimmer
    March 30, 2014

    My friend in Yorkshire, NY had a pet skunk in 1953. It was a beautiful animal that I still remember.

  34. Jan
    March 30, 2014

    Wow! I had no idea that a skunk world existed. I think this is great. I am very curious now and will read more about domesticated skunks. I had no idea there are skunk breeders. I am pleased to hear they are so affectionate and smart. I am not at all surprised by that. I learned a lot just reading the comments. I will have to find the article and read it. Thanks.

  35. glenn & lin leidy
    March 30, 2014

    We enjoyed our little b&w skunk (Rosie) for 8 yrs. Attended Skunk-Fest once – truly a wonderful experience!! Our Rosie passed summer 2013. We miss her terribly. What an angel and loved by her family (us) !!

  36. carol
    March 30, 2014

    My parents got me a skunk when I was a kid and wanted a raccoon. The skunk used a litter box. Got the raccoon later, as an adult. Both made good pets, but you do have to make accomodations a

  37. Dave Armbrust
    March 30, 2014

    In 1952 a game warden brought 2 skunks and a raccoon to a neighbor to take care of for the Summer. Since my folks had room for a pen we became involved in their care. They became Rosebud & Petunia to the neighbor kids. We called the raccoon Mickey. The skunks loved to ride in the basket on my bike. In the Fall they were reclaimed and we were assured they had a good home in a children’s petting zoo in the Peoria, IL. area. It was a sad day in the neighborhood and I remember it like yesterday. That was 61 years ago………

  38. MaxAnimal
    March 30, 2014

    Wow! Great info on skunks! We here at Max Animal love skunks too. Check out maxanimal.com for more!

  39. Ingrid Morton
    March 30, 2014

    What states allow pet skunks?

  40. BOB
    March 30, 2014

    NICE JOB CIRCUS BOY! NOTHING AGAINST SKUNKS UNTIL THEY BITE YOU AND RISK YOU OF RABIES! LIVE AND LET LIVE I AGREE BUT WHEN THEY’RE EATING ALL THE PHEASENT EGGS AND CHICKENS ? I’LL DETURE THEM ANYWAY I NEED TO. WHO KNOWS..MAYBE YOU COULD USE ANOTHER CARNY FAMILY ACT ? WITH WHITE HOSPITAL WRIST BANDS ? I’LL TAKE A RACOON OR TURTULE ANYDAY THANKS.

  41. Tina Rhodes
    March 30, 2014

    I grew up with skunks as pets. They are not long lived but are the best pet ever for children and adults.

  42. Steven Warner
    March 30, 2014

    We lived on a farm in very rural southern Iowa. The vast and somewhat wild space was my playground. When I was 12, I remember seeing 4 bobbing fluffs bouncing through the grass in a meadow not far from the house. Upon inspection, it was a mother skunk and her babies. She was teaching them to forage. Every so often she would hide the babies and go off on her own. I started visiting them and playing with them. To this day I have never seen anything more delightful nor cuter. Every so often one or more of them would think they needed defense and tap tap tap their paws on the ground and lift their back ends; Eventually they actually produced some spray which smelled like crushed wild onion…not at all bad. It was a wonderful encounter. A great experience. I suppose I should have been concerned for rabies around wild animals, but I wasn’t. These creatures were so engaged with their environment, including me, and their fearlessness makes me smile to this day.

  43. EdNope
    March 30, 2014

    I’ve always been curious about skunk ownership and having one as a pet. They seem to have such unique personalities. I didn’t realize so many people had skunks in their homes – it may be time for me to get one.
    Great story, great photos.

  44. Abdul Rashid Hafiz
    March 30, 2014

    I love & respect people who establish friendly relationship with wild life to and try to save animals.

  45. Ken& Marie
    March 30, 2014

    Driving a small baby 3-4″ was exploring at the side of the road not paying any attention to us right beside him.Picking him up and petting him he suddenly realized we were not his mommy and gave us a micro shot,We returned him and no sign of mother.We have always enjoyed the skunks and seldom do they spray even when releasing from their accidently captivity in a live trap.Georgous animal given by GOD.This email continues from the last that would not allow me to continue!

  46. Ken & Marie
    March 30, 2014

    We have had numerous contacts in Ontario with the skunks both brown & white and black & white.The last when

  47. Bev
    March 30, 2014

    We had a couple of orphaned skunks that my husband live trapped and took to the local wildlife rehabber. I was terrified of getting sprayed but she just reached in the trap and pulled the little guy out. When I got a closer look, it was adorable. No wonder you guys love skunks. If only my dogs would stop messing with them and getting sprayed, the skunks could chase off some of the ground squirrels that are eating up my garden. The horses are smart enough to leave them alone. There was one baby sleeping right in the horses paddock door and she just stepped over it as she went in and out.

  48. Ken
    March 30, 2014

    There is a skunk that has his territory around my farm house. He goes about his business in a calm businesslike way not afraid of the

    coming and going of me or my cat. He is a sort of pet, one that shares a part of our world but independant.

