RAISING SKUNK ON A SMALL SCALE
RAISING SKUNK ON A SMALL SCALE
Two years ago I started raising skunks. I bought six of a neighbor boy in November. He had dug the skunks out of a rock pile when they were little fellows, and had raised them on bread and milk principally. I intended to kill them and sell their pelts. They were so tame I thought why couldn't I raise skunks?
So I went to work and built a small pen 7x14 (entirely too small) and kept two females and one male. Sometime the first of May they had six kittens apiece, all short stripe. I had good luck with them and didn't lose any. So the next spring I concluded I would build a larger pen. I sent off and got wire netting, one and one quarter inch mesh and built a pen 105x50 feet. I kept four females and one male. These four had 21 kittens, about one-third star black and the rest short stripe. I lost two out of this bunch, that left me 25 young and old together.
Last month I sold $30 worth of furs out of these and had nine skunk left. This year I intend to keep ten females and two males. I am going to make my pen about as large again as it is now.
I have my pen located on an east hillside, where the ground is rocky and lots of shrubbery growing for shade. There is a spring branch running across the end of it. Skunks will drink an enormous lot of water in hot weather. For dens I use hollow logs, as they are easy to keep clean. I give them fresh bedding every ten days. In summer time I dip my skunks every eight weeks in disinfectant water, one part disinfectant to seventy parts water; this kills lice and keeps away mange and other diseases.
For feed I give a variety of things, spoiled eggs, boiled cabbage, cooked sweet potatoes, corn bread and milk, sugar corn when still soft, watermelons and dead fowls.
You who are thinking of raising skunk, would advise you to start on a small scale, as there is lots to learn. I learn something new every year. The cheapest way to start raising skunk would be to catch wild skunk in box traps, or with dogs if you have a dog that will bay them and not take hold of them.
To catch them this way take an old rake or hoe handle and then make a wire hoop out of No. 9 wire or larger; make just large enough to slip inside of a meal sack. It is best to cut sack in two. Sew hoop securely to mouth of sack. Now you are ready to catch Mr. Skunk.
When your dog barks treed get to him as soon as possible, as skunks are liable to get in holes. Now take your dip net (as it may safely be called) and knock the skunk's feet from under him and he will tumble in the sack. Always carry extra sack with barrel hoop in it and you can easily transfer the skunk. Two can work this better than one.
If you are going to raise skunks, don't trust anybody else to tend to them, for they won't have the interest in them that you would yourself and if you are not interested in the work, you can't make a success of it.
I intend to enlarge my pens each year till I can raise 200. I believe one man can tend 200 and then have half his time for other work. It is necessary to keep each female in separate pens when they have their young, as they will steal from one another. I think a pen 15x20 would be big enough for a litter, till they are old enough to wean. It is a good plan to separate males from females at weaning time.
Now, you who want to raise skunks, don't let somebody make you think that it can't be done, for it can. Some of my neighbors made all sorts of fun of me when I started, but I'm still at it and intend to stay with it.
Waldo S. Engleman,
Harrison Co., Ind.
Fur, News. Fur News, January 1916.
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