When your new baby comes home one of the first things you will try to do is figure out what litterbox works best. It makes sense. Skunks poop, and nobody wants to have a house covered in poop. Unlike with kittens, however, skunks will not instantly find a litterbox and bury their poop within it. In fact, with their bug hunting instincts, I've found them far more likely to play, dig, and sleep in their litter than to poop in it.
I made the switch to potty pads years ago and everyone in my house was happier for it. I purchased a puppy potty pad holder which had walls since skunks are used to backing into a corner to pee. This allowed me to protect my walls, and kept them from backing so far up that they missed the edge of the pad.
We also tried several different types of potty pad holders. Some skunks will use one like the one pictured, and it works great. Others will steal the potty pad for bedding. Those klepto skunks may require one of the holders that places a grate between the animal and the potty pad. It takes a little longer to clean, but it can be very much worth it. Because my skunks are in two different areas, we have some of both types.
Some tricks to potty training that I have found:
- If the skunk picks a corner you are OK with, just stick the litterbox there. The easiest way to potty train the skunk is to let them tell you where they want to go.
- If the skunk has too large of an area to roam, they will miss the litterbox. I have had my best success training in a single room and keeping the litterbox relatively close to their den. Skunks by nature are lazy, most won't travel across the whole house to use a litterbox like a cat.
- Sometimes you might just need more than one litterbox. If you have more than one skunk they may not like to share. As above, if your house is too large, you may need a litterbox on each end.
- Start where the skunk chooses and slowly migrate the box. Sometimes you can start in one corner and slowly move the box somewhere else. Some skunks will learn and follow the box. Others will just keep using the area you just vacated by moving the box.
- Block off areas where you don't want them going potty. Sometimes the only way to stop a determined skunk from using the restroom in a chosen spot is to put a piece of furniture there, or block their access to that room.
I see some people talk about positive reinforcement, but I don't use it because I have had issues with manipulative skunks who use it purposely to get treats. One such event:
My Skunk's litterbox was near the kitchen cause I lived in a studio apt at the time. I was cooking breakfast and she could smell the bacon and eggs. The evil beggar that she was she tried to get me to cave and feed her delicious fatty pork and cheesy eggs. I refused.
So, she goes and pees in the litterbox. "OH! Good girl, here's a tiny piece of egg for you!" She devours it, cause what skunk wouldn't, but still desired delicious bacon... so of course, she goes and pees a little more in the litterbox....
"How clever! You peed again! Here's another little piece of egg!" I was so proud of myself, look at my training working so well.
She pees in the litterbox a little more. "uhhh... either you have a UTI or you're playing me. I'm pretty sure you didn't even actually pee that time. You're not getting anymore of my breakfast" I tell her.
She stomps her feet. She has used the litterbox and demands tribute. However, I stand firm and refuse to budge.
In an act of pure defiance at the fact that I refused to reward her bathroom habits, she crapped in the middle of my kitchen floor then wandered off grumbling.
After that I changed my potty training from positive reinforcement. Cause that was not working