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Found a Baby Skunk, What do I do?

You look out your window and see a litter of skunk kits running around with no parent to be seen. What’s next?

Kits without their mother aren’t necessarily orphaned or injured. However, unlike some animals, skunks are typically attentive parents who don’t leave their babies unattended for very long. If you wait about three hours and still see no sign of mom, approach the babies and see if she comes running. If she does, slowly step away— she’s unlikely to spray you if you leave her alone. If there’s still no sign of her, it’s time to call a wildlife rehabilitator.

Things to know when you find a baby skunk

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If you see a baby skunk (or a line of baby skunks, nose-to-tail) running around without a mother in sight, they could be orphaned. Skunks have poor eyesight, so if something scares the mother and they run off, the babies can quickly lose sight of them.

Monitor the situation to see if the mother rejoins their young. If the babies are on the move, put on gloves and slowly place a plastic laundry basket (with lattice sides) over the babies to keep them in one spot and make it easier for the mother to find them. Do not put a weight on top of the laundry basket. 

If the mother returns to her young, she will flip up the basket and get them. If she has trouble doing this, you should lift the basket to let them out. Remember that skunks are very near-sighted, so fast movements can startle them into spraying. If you move slowly and speak softly, you will not get sprayed. Skunks warn potential predators by stamping their front feet when they’re alarmed, so if the mother doesn’t do this, you’re safe to proceed. If no mother comes to retrieve the young by dawn, please contact a wildlife rehabilitator. 

You may be asked to provide short-term stabilizing care or to put the skunks in a box or carrier. Make sure to wear gloves— a pair of gardening gloves is a good option— when you do this. Do not give the animal anything to eat or drink, or you could risk making it extremely sick.

Please do not, under any circumstances, attempt to raise a wild skunk yourself. Skunks are among the most common carriers of rabies in the United States, and may not initially show symptoms. Skunks raised improperly are also likely to be irreversibly tame or to suffer serious bone defects caused by improper nutrition.

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