Striped Skunk Care Guide
The Species: Striped Skunks (Mephitis mephitis) is a more unusual pet within the UK but can be more common in America, these animals can often tamed to make great pets, often compared to dogs. It is important to tame Skunks at a young age as they can often nip and have a painful bite when younger but can also become aggressive as adults if not tamed when younger. Adult Skunks can have a much worse bite and can even leave scars. It is common practice in America to remove their scent glands which prevents them from spraying, however this is illegal in the UK as it is seen as an uncessisary cosmetic surgery. Skunks are solitary animals for the most part however females can be housed together as long as they are provided with a large enough enclosure..
Enclosure: Skunks are large animals and extremely active meaning they need large enough enclosures. These animals can be housed inside or outdoors, for a single adult a decent enclosure would be 3x1.5x2.5m. Enclosures should be made of wood or metal, materials which are strong and resilient as they are strong animals who sometimes try and escape. Skunks should be fully cleaned out every 1-2 weeks including changing their bedding, and spot cleaning daily.
For indoor enclosures it is important to provide a substrate layer across the base of the enclosure which makes it easier to clean out, we would recommend either Back-2-Nature small animal bedding or wood shavings however other alternatives are also acceptable. It is also important to provide them with a litter tray to make cleaning out much easier. Skunks love soft beds so it's key to offer a bed to them filled with blankets and other soft materials.
For outdoor enclosures, need dens to retreat to and it is also important to provide substrate inside the dens to make sure that cleaning it easier to clean we would recommend the same substrates for the den as we would for indoor enclosures. With outdoor enclosures we suggest that it is also a good idea to add topsoil to the base of the enclosure to provide natural enrichment of digging. It is important to offer a bed to them filled with blankets and other soft materials inside their dens.
Skunks naturally live in habitats including woodlands and forests. It is important to make their enclosure as natural as possible to allow them to exhibit natural behaviours. It is important to offer lots of enrichment, decor and apparatus to explore, hides, hammocks, tubes and more are very good to use. Skunks are incredibly intelligent and need a lot of stimulus to occupy themselves throughout the day which means they need different forms of enrichment, puzzles, treat finders, toys and many more are extremely important to give your Skunks, the more full the enclosure is of enrichment, the better it is for your Skunks. Skunks should also have lots of exercise outside of their enclosure by either placing them in runs or taking them on walks on a lead and harness.
Heating: Skunks are native to America so can happily live in most temperatures within your home or in outdoor enclosures. This means that they don't usually require additional heat sources however they do still have a temperature range that should be monitored to make sure they stays safe. Ferrets require a temperature range of 10-27 degrees celcius (50-80 degrees farenheight) but with maxiumum temperatures of 29-32 degrees celcius (85-90 degrees farenheight). If temperatures drop too low, adding a heat pad and if they raise too high, we would suggest taking them swimming.
Lighting: Skunks do not need additional lighting however if being housed indoors this can be provided if you feel your Skunks don't receive enough light throughout the day you can add additional lighting to an enclosure. UVB lighting is acceptable as long as the bulb provided does not raise over 12%, LED lighting is also a suitable alternative but with all lighting it is important to have them on for no longer than 12 hours a day to provide a natural day/night sequence. If any additional lighting is added to an enclosure, make sure that they have lots of places to escape the light in different hides and that the lighting is a safe distance from the cage to prevent them burning themselves. If being housed outdoors they don't need any additional lighting.
Humidity: Coming from woodlands they still have a humidity range that they are comfortable with. For Skunks they need a humidity range of 30-40%.
Diet: Skunks are omnivores and scavengers/predators by nature, this means they eat a variety of protein and vegetation. Similar to Ferrets, Skunks need high levels of taurine and can have dried or raw diets. For a dry food diet, you can provide them with Ferret biscuit with no grain dog biscuit of which there are many options. Raw diets are also a good option as they are a much more natural diet to provide them with, these are often sold frozen and should be thawed out fully before feeding, recommended raw diets are poultry hearts, poultry liver, raw chicks and many more. It is important to provide an assortment of vegetation as well for your Skunks, fruit and veg is very important, along with a mix of salads, nuts in very small amounts can have good levels of protein as well. On top of the vegetation and meat, you can also give Skunks raw eggs and insects as these would all be a part of their natural diet.
Foods to avoid would be cat food, grapes, bird seed, onions...