Are skunks good as pets? There is a lot of controversy about this subject that ranges from health care to safety. There are several things to consider before deciding to have one as a pet. Deciding what a pet is and isn't depends on personal feelings. Hopefully this can give more perspective to this issue.
First, remember that skunks are wild animals that have not had the generations of domestication that dogs, cats, horses, and other pets have. Because of this they retain much more of their natural instincts and will respond in kind to the actions that are presented to them. As with most wild animals they will rely on instinct for their survival. They are fun to play with, adorable, and unique and because of this it is so easy to forget about what they were born to be.
Second, most states do not allow skunks as pets unless they are farm raised and even then some don't allow them. This means that one taken from the wild could be forfeit if it was found or caused any injury to a person. This means that it would lose its life simply because it was kept as a pet. Is that a risk that someone would want to take simply to have one as a pet? Is its life so replaceable?
The health concerns about and for skunks are somewhat limited simply because they are not a common pet and what is learned is mostly from encounters and research on wild skunks. Wild skunks are not recommended to be vaccinated because of their immune systems. The vaccines that are used on dogs, cats, and ferrets may be used on skunks but they may not work and can actually cause them to develop the disease. If vaccinated for rabies their bodies can and do react to the vaccine and can cause them to contract rabies. This is also possible with other vaccines that would be used. If they do become infected with the rabies virus, they can carry the disease for several months before they show symptoms and during that time expose not only the owner but other pets and visitors and almost without fail, death will be the outcome for them.
Another health concern is their getting the correct diet. Too many people think that they should be able to eat whatever they eat like junk food and table scraps. Unfortunately this is not true. By feeding them anything and everything, owners are causing more problems than they think. Obesity is one of the biggest problems that are seen by veterinarians who do see skunks. This causes problems with their joints, internal organs and skin, simply because this is not the diet that their bodies were born to eat. The extra weight can cause ligament damage and back injuries from them trying to move normally with the weight. It also causes the organs to work harder to function as they should. An inappropriate diet can also cause skin problems like itching, infections, dull coat, lack of essential fatty oils and so on. If they are going to be kept as pets then giving them the correct diet is extremely important. They should have a variety of foods that includes things like insects, vegetables, and fruits. They can also have some dried dog food and cat food.
Now that some of those issues have been addressed let me point out that I do love skunks. I have had various encounters with them as an animal control officer and as a veterinary technician. I have had the opportunity to spend time with them as pets and have completely enjoyed the time that I was allowed to be with them. They are curious, fun to play with, full of energy, pirates and can be very caring and cuddly. Probably the most important thing that I have learned about them is that as much as I enjoy being with them and watching all that they can do I wouldn't want to take away the freedom that is theirs by birth. Even with the inherit dangers of being wild, to not allow that, I feel is disrespectful of what they are. Even farm raised skunks came from the wild and although they have never known what it is like to go and do whatever they choose, it is where they came from.