  49. Kathleen
    March 30, 2014

    There has been an active overpopulation of skunks in the NW suburb of Chicago where I live and it made me begin to despise these animals. The scent of skunk permeates the air in the spring and summer months; our dog got “skunked” twice…and my patience was waning. But I’ve always thought they were beautiful animals. So I’ve learned to coexist: we rap loudly on our back door in darkness & turn on an outdoor light when letting the dog out late at night; skunks congregate in a large bush outside our front door; often when I see them there I simply go back in and exit out the back. Do they overwinter well? With this past winter being so hard in the Midwest I’ve been wondering this.

  50. Flo
    March 30, 2014

    No one has mentioned the fact that skunks are susceptible to both canine and feline distemper. Also, the vaccines are very hard on them, according to my vet years ago when I acquired a descented baby female. So I decided not to have her vaccinated. She was kept inside, except for a few times when, on a leash, I had her out in my back yard. She was indeed funny, playful and affectionate. But she contracted distemper and died. Never again will I have a skunk as I can’t keep one free from contacting distemper.

  51. Mikeb
    March 30, 2014

    We love skinks and have a store mascot in out pet store named Ernie who was from a fur farm rescue. We send out each skunk with a florida permit questionnaire, inspection, and skunkhaven.net package! Thankfully
    Most people that purchase them do ALoT of research before commiting.

  52. Peter Wolfe
    March 30, 2014

    My wife Suzi and I love our wonderful skunks, now down to two. But skunks are not for most pet owners. They take great care and unfortunately are thought to be similar to cats in care. Not so….these beautiful creatures need lots of one on one, special diets and very special care. So if you may be thinking of a fur baby for a pet be sure to speak with a pro first.

  53. Sue
    March 30, 2014

    I remember seeing a pet skunk when I was a child years ago. I was amazed at the uniqueness of it and the friendly personality. Its quirky ways were captivating too. That experience had stuck in my mind all these many years and I have often thought of owning one myself….but I am realistic, and will just have to settle for my cats. :-)

  54. Terri Grace
    March 29, 2014

    In the late 70′s I was given a skunk by this super nice person who drove a tractor trailer it was the most amazing animal ever super sweet was trained to use a litter box, the man had it descented so it couldnt spray cause it was an inside animal. I was heartbroken when it was accidentally left out and lost. It loved my mom snd most nights would sneak into her room and sleep on her chest.

  55. Emma
    March 29, 2014

    This article barely even mentioned how hard it is to care for skunks. They require a time and money intensive diet, they cannot be caged, and they can be very destructive to the home. Please dont impulsively buy skunks just because you see these beautiful photos. They are not easy like cats.

  56. Emma
    March 29, 2014

    As an owner of 2 ADOPTED pet skunks, i cannot emphasize enough what a high maintenance pet they are. I adopted them, as they were rescued from irresponsible, impulsive people who got them in order to have a “cool” pet. One of my skunks is psychologically scarred from the neglect and mistreatment of her first owner. Please dont buy these animals, they are far too much work for the average pet owner. I am a pre-veterinary student who has worked in vets offices for over 9 year. I do not recommend people have these animals. I hate when articles like this come out because im sure from seeing this, dozens of people will go out and buy pet skunks and then give them improper care. They have very expensive, time intensive dietary needs and CANNOT BE CAGED. Please dont make a skunk suffer for your ego

  57. marie howell
    March 29, 2014

    thank you i have some awesome photos if you are interested of the wildlife at our florida rescue

  58. marie howell
    March 29, 2014

    We saved a beautiful albino skunk he was over 30 lbs now down to 12 lbs..
    he is a Blessing in our Life..

  59. Kate
    March 29, 2014

    Just a heads up. Snakes are only ever “venomous”, there is no such thing as a poisonous snake.

  60. MakahaGirl
    March 28, 2014

    I read a story when I was around 7 about a girl who had a skunk as a pet. The seed was planted! A highlight of my adult life was getting the opportunity to pet and hold a female skunk. Regrettably I have never lived in one of the legal states. Skunkfest may be on the agenda next year!

  61. tanya
    March 26, 2014

    I have 2 skunks . 1 is descented and 1 isn’t,I luv them with all my heart and too could not imagine ever not having one. I have never had any problems with,the one that isn’t either.

  62. jacque Hanes
    March 26, 2014

    My husband and I are pictured above with Flower and Suzy-Q. Really are awesome pets Flower our first was given to us,

  63. Katlin Donnelly
    March 26, 2014

    My skunks (Archie, wild born, b&w, 5y.o., Flowers, domestic born, “Siamese”, 6y.o. and Lola, wild born, b&w, 10mo.) are the best pets I have ever owned. People ask me if they are more like a cat or more like a dog? I answer, “they act like a skunk!” They are funny, animated, loyal, smart, loving and all around fabulous! They are not for everyone, however. You have to be patient, determined and dedicated. I will NEVER be without one!

