The first year mortality rate is high with pet skunks, and I dread hearing about the kits that don’t make it. This morning I opened my email to discover a sad letter from someone I know, letting me know she lost her skunk kit sometime the night before. This owner has experience with skunks, other captive wildlife, and domestic pets and she is known to take excellent care of them. I called to find out the details of what happened and she has allowed me to share them in the hope of preventing another death.
The owner got her baby at approximately 6 weeks old and has had him for about 5 weeks. He was slightly larger than the palm of a large hand and he weighed about 2 lbs. She recently purchased a new refrigerator that has a bottom mount freezer. The owner was unaware that this particular model has a gap on both sides when you open the bottom drawer of the freezer or she would have chosen a different style. This gap was large enough that a small animal could get inside the freezer on side that was not against the kitchen wall. The owner had company, a family member, staying with her. Sometime during the night, the family member took something out of the freezer, and put it in the refrigerator to defrost. The family member, is not used to captive wildlife, and was not aware that the little baby had climbed inside the freezer while it was open. Because of the slant in the freezer basket, he was able to get behind the basket out of sight.
The next morning, the owner went looking for her baby when he did not show up for breakfast. I can only imagine what it was like to discover his tiny body, frozen in the freezer. She is devastated by his death! Nothing can be done about his loss except hope that this warning may save the life of someone else’s pet.
The refrigerator is shown below, LG model #LMXS27626S/00. This unsafe design may, or may not, be found in other brands of bottom mount refrigerators.