Is it legal to own a skunk as a pet in Iowa?

Winny

Well-known member
Oct 30, 2023
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I found an interesting article here - Koel.com that discusses the legality of owning a pet skunk in Iowa. Not only Iowa, but South Dakota and Wyoming are also mentioned in regards to skunk ownership. Each of these states do not require a permit for owning such a pet. There are 12 other states that allow people to own pet skunks, but are subject to regulations, permits, applications and even home inspections.

Of course, this is referring to domesticated skunks, who's scent glands are removed at around 3 weeks old. Due to this, domesticated skunks must be indoor pets due to losing their defense mechanism. Some people are against the removal of their scent glands. Essentially, if you intend to be a skunk owner, you will need to be prepared for the responsibilities that come with it. No matter what way you put it, these are wild animals we're speaking about, and it could be a challenge to care for such unique pets.

Would you consider be a skunk owner yourself? Of course with the scent glands removed.
 
Location
Iowa, United States
Owning a pet skunk would be wild, but taking it out of its natural habitat seems wrong to me. I know sometimes the only way to save an animal is to take it in, maybe some skunk owners do it because the skunk can't live in the wild anymore. In my opinion, I think they should stay as wild animals. But if you're saving them, than I understand.

Here in Wisconsin we can legally own a pet skunk, but they require first that we obtain a specialty license along with a Captive Wild Animal Farm License. But, if you import the pet from another location or country, you may be forced to obtain an Animal import permit.
 
Out of curiosity I looked up domesticated skunks for sale and found some at compoundexotics.com. You can't deny, they are pretty adorable.

Of course, I own pets rats so my idea of a cute pet may be a little different than others'...
 
Out of curiosity I looked up domesticated skunks for sale and found some at compoundexotics.com. You can't deny, they are pretty adorable.

Of course, I own pets rats so my idea of a cute pet may be a little different than others'...
Oh for sure, skunks are adorable little creatures. If I could spare the room I'd totally get one that's scent glands are removed. Most people fear being sprayed, so I get why people aren't too keen on having one as a pet.

I had pet mice growing up, but always wanted to get a pet rat. How many pet rats do you have?
 
I had pet mice growing up, but always wanted to get a pet rat. How many pet rats do you have?

We have three rats: Kiwi, Sparkles, and Boo. Rats are legal to own in California but none of the major pet stores sell them. There was an unfortunate case in California about 10 years ago where a kid got bit from a rat purchased at Petco and subsequently died from rat bite fever. Petco, Pet Supplies Plus, and other retailers pulled rats from their California stores in response to the media attention that followed. I think there's still stigma about keeping rats as pets and this unfortunate/rare incident played right into that in people's minds.

We got our ratties from a local rattery (Squeakin' Pups out of El Cajon). My boys love them and we've never had any issues with biting or aggression. The rattery is very humane and makes sure all the rats they sell are well socialized to humans and bonded with other rats. They also make sure their rats only go to good homes. I posted about Squeakin' Pups' detailed application process over in this thread.

I'd definitely encourage you to consider getting rats. They really do make warm and personable pets and don't have nearly the same maintenance needs as dogs/cats.

Here's a photo of Sparkles, Boo, and Kiwi (starting at the top left going clockwise) feasting on a pumpkin last Fall:

IMG_9763.JPG

Here's Boo chowing down on a treat:

IMG_9224.JPG
 
Owning a pet skunk would be wild, but taking it out of its natural habitat seems wrong to me. I know sometimes the only way to save an animal is to take it in, maybe some skunk owners do it because the skunk can't live in the wild anymore. In my opinion, I think they should stay as wild animals. But if you're saving them, than I understand.

Here in Wisconsin we can legally own a pet skunk, but they require first that we obtain a specialty license along with a Captive Wild Animal Farm License. But, if you import the pet from another location or country, you may be forced to obtain an Animal import permit.
It would be cool, but I don't know if I could handle caring for a skunk. I imagine they require more care than other pets do. I wonder if you can walk your skunk.🤔
Out of curiosity I looked up domesticated skunks for sale and found some at compoundexotics.com. You can't deny, they are pretty adorable.