  64. carlos rodriques
    March 26, 2014

    Having had several wild skunks we raised over the years I agree they are wonderful animals. Not at all like the popular image, very clean and un-stinky. They are a weasel afterall and really do a tremendous job in the wild of eating bugs, mice, and such.
    I’ve never had a captive-raised one but think it would be the best pet as the skunk knows no other life than with humans. Wonderful photos of special people and their companions.

  65. Ann Bess
    March 26, 2014

    Undoubtedly the most unique animal I ever owned. She lived almost nine years and I got her from a pet store, I think she was removed from her litter to soon because she was so so tiny. We were together 24/7 for the first two weeks we lived together so the bond was strong. I always thought she thought I was a larger hairless version of herself. I agree, skunks are not for everyone. I would advise against owning one simply because you pretty much have to adapt to them, not them to you. They require your undivided loyalty and devotion. Mine did NOT and would not share our home with another animal. She would stalk any other animal and bite the blood out of it. It was her house and only I was welcome. I do not know if this is a trait with all skunks, but it sure was with her. She was extremely playful and we would chase each other around the house. I would chase her, she would whirl, stamp her feet, raise her tail, stalk me with her head and her behind facing me, I would run from her, then turn and chase her. I have never had another relationship with an animal like that. Really you could call it spiritual, we just connected with each other in such an awesome way.

  66. Sabine
    March 26, 2014

    Skunks are so so cute! I totally see the appeal they have to their various owners.

  67. Jane Hendricks
    March 26, 2014

    I’ve had skunks for 15+ yrs. Not the same ones. Their life expectancy is 8-10 yrs. Some die sooner; others live longer. Mine use a litter box, come when they’re called and are the best pet for my lifestyle. They also should be fixed as this improves their pet temperament. Love my skunks!

  68. Robin Schienle
    March 26, 2014

    To answer the question posted – The pet Skunks are desented so they do not spray in your home !

  69. Rory smith
    March 26, 2014

    Some are descented by removing the glands that produces the smell.

  70. Kim
    March 26, 2014

    Skunks are awesome, I just wish the article painted a more complete picture of the issue-such as you have to de-scent/de-gland them (never heard of one kept in captivity that wasn’t for obvious reasons)-which takes away their natural ability to defend themselves when they are frightened. They turn around and lift their tail- and nothing happens.

  71. Dgenny
    March 26, 2014

    @Said Bakr. They make a small surgery removing odor producing gland.

  72. lynda anderson
    March 26, 2014

    I never would of known there were so many people with skunks as pets. What do they eat? Can they be trained?

  73. Marilyn McKenzie-Kelton
    March 26, 2014

    Wonderful photos! I’ve rescued wild orphaned, infant Skunks, for 6years. Not for everyone! First year of skunk’s life is busy, 24/7 care! Nothing like raising kitten & puppies! Keeping Skunks as pets is illegal in all but 4 U.S. states,

  74. Alex
    March 25, 2014

    Good question Bakr, it is a common misconception that a skunk will spray at anyone and everything. It is their strongest form of defence and they will only use it if they are frightened badly or extremely stressed. Being in a loving and caring home where they are safe and loved makes it a very rare occurance for them to spray. It is more likely to happen when they are just kits, getting used to the world and their surroundings. I am currently led in bed with one skunk cuddled into my side and one across my legs and I have to say I they are the most affectionate pets I have ever owned, they are such special and adorable animals.. I haven’t been sprayed yet in 5 years of ownership but don’t think I would mind if it happened everyday :)

  75. Addison
    March 25, 2014

    I really respect and adore those who were able to establish friendly and harmonious relationship with wild animals.

  76. Cathy Dalgleish
    March 25, 2014

    Pet skunks are not sold with scent glands. The breeder removes the scent glands at a very early age.

  77. Deb Cipriani
    March 25, 2014

    The captive born skunks are descented before they are sold. These ones at the Skunk Fest are bred by breeders. They make wonderful pets for the right people. I love all my skunks. If you want to learn more go to http://www.skunkhaven.net
    Thank You for the good write up on our skunks.

  78. Kay
    March 25, 2014

    These are not wild skunks! These are bred and domesticated. Their scent gland is removed by the breeder when only a few days old, so they do not have the ability to spray inside your home. On a side note, every state has different laws on ownership of these beautiful creatures. Please check your state laws to see if it’s even legal to own one. Even though they can be loving, some go through what I call the terrible two stage and may need more understanding owners to be able to live with. Sometimes an owner even has to make modifications inside their home to accommodate their furry friend. Also be aware if you are a renter, it is difficult to find a landlord to allow a skunk as your roommate. Please do lots of research before making a decision to own any animal.

  79. Said Bakr
    March 25, 2014

    I wonder, I know that animal produces bad odour as a method of defense, So how could someone be able to host it in a house?

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