HELP SAVE BABY SKUNKS.
STOP TRAPPING AND SHOOTING THEIR MOTHERS!
This little guy was saved from the bottom of a burning brush pile, so I named him Phoenix. 3 weeks old. Phoenix sleeping
What to do with the orphans you just found
If you have found one or more baby skunks and are not sure what to do for them allow me to help. The first thing you need to do for the babies is get them warm. Put them in a secure box with some old t-shirts or towels. Be sure there are no holes in the bedding that the babies can get hung up in. Add a heating pad set on low under the bedding. This is the most important thing you can do for this baby to ensure its' survivability. Even if you keep the box in your garage or the porch and it is a 100 degrees out, that baby needs additional warmth to cuddle into. Do not use a setting above low, and do not place baby directly onto heating pad. There needs to be at lease two layers of bedding between baby and the heating pad. You can also create another cooler layer for the baby to crawl onto should it get too warm by adding another towel or shirt on one side of the box. Other ways of warming orphans if you do not have a heating pad are to use a hot water bottle, or even a plastic bottle with a secured screw on lid filled with hot water, then wrap it in a towel or put it in a tube sock. This method will need reheating frequently however. Filling a sock with uncooked rice then heating in the microwave for two minutes is another method. I do not recommend using light bulbs for warmth. They can be ineffectual in properly warming the baby. They need to be able to snuggle into the warmth, having it surround them. They are used to having a furry mom and siblings cuddled around them. Keeping the orphans warm is the best thing you can do for it until you can find a rehabilitator. Be sure to place the box in a safe, quiet place away from children, pets, ants and the weather. Do not leave it on the ground outside as it will attract fire ants or predators such as cats, dogs or even birds. A bathroom or closet may be a good choice. Locked in your car, even with the windows down is NOT a good choice. They will die of heat stroke. Handle the baby as little as possible. Do not allow children to handle the orphans! Once you get the orphans settled and safe into this nice warm box now is the time to search for help.
How many do you see? There are three.
Do not feed the orphans just anything! Feeding the wrong formula and improper feeding can contribute to illness or death of the orphan. NEVER feed the milk from your fridge, or human infant formulas! These can cause more damage than you might think. Many store brand pet formulas are also harmful to skunk babies so please call a wildlife rehabilitator before attempting to feed anything. Feeding nothing is better than feeding the wrong thing. It really is. The only thing acceptable to feed them on the first day or two of rescue is warm Pedialyte or Gatorade (I recommend the fruit flavored Pedialyte and orange flavor Gatorade.) Use a small medicine dropper or syringe and drip just a drop at a time into the mouth until baby begins to lap willingly. Pay attention to if the baby is swallowing or not. If the baby is not willingly lapping the liquid you can cause damage by forcing liquid into the lungs. This can kill the baby. Never feed a cold baby! This is also very harmful to them as their system will not be able to digest the liquid, causing more problems. Always warm the orphans as directed above before trying to feed hydrating fluids. If the orphans are toddler age with their eyes open and they are walking around on their own, then you can feed these kits some plain or vanilla yogurt to start with, along with a shallow dish of water or hydrating fluids. If they do not drink from the dish they will need to be fed by hand with a dropper. Once they are stable, if they are going to need a more substantial meal before proper rescue then you can feed them a well cooked, chopped up fine, scrambled egg. This is good protein for them and sustains them until help arrives.
3 weeks old
These babies above or younger, need to nurse fluids from a dropper, syringe or bottle.
Stinker 4 weeks old. This toddler on left can start to lap yogurt and fluids from a saucer, but may still need a bottle.
5 weeks old These toddlers can eat a scrambled egg.
What to do if you have found orphans
If you have created or found orphan skunks please surrender the orphans to a wildlife rehabilitator for proper care and upbringing of the skunks. Trying to raise orphan skunks yourself lessens their chances for survival. They need specialized care. The longer the orphans go without appropriate care the more difficult it is for them to adjust to their natural setting, diet, socialization abilities, or learn survival skills. Keeping a wild skunk for a pet is not an option. Despite all the stories you have heard, they do not make good pets. Most states have made it illegal to keep a wild skunk as a pet. You will not find a veterinarian who will descent, neuter, vaccinate or care for illness of your skunk, and at some point your skunk will need vet care. Wild skunks want to be wild. They do not want to be your house pet. They will tell you this by tearing up your carpets, scratching up the doors, getting into all the kitchen cabinets, behind all of your appliances, clawing up the matting under your furniture and biting toes in the dark. They will use a litter box, however, they decide where it will go, not you. Once you have made a skunk your pet it cannot go back to the wild when you decide you can no longer keep it. There are not skunk sanctuaries for these discarded pets. The Humane Society won't take them, pet stores won't take them, zoos won't take them. Animal Control will kill them. Even if you found an individual who would take in your discarded pet it is not likely to work out. Skunks do not transfer as pets the way dogs, cats or hamsters do. A skunk can become habituated to a person, family, a home. But remove it from this familiar environment and it becomes anxious, stressed, and resorts to its' wild nature. It is very difficult to adopt and adapt wild skunks suitably. If you are determined to own a pet skunk, then adopt a breeder raised domestic skunk who has been discarded by a previous owner. See my pet skunk page and rescue resources for info on breeder raised domestic skunks.
If you cared enough for this animal to rescue it then prove that you truly care by giving it up to a rehabilitator. Trying to raise them yourself for release may not be the best idea if you are not trained and equipped for it. Skunks require special housing, food and socialization to be able to survive after release. Taking care of them inside your house, garage or rabbit cage will not provide the proper training they need to make it on their own. Keeping wildlife as pets for your own enjoyment is a selfish love, you are not doing them a favor. Respect their nature and allow them to live the life they were born to live.
This litter of 5 were 5 months old before they were surrendered by the rescuer.
It is very important that you find a wildlife rehabilitator to surrender the orphans to for proper care. Trying to raise orphan wildlife of any kind is more difficult and complicated than one might think. If your idea is to educate your children by raising them so they can watch and help this is ill conceived. If you are not trained or equipped for this you are putting the orphans life at further risk, and exposing your family to potential diseases and parasites. The longer it takes to get orphans to a rehabilitator the more difficult their survival becomes. A better education for your children is to set the proper example of what should be done with the animals. Making pets out of wildlife is never a good idea! Only those that are unreleasable due to a disability of some kind are the exception to this rule. Disabled wildlife can make good educational animals with proper handling.
Murphy 5 mos old.
Finding help for the orphan is not always easy. Go to my rescue resources page for a directory of organizations and individuals who are trained in wildlife care. Do not delay finding the proper help for the orphans! Wildlife rehabilitation is not a Monday - Friday 9 - 5 occupation. Call for help as soon as you follow the first steps of warming the babies.