This was Erica's
senior class picture. She had it taken with her beloved pet, Aspen. Aspen died
in December of 1998 to prove that he
not have rabies. Had there been an approved rabies vaccine and quarantine
period in this country for skunks, Aspen would still be alive and well and
brightening the Mills home. You can read Aspen's story on our background page.
When you ask the average
American what their thoughts are on skunks you get descriptions like:
"Smelly, rabies carrying,
This statement, with its misconceptions and misinformation,
could not be further from the truth! In fact, wild skunks prefer to avoid
contact with humans and other animals. They are very quiet, non-aggressive,
solitary creatures, willing to live and let live. It is true that they can
spray, if they feel that they are in danger. It is also true that if one gets
sprayed by a skunk, they stay "fragrant" for quite some time. Skunks do not
want to spray, however, and give plenty of warning before doing so. They only
spray as a very last resort. Skunks can contract rabies, and so can any other
unvaccinated mammal. They are no more prone to rabies than any other mammal.
Wild skunks are an important part of our ecosystem. They could be called
"Nature's Sanitation Engineers". They rid the environment of rats, mice,
cockroaches, harmful garden pests (snails, grubs, all insects, gophers, moles),
even poisonous animals (rattlesnakes, black widow spiders, scorpions), and
"road kill" (which can cause accidents and spread disease).
It may surprise you to know that skunks are kept as pets in literally thousands
of homes across the United States, and that they have become so popular as pets
that they are now being imported into other countries to be sold as pets.
While living with a skunk may seem strange to some, people who live with skunks
are just as dedicated to their companions as any dog or cat enthusiast is to
theirs. It may also surprise you to know that although these unique and
beautiful creatures make loving pets, not all states allow them to be kept as
pets. Skunks are allowed as pets in the US in less than half of the states, and
there are usually special permits required and other regulations that must be
Please do not misunderstand what we just said, however. Even in states where it
is legal to keep skunks as pets, if there is ever a question of any kind about a
skunk, that skunk will be killed and tested for rabies. This means that if a pet
skunk, who has never had a chance to be exposed to rabies should accidentally
bite a person while playing (as many pets will, even puppies and kitties), that
skunk will be sentenced to death. Remember, Aspen was a domestic skunk who lived
in a "legal" state.
The main reason for this is that there is no skunk rabies vaccine approved in
the United States, and there is also no quarantine period set up for skunks. The
vaccine does exist and it is in use in Canada in the wild
population to try to control rabies in the wild. However, it is being used "off
label" and is not approved in Canada either.
Please contact us with any questions you may have:
- Electronic mail
- General Information:
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Aspen Skunk Rabies Research, Inc
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