Skunks have not long been kept in captivity in England, so there is limited information available on their care.
I have worked with our Skunk Feeding Expert (Alice the Skunk!) to test out different foods and to work on getting a balanced diet right for her.
The basic balance of food types that a skunk needs are 75% Vegetables, 5% fruit, 10% dairy and 10% protein. You can also buy skunk vitamins and minerals which can ensure that they get everything they need, however with a good, balanced diet, it is not essential. This is a rough guideline. As good as it would be to have this balance each meal, it is not essential, as long as the balance is maintained over the week. Alice tends to eat what we are eating too (we eat fairly healthily), so if we have roast chicken, her ratio of chicken (protein) would be higher that day. She would therefore have less or no protein the next day. It is important to be realistic with your feeding expectations. If you overthink the feeding, and worry too much about exactly how much of everything your skunk is getting, it can take all the fun out of keeping them!
It is also important not to overfeed. They can become obese very easily. However with a good balanced diet, this can be easily prevented.
Sweet Pepper (technically a fruit, but counts under the 75% bracket!), Broccoli, Butternut Squash, Parsnip, Turnip, Swede, Carrot, Cauliflower, Courgette,
Strawberries, Blueberries, BlackBerries, Blackcurrant, Apricot, Apple, Pear, Fruit jelly (no added sugar)
Petit Filous fromage frais (also helps towards the fruit, but ensure that there is no grape content. The Petit Filous branded ones are fine, but a lot of the supermarket own brand ones have grape juice as a natural sweetener), Natural Yoghurt, Cottage Cheese
Chicken (cooked), Cooked Fish, Fish Fingers (grilled or oven cooked, but not fried), Boiled Egg, Scrambled Egg (can cause smelly flatulence!), Cat biscuits (small amount)
Alice has a sweet tooth, and loves Marshmallow and Jelly Sweets. She only gets them occasionally, and always the Natural ones with no added sugars and no artificial colours and flavours.
The most importa1 nt food to avoid is Grapes. This includes Raisins and Sultanas. They are so toxic to skunks that we have heard reports of skunks dying within hours of getting in to their owner’s grapes. For this reason, we do not have grapes in the house, just in case!
You should also avoid Avocado and Citrus fruits. They are not good for your skunk.
When they are young, you may need to grate some of the vegetables, such as carrot, parsnip etc and cover them in the yoghurt to make it easier for them to eat it. The yoghurt also encourages them to feed on the proper food too! As they get older, and less fussy, it can be chopped in to bigger pieces and the yoghurt served separately or at different times.
When young, it is better to feed them small meals more often, so they get food throughout the day. Adults can move to once a day.
Alice gets her food spread out, when she is up and about. She does not get fed during the day, as Skunks are nocturnal, so she spends most of the day in bed, asleep! She comes downstairs to see us, early in the evening, normally when we are eating dinner ourselves! She gets her Petit Filous and some vegetables normally Carrots and Peppers as they are her favourite. We also have an area where she can access vegetables and help herself. There are normally carrots in here, as well as whatever veg we have been eating, such as Broccoli, Parsnips and Peppers (her favourite!) She also likes chilli, and has been known to steal fresh Scotch Bonnets from our pantry and eat the whole thing! Because of her scavenging and thieving abilities, we are very careful what we keep in the house. She knows that there are sometimes sweeties in my handbag, so has been known to rummage through it, tipping the contents all over the sofa.
In general, they should be given around a 5″ bowl of food every day, but you will soon fit in to a routine with them, and know how much they will eat at any time. This can prevent a lot of wasted food.
Skunks are fairly messy feeders too, Alice has been known to leave yoghurty footprints all around the area she was eating in! They enjoy food, and can be fairly shallow in their motivation, with their affections aimed at the last person who fed them. However feeding your skunk can be a good way of bonding with them in the early days of your relationship. They will soon learn to trust you if you are the one giving them food!