Keeping Wild Baby Skunks as Pets

Why It May Be Illegal and Not a Good Idea

Mr. Skunkie.

Baby skunks are adorable, that's for sure. They are like fluffy little kittens and are typically adventurous, outgoing and may even be orphans. But that doesn't mean we should just take one from our backyard and keep it as a pet.

State Laws

The first reason why keeping a wild baby skunk as a pet is a bad idea is because it is probably illegal to do so where you live. Most states prohibit you from taking an animal from the wild and keeping it captive, and for good reason.

If everyone went out in search of baby skunks and kept the ones they found as pets there wouldn't be wild skunks for very long and then a variety of other environmental issues will arise from the lack of wild skunks.

Some people are licensed to care for, rehabilitate and sometimes even house wild skunks for the rest of the skunk's life but they still aren't pets to these people - they are wild skunks. Licensed rehabilitators have completed the necessary steps to receive and keep their permits and licenses to care for wild animals. They know what skunks need and are able to rehabilitate them and release them into the wild if they are healthy. They know how to avoid imprinting baby skunks and to give them the best chance at survival in the wild. Check with your state division of natural resources to find a skunk rehabilitator near you and check your state laws to see if it is legal to own a wild skunk where you live (usually you have to show proof of purchase from someone with a wildlife propagation permit in order to obtain a permit for yourself if it is legal to own a pet skunk at all).

Rabies Concerns

Skunks are rabies vector species which means they can have, get, or contract rabies to humans (rabies is a zoonotic disease). Rabies is still a very real problem and depending on where you live, is often reported in wild skunks (see the CDC map of Rabid Skunks reported).

All it takes is one little bite from an adult or baby skunk to contract the deadly virus.

You'll regret ever bringing the animal into your house especially since only a handful of unvaccinated people have ever survived rabies.

Veterinary Issues

It is hard to find a vet that will treat exotic or non-traditional species. It is very difficult to find a vet that knows how to treat pet skunks. And it is nearly impossible to find a vet that is willing to work on an illegally owned, rabies vector species, wild skunk. So even if you decide to keep your new little white striped friend as a pet, you will be hard pressed to find a vet that will descent it for you (there are only a couple in the entire country and they require proof of permits).

Even if you decide to keep your skunk and all their lovely spraying parts, don't want to spay or neuter it, and don't believe in taking pets in for regular check-ups, what are you going to do when your now beloved, full-grown, intact and ready to spray "pet" skunk needs medical attention? Who is going to treat him? Do you just watch your pet get sicker and sicker?

What If the Baby Skunk is a Known Orphan?

So you found the mother dead or saw it get run over by a car and now you think you are the only chance this skunk has to survive. The thought of just letting nature take its course is tough and most people will naturally try to intercede.

That's okay! But get that skunk to someone who knows how to care for a baby wild skunk, is rabies vaccinated, and can give the skunk the best chance for reintroduction into the wild when it is old enough. Call your local nature center, wildlife center, the state division of natural resource or fish and wildlife, or even your local vet to see if they have resources for you to take the skunk somewhere.

If you really want a pet skunk to check out local breeders and rescues near you for a legal option. They'll be just as cute!