Keeping Wild Baby Skunks as Pets

Girl outside with baby skunks
Baby wild skunks may look cute but they are not good pet options

Danita Delimont / Getty Images

Baby skunks are adorable, that's for sure. But while they may look similar to fluffy, little, black and white kittens it doesn't mean that they'll behave like or are simply striped cats. Wild baby skunks are still wild animals and just because someone brings one into their home doesn't automatically make it safe, tame, or legal, even if it is an orphan.

State Laws on Pet Skunks

The first reason why keeping a wild baby skunk as a pet is a bad idea is that it is most likely illegal to do so where you live. Most states prohibit you from taking an animal from the wild and keeping it as a pet and there are good reasons for this. If everyone went out in search of baby skunks and kept the ones they found, the wild skunk population would eventually be depleted and then a variety of other environmental issues would arise from the lack of wild skunks.

Some people are specially licensed to care for, rehabilitate, and sometimes even house wild skunks for the rest of the skunk's life, but these wild skunks still aren't pets to these people. Licensed rehabilitators have completed the necessary steps to have and continue to have 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 also know how to avoid imprinting baby skunks and to give them the best chance at survival in the wild, something the general public does not typically know how to do. If you find a wild, orphaned or injured baby skunk, check with your state division of natural resources to find a skunk rehabilitator near you.

If you are considering keeping a wild skunk as a pet, be sure to check your state laws to see if it is legal to own one where you live. If your state allows skunks to be kept as pets but requires a permit to do so, you will most likely need to show proof of purchase, such as a receipt, from someone with a wildlife propagation permit who breeds skunks to obtain one.

Skunks and Rabies

Skunks are a rabies vector species which means they can have, get, or contract rabies to humans since rabies is a zoonotic disease. Rabies is still a very real problem and depending on where you live, it is often seen in wild skunks according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

All it takes to contract the deadly virus is one little bite from an adult or baby skunk. You'll regret ever bringing the animal into your house especially since only a handful of unvaccinated people have ever survived having rabies.

Veterinary Care for Wild Skunks

It is hard to find a vet that will treat exotic or non-traditional species to begin with but it is nearly impossible to find a vet that is willing to work on an illegally owned, potentially harboring rabies, 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 or provide medical care when necessary. There are only a couple of veterinarians in the entire country that are willing to provide this type of care and they often require proof of legal ownership or permits. Even if you decide to keep a wild skunk without getting it descented, spayed, or neutered, you must ask yourself what you will do when the skunk needs medical attention. 

What If a Baby Skunk Is an Orphan?

If you know without a doubt that a baby skunk is an orphan (the mother was hit by a car, etc.) it is natural to want to try and help it. The thought of just letting nature take its course is tough and most people will try to intercede. This is, of course, okay but you need to 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. You can do this by calling your local nature center, wildlife center, the state division of natural resources fish and wildlife division, or even your local vet to see if they have resources for you to take the skunk to an appropriate place.