Get the baby skunk contained

To keep the baby skunk safe while you figure out how to help it, get it contained. Baby skunks are able to spray once they’re furry and their eyes are open, but because they’re small they can’t spray a whole lot. Skunks usually only spray when they’re startled, so move slowly and carefully. Because skunks can’t see very well, talk or hum quietly while you’re containing them.

Smaller babies

Put the baby in a small cardboard box with a soft towel or t-shirt. Even on a warm day small babies can get cold, so give it a heat source:

  • a clean sock filled with dry, uncooked rice, and microwaved for one minute
  • a plastic bottle from the recycling bin filled with hot tap water
  • an electric heating pad set to “LOW” and placed under half of the box.

Larger babies

Larger babies can be lured into a cat or dog crate with food, or place a cardboard box or laundry basket over top of them. You can put something heavy on top of the container to keep them in one place.

Is the baby skunk injured?

A baby skunk with any of the following signs is injured and needs medical attention:

  • There are obvious wounds or blood on its body
  • It has had contact with a cat – even with no obvious injuries, this is a medical emergency for baby skunks
  • It is lying on its side and cannot right itself
  • There are bugs crawling around on it

Put the injured baby skunk in a cardboard box in a dark, quiet place. Put a heat source like a rice sock or warm water bottle in the box with them. Contact a wildlife rehabilitator right away.

Reuniting the baby skunk with its mother

Sometimes baby skunks can accidentally get separated from their mother. If the baby isn’t injured, getting it back to its mom is the best possible option. Skunks are excellent mothers and will come back for their babies if given a chance! Skunk moms will also take much better care of their babies than any human possibly could.

Place the box with the baby skunk (and heat source) as close as possible to where you found it. Skunks are not very good at climbing, so make sure the box is not too tall — we want to make sure the mother skunk can reach her baby when she comes back.  Shoebox height is perfect.

Be patient

Baby skunks should be left out for one whole overnight period to see if their mother will come back — skunks are nocturnal, and most likely to come looking for their babies at night. Make sure to KEEP THE BABY SKUNK WARM – refresh the heat source as needed.

Don’t give the baby anything to eat or drink.  Right now, keeping it warm and trying to get it back to its mother is more important.

What if it’s raining?

If it’s raining lightly, cover half of the box with a piece of cardboard. If it’s raining hard, bring the baby inside and keep it dark and quiet and warm. Put it back outside as soon as the weather clears up a bit. A mother skunk won’t be looking for her babies during a heavy rain.

What if it’s during the day?

If you found the baby during the day, put it outside right away – although skunks are nocturnal, mothers will still look for their babies during the day. They’re good moms. In very busy high-traffic areas, it may make more sense to bring the baby inside and keep it somewhere dark and quiet. As soon as the sun starts to set and traffic dies down, get it outside right away. No matter what, make sure to leave baby skunks out for their mother for at least one whole overnight period.

MYTH! If you touch a baby skunk, its mother will NOT abandon it. Skunks are excellent moms. All they want is their baby back.

Mom didn’t come back

If you’ve kept the baby warm and waited at least one whole overnight period, the baby is probably orphaned. Mother skunks almost never abandon their babies, but sometimes something happens to mom and she can’t make it back.

Make sure the baby is contained and has a heat source, don’t give it any food or water, and contact a wildlife rehabilitator for advice.

Temporary care

While you are waiting to hear back from a wildlife rehabilitator, keep the baby skunk contained in a dark, quiet place. Make sure it has a heat source. Don’t give it any food or water until you have spoken to a rehabilitator. Further temporary care instructions can be found here.