Of course, I own pets rats so my idea of a cute pet may be a little different than others'...
OMG they're adorable! I want one now. And hey, the prices have been cut in half, might be the best time to pick up a pet skunk.
We have three rats: Kiwi, Sparkles, and Boo. Rats are legal to own in California but none of the major pet stores sell them. There was an unfortunate case in California about 10 years ago where a kid got bit from a rat purchased at Petco and subsequently died from rat bite fever. Petco, Pet Supplies Plus, and other retailers pulled rats from their California stores in response to the media attention that followed. I think there's still stigma about keeping rats as pets and this unfortunate/rare incident played right into that in people's minds.

We got our ratties from a local rattery (Squeakin' Pups out of El Cajon). My boys love them and we've never had any issues with biting or aggression. The rattery is very humane and makes sure all the rats they sell are well socialized to humans and bonded with other rats. They also make sure their rats only go to good homes. I posted about Squeakin' Pups' detailed application process over in this thread.

I'd definitely encourage you to consider getting rats. They really do make warm and personable pets and don't have nearly the same maintenance needs as dogs/cats.

Here's a photo of Sparkles, Boo, and Kiwi (starting at the top left going clockwise) feasting on a pumpkin last Fall:

View attachment 480

Here's Boo chowing down on a treat:

View attachment 481
They're so cute, thank you for sharing! I never had pet rats or mice, but always thought they were cute. But, everyone steered me away from them because they would say "oh, they're full of diseases, don't make great pets, etc." I think rats get a bad wrap when it comes to pet ownership.

How long do rats usually live for?
 
How long do rats usually live for?

They can supposedly live up to four years but I think that's a best case scenario. Note that if you're getting rats it's recommended you get at least three at a time because they're such highly social creatures. If you buy three (as we did) and one dies early on, the other two will still have a companion.

We purchased our rats in April of last year, so they're a little over a year old at this point. However, Sparkles developed melanoma a few months back - we took her to the vet and they diagnosed it. We're not sure how much time she has left but she seems perfectly healthy at the moment...hoping she stays that way for a while still.
 
We have three rats: Kiwi, Sparkles, and Boo. Rats are legal to own in California but none of the major pet stores sell them. There was an unfortunate case in California about 10 years ago where a kid got bit from a rat purchased at Petco and subsequently died from rat bite fever. Petco, Pet Supplies Plus, and other retailers pulled rats from their California stores in response to the media attention that followed. I think there's still stigma about keeping rats as pets and this unfortunate/rare incident played right into that in people's minds.

We got our ratties from a local rattery (Squeakin' Pups out of El Cajon). My boys love them and we've never had any issues with biting or aggression. The rattery is very humane and makes sure all the rats they sell are well socialized to humans and bonded with other rats. They also make sure their rats only go to good homes. I posted about Squeakin' Pups' detailed application process over in this thread.

I'd definitely encourage you to consider getting rats. They really do make warm and personable pets and don't have nearly the same maintenance needs as dogs/cats.

Here's a photo of Sparkles, Boo, and Kiwi (starting at the top left going clockwise) feasting on a pumpkin last Fall:

View attachment 480

Here's Boo chowing down on a treat:

View attachment 481
Awwww, I for sure want pet rats now. 😍 And that's good they get them used to humans right away. We got our mice from a town fair growing up. They used mice for this wheel game, where if they chose a hole you bet on, you get a prize. At the end of the fair they were giving away mice and we landed two of them.
They can supposedly live up to four years but I think that's a best case scenario. Note that if you're getting rats it's recommended you get at least three at a time because they're such highly social creatures. If you buy three (as we did) and one dies early on, the other two will still have a companion.

We purchased our rats in April of last year, so they're a little over a year old at this point. However, Sparkles developed melanoma a few months back - we took her to the vet and they diagnosed it. We're not sure how much time she has left but she seems perfectly healthy at the moment...hoping she stays that way for a while still.
I thought they lived a little longer, but 4 years isn't a bad time-frame I suppose. I hope Sparkles lives a long and happy life, even with the diagnosis. Melanoma sucks!
 
