I am an owner of a boy and girl skunk, both brown and white, and about 8 years old now. Their names are Gizmo and Molly. I was a very naive new skunk owner 8 years ago when I bought one from a pet store and adopted another as a friend. Both skunks were about 3 months old when I got them and full of that cute but really annoying baby skunk energy. They were completely nuts and I actually thought about getting rid of them as I felt completely overwhelmed everyday. Then I decided I would not be one of those people that gives up on family just because it got hard. My pets have always been family to me.
I had stumbled upon another skunk owner website that looked like it had all the information I needed to raise a perfectly healthy skunk, but I was very wrong, especially when it came to diet. This particular site a encouraged a mainly vegetarian diet ( peas, carrots, other assorted veggies, berries, nuts, and CHEERIOS….yes.. CHEERIOS). My skunks were always remarkable lazy after reaching about 8 months old, I had heard this was normal so was never too worried about it. They would come out for meals and the occasional lap around the house, but that was it.
They did occasionally play together and had very big personalities, but just mostly just slept all the time. When Molly turned 6 her health took a sudden turn. She began missing meals, coughing, and had trouble walking normally. I took her to the vet and she was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. I was told she had about 6 months to live. I stumbled upon Just Skunks website in a frantic search for answers on how this happened. I reached out to a few members and learned how terribly I had been feeding them. That was the main reason her heart condition developed…poor diet with no where near enough protein. I was absolutely crushed and felt like I had basically killed the fluffy, bouncy little Molly that I loved so much.
I immediately got her on regular heart medication and radically changed both of their diets, which they were not very excited about. I switched to each meal having mostly STOMP skunk food or dried meal worms as their main meal and sources of protein, with just a few berries/lima beans/almonds etc..scattered here and there as a treat. They definitely resisted the new diet and walked away from a few bowls, but I refused to give in and hand them the sugar snap peas they so desired.
They gave in and learned to love their new meals. I noticed after just a few weeks they were much more energetic and overall happier ( I swear skunks totally smile). In about a month, I had the old Molly back, my bouncy little girl who always hopped to every meal. I was happy to see Molly feeling better and her medicines definitely worked perfectly…..but I was also mentally preparing myself to lose her. Six months came and went with little complications, every now and then she would be a little constipated but nothing crazy. Then a year went by and I took her to the vet for a check up. Her condition was totally stable and they were amazed at the fact she had lived a year with such a serious and permanent condition. It has now been a full two years and Molly is still the cuddly, bouncy, and affectionate little girl she always was.
I wanted to share this story because I know how it feels to be completely confused and want to throw in the towel. I remember having so many common skunk owner thoughts and I am so thankful I didn’t listen to my own reasoning. I am so glad I didn’t give up when they were crazy, overwhelming babies and I am so glad I didn’t put Molly down, as so many of my family told me I should. Skunk ownership has been the most rewarding experience and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. As a skunk owner ( mainly a new one) you will screw something up and it’s okay, but don’t give up! Ask for help, there are so many wonderful people at your disposal to help you through this foreign process.