Posts Tagged ‘pet skunk’

From Hunter-Trader-Trapper (1902):

I am very much interested in the domestication and cultivation of the’ opossum and skunk, especially the latter. Mankind is rapidly pre-empting the inhabited territory of the world and the domain of wild animals have rapidly become extinct and many more are rapidly disappearing from the face of the earth. Hunters and trappers are penetrating the wildest and most forbidding parts of the earth in quest of furs, while farmers and boys all over the country are robbing the skunk and opossum of their furry coats that “our fair lady” may have warm neckwear. Very few people have any idea of the immense amount of this “second hand” clothing there is worn thruout the world. It is my opinion that furs in the future will rapidly become scarcer and therefore higher. Carnivorous animals have a natural antipathy for man and can rarely be domesticated. The skunk and opossum are carnivorous to a certain extent but will eat a great variety of foods. The opossum is a great vegetarian and will eat all kinds of fruit. The skunk is a dear lover of sweet corn, sweet potatoes, bread, melons, etc. The fact is these animals are easily kept and are also easily tamed, especially the skunk. The skunk is as easily cared for as the ferret, and there is a ready market lor his fur, while to sell the ferret you must advertise for a buyer. The skunk is one of the three animals of the world that furnishes a naturally black fur. The black house-cat and the black bear are the other two [LOL, Great naturalist there!]. This is one secret of the great value set on the fur of the black skunk. I do not think the cultivation of skunks will ever be overdone. I would very much like to read the experience of others who have tried or who are trying the project of raising these animals. I made my third shipment of furs for this season Feb. 7, 1903. It consisted of 15 skunk, 15 muskrat, 17 opossum, 3 mink and 2 house-cats. My check for above was a beautiful little piece of paper worth $31.45. This puts me near the $100 mark for this year. I have on hand about $15 worth of furs since I shipped. I expect to make about two more shipments this year.

Lee S. Dick

I’d like to know where he got the info on black fur. Um, in case you didn’t know, it’s bit wrong.

But apparently at one time, there was a great market for cat fur!

I don’t know what became of this domestication attempt. I know that striped skunks can breed in captivity, and they come in several fur farm color morphs. Some states that allow pet skunks require that one be of one of these morphs, just so that the authorities know for certain that any pet skunk is captive-bred.

I don’t think opossums have ever been propagated in this fashion. I’ve never heard of an opossum fur farm– probably because the fur itself never was all that valuable.

My guess is Mr. Dick’s venture didn’t go very far. Even if skunks are easy to breed in captivity, they have to be descented, which is a cost that exists across an entire breeding operation. I know that ferrets normally are, but I don’t think descented ferrets necessarily had to make up the bulk of the early domesticated population. With striped skunks, one would have to descent them. It’s just too much of a hazard to deal with an animal that squirt nastiness into your eyes every time it gets a little miffed.


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For those of you who don’t live in North America, here’s a very good video on skunks. This show was on PBS not long ago, and the striped skunks were awesome.


I can’t describe what skunk musk smells like. I really can’t.

It’s really not the smell that is bad.

It’s how it irritates your eyes and mucous membranes.

I say this as someone who has been skunked.

I had a dog that reveled in killing skunks, and she attacked one that was maybe 10 feet away from me one evening. As she shook it, the skunk wound up spraying me as “collateral damage.”

In some states, people can keep these animals as pets, but most states ban it because skunks have their own strain of rabies.

Incidentally, skunks are not weasels (Mustelids). They used to be classified with the weasels, ferrets, mink, otters, badgers, martens, and wolverines (gluttons). But now skunks and stink badegrs are in their own family called Mephitidae. Both skunks and Mustelids are members of the superfamiy Musteloidea, which includes the raccoon family (Procyonidae) and the red panda (Ailuridae). This suborder Caniformia within the order Carnivora. This suborder also includes dogs, bears, seals, sea lions and fur seals, and the walrus.

Finally, we supposedly have Eastern spotted skunks in West Virginia, but I have never seen one here. Those are the skunks that do handstands.


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