I've been an online writer for over 11 years. I've been interested in raising and caring for exotic pets for quite some time.
What Do Pet Skunks Eat?
So long as you feed your skunk a healthy diet and keep them active, they can live up to 10 years. However, like humans, they are susceptible to becoming obese along with all of the complications associated with having too much body fat. That's why it's important to know what you should and shouldn't give your skunk.
Feeding Pet Skunks
If I was a skunk, I'd write about all of the foods I'd want to eat, but not much about the foods I'd need to eat. Pet skunks have the same problem of overeating, just as we do. Fortunately, the owner is in control of the dietary choices; an overweight skunk risks dying an early death just like an overweight person.
Just like us, a skunk instinctively prefers high-calorie food that contains lots of fat and sugar. This is because, in the wild, you never know where your next meal is coming from, so you have to load up on as many calories as you can. But a pet skunk (much like the modern human) has lower energy requirements, and so it needs a varied diet in order to keep healthy and happy.
Pet skunks will eat just about anything. Since they are still relatively new in the pet world, how to best feed a skunk is still the subject of some debate and probably will be as long as people care about keeping skunks happy and healthy.
It used to be thought that skunks could live on dog or cat food, with the occasional people food table scraps as a treat. Although the skunk will like this "diet," it is far too full of fat and protein for a healthy diet. It would be like raising a child on a diet of only hamburgers, fried chicken, and water. They wouldn't be too healthy for too long.
Skunks need a mix of fruits, vegetable matter, carbohydrates, and protein like we do. And don't be taken in by those begging faces; skunks will eat even when they are full. (Sound like anyone you know?)
A Healthy Skunk Diet
A basic morning meal for your adult skunk can consist of:
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup thawed frozen vegetables (no asparagus!)
- 1 tablespoon cooked chicken or turkey
- 2 teaspoons of cooked rice, oats, or cereal
And their evening meal can be:
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup fresh or cooked veggies
- 2 tablespoons of cooked chicken or turkey
- 1 to 2 teaspoons of nuts, cooked grains, or bread
- 1 teaspoon of yogurt
Kits (baby skunks) less than four months old need to eat four times a day (like puppies do). They only need about 3 tablespoons worth of food per meal. The food can be a combination of a third protein, a third carbohydrate, and a third vegetable. More skunk recipes can be found at Skunk Haven and at Owners Of Pet Skunks (OOPS).
What Not to Feed to a Skunk
These foods are bad for skunks (even though the skunks will eat them anyway!)
- cat food
- asparagus (known to cause seizures)
- processed meats like hot dogs or lunchmeats
- bacon or bacon fat
- fried foods
Are There Any Commercially Available Skunk Foods?
Yes, there are commercial skunk diets available, but they have to be specially ordered directly from the manufacturer. One of the most popular is the Exotic Nutrition Pet Company's Skunk Diet, and they also make skunk nutritional supplements and a canned insect diet for any protein-craving exotic pet. It might be easier for you to make the skunk's meals yourself.
Can I Have a Pet Skunk?
Whether or not you can have a pet skunk depends on your state and its regulations, so be sure to do your research. Since keeping skunks as pets is a relatively new phenomenon, you have to be careful when handling them. First, make sure you get a skunk from a skunk breeder—do not just pull one out of the wilderness. Second, make sure you get them spayed and neutered and de-scented, as this will make it much easier for you to keep one as a pet.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2007 RenaSherwood