Young Skunks Hunting Crickets

This video was streamed live on WildCare’s Facebook page! Like us on Facebook to watch
the whole funny video and be there for our next behind-the-scenes livestream from the Wildlife Hospital!
Trouble viewing the video? Click to watch it on YouTube.

Why do we have a swimming pool full of skunks?

Young skunk at WildCare. Photo by Alison Hermance

Fortunately these young skunks were more interested in sniffing the camera than spraying it. Photo by Alison Hermance

One of the most important things a WildCare Foster Care parent must do is provide the orphaned wild babies he or she is raising with the skills they’ll need to survive in the wild.

For all species, this includes the ability to find and capture the foods they will encounter in their natural environment.

Although these young skunks have been in care for weeks and have ably demonstrated their prowess at “hunting” chopped fruit, defrosted fish and even mealworms in a bowl, the food they’ll encounter once they have been released will not be as easy to catch.

To introduce them to the insects that will make up a significant part of their diet, WildCare’s skunk Foster Care specialist, Nat Smith, RVT provides crickets.

Skunks in the kiddie pool. Photo by Alison Hermance

Pouncing on moving insects is a skill that young skunks must develop. One gives it a try. Photo by Alison Hermance

We use the cricket hunt to observe the pouncing behavior of our young skunks, and to make sure that the hunting instinct kicks in when a stimulus (like a hopping cricket) is introduced.

But how do you combine a bunch of crickets and three juvenile skunks without losing them? A blue kiddie pool, of course! This has worked fabulously in the past, but as you can see in the video above, not so much this time.

These skunks are a little older, so they’re able to hop out of the pool with minimal difficulty, and this was the first time they had ever been in a wide-open enclosure— no wonder they’re mostly interested in exploring their surroundings!

The video was streamed live on Facebook, which was quite funny as several things could have gone disastrously wrong! Live streaming is something we’re doing frequently to give viewers a fun glimpse behind the scenes in the Wildlife Hospital. Be sure to like us on Facebook to view the next livestream.

The wrong end of the skunk. Photo by Alison Hermance

Here’s a view you’re best avoiding! Skunks will wave their tails, stomp their feet and generally give you lots of warning before they spray. Photo by Alison Hermance

Can they spray?

For young skunks at this age, the answer is definitely yes. Although calm in the presence of their Foster Care parent Nat, a stranger entering these babies’ pen will get a forest of raised tails and the tell-tale stamping behavior that says “step back or I’ll spray!”

Making sure that a wild orphan grows up without becoming habituated to humans is of utmost importance, and although they’re calm right now, these little skunks are earning their, er, stripes in learning how to be wild.

Record number of skunks

The astonishing number of skunks WildCare has admitted in 2016 (a total of 61!) has meant there is a backlog on open cages in which to let them explore. In a normal year, these babies would already have had plenty of time in a big enclosure, but there was simply no caging in which to put them until today.

A pile of sleeping skunks. Photo by Alison Hermance

WildCare admitted 61 young skunks this year, a record! How many babies are asleep in this log? Start by counting the tails! Photo by Alison Hermance

This is one reason we’re VERY excited about WildCare’s future new facility, which will be on a gorgeous 5-acre parcel just ten minutes north of our current location. On our new site, we will have ample space for caging, and even a record number of skunks will be easily accommodated. Learn more about our new site and planned relocation (scheduled for mid- to late-2017) here…

Although this particular cricket hunt didn’t give us much insight into our young skunks’ ability to hunt, these three will have other opportunities; they will remain in our care for at least another month.

We will try the cricket hunt again, and hopefully they will be ready to show off their pouncing skills! This is a very important step in the process of readying our orphaned skunks for return to the wild. The fact that it’s also very funny to watch is just an added bonus!


Baby skunk at WildCare. Photo by Alison HermanceMake a Monthly Donation to help us raise our orphaned baby skunks!

WildCare has admitted over 60 skunks in 2016, and most of them are orphaned babies.

These three skunk babies will be in care for at least another MONTH, and our Foster Care team has 17 other babies still in care!

They need special skunk formula and a lot of special equipment while they’re tiny. Then, as they grow, they’ll need larger caging and the varied diet they will find in the wild as adult skunks.

These are expensive! It costs money every day to raise these tiny orphans to be healthy adults, ready to return to the wild.

Your monthly donation of any amount makes long-term care like this possible! Give today!