They can supposedly live up to four years but I think that's a best case scenario. Note that if you're getting rats it's recommended you get at least three at a time because they're such highly social creatures. If you buy three (as we did) and one dies early on, the other two will still have a companion.

We purchased our rats in April of last year, so they're a little over a year old at this point. However, Sparkles developed melanoma a few months back - we took her to the vet and they diagnosed it. We're not sure how much time she has left but she seems perfectly healthy at the moment...hoping she stays that way for a while still.
Four years is less then I thought. I thought they'd live around 6 years or so, but I guess I was wrong. When they pass away, will you end up getting another group of pet rats?

I'm sorry to hear about Sparkles, that must be hard. I hope she lives a long life free of any pain.
 
I'm surprised that they're so lenient, since skunks are wild animals. I know they're calling them domesticated skunks, but how domesticated can they really be? I guess I'm just skeptical.

Eric, your rats are adorable. What made you interested in caring for such an unusual pet?
 
I'm surprised that they're so lenient, since skunks are wild animals. I know they're calling them domesticated skunks, but how domesticated can they really be? I guess I'm just skeptical.

Compound Exotics' skunk sales page states that their skunks "have been bred in captivity for generations and therefore have completely different character traits from their wild counterparts." I'm not sure what this means exactly. I suppose it probably means they've been breeding skunks like dogs have historically been bred, with human companionship traits (e.g., affection and loyalty) emphasized in the gene pool and non-preferred traits (e.g., aggression) deemphasized. I agree, though, that I'd want to know more about how exactly these skunks have been domesticated before getting one as a pet.

Eric, your rats are adorable. What made you interested in caring for such an unusual pet?

My wife had rats growing up so when we started thinking about pets that would be good for our family, especially with our boys in mind, rats were one of the first options that came up. My wife has fond memories of the rats she had as a child so that kind of normalized it for us, but I know there's some stigma attached to it. A lot of people think rats are a weird choice for a pet and we've been told as much (lol). My mom tried to talk me out of getting rats at first but has gotten used to them...she won't hold them but is perfectly comfortable around them at this point.

We've also considered getting a dog, which I know our boys would love, but I haven't been super enthusiastic about the commitment level involved with dog ownership and have dragged my feet on that one (lol). For at least right now, the rats scratch my kids' itch to have a warm and cuddly pet while minimizing the upkeep. Rats are relatively low maintenance, at least compared to dogs, which I really think makes them a good fit for busy families like ours. For example, we like to travel to Michigan once or twice a year, which is pretty easy to do with rats...we just fill up their food bowl and ask the in-laws to check on them every few days.

When they pass away, will you end up getting another group of pet rats?

Maybe. That'd be my vote anyway! Like I mentioned above, my boys really want a dog, so the writing might be on the wall as far as next pets go. I think there's a very strong chance we'll be graduating to dog ownership after the rats die, but we'll see...
 
I would never own a skunk as a pet but if you are in Iowa, you can have skunk as pets and you do not need a permit. Actually, Iowa is one of the three states where you can own skunk as a pet. In some states, you can own skunk but you need to get permits, and there will also be home inspection.
 
I would never own a skunk as a pet but if you are in Iowa, you can have skunk as pets and you do not need a permit. Actually, Iowa is one of the three states where you can own skunk as a pet. In some states, you can own skunk but you need to get permits, and there will also be home inspection.
I did not know that Iowa allowed skunks as pets! They sure are cute, except for the smell part :D

Out of curiosity I looked up domesticated skunks for sale and found some at compoundexotics.com. You can't deny, they are pretty adorable.

Of course, I own pets rats so my idea of a cute pet may be a little different than others'...
Rats and mice can be adorable too :) I have never owned either, but when I was a kid, I had hamsters and I used to love them so much!
 
I have never been a fan of exotic pets, I am not in favor of wild animals as pets, maybe I am old school guy. I believe if you are raising animals like skunk as pets, you need to know their behavior as well, you also need to become aware about the diseases that you might get while coming into contact with these animals. By the way I hear that the remove smelly sack of the skunk before sending them as pets. If they are doing ti, I would also consider this as a cruelty towards animals.
 
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