Decoding Skunk Actions

I can't tell you how many times I have had skunk owners tell me that their skunks are aggressive, or lazy, or scared simply because they don't understand their body language.  Here are a few things I have picked up from years of reading skunk's actions: 

Lip Smacking Good: 

Yep, lip smacking is a very good thing.  This is the sound of a very happy contented skunk who is usually settling down for a nap.  If your skunk climbs up on top of the book you are reading, adjusts him/herself a little, and then smacks their lips a few times... expect that you will not be reading that book again for awhile, they have settled down for the long haul. If they let a huge sigh out afterwards, you better hope you just used the restroom... cause you're not moving without creating a grouchy displaced furball. 

Stompy Scoot:

Baby skunks learn to play and defend themselves by stomping at one another.  This will involve them charging at you going as fast as they can, planting their feet at the last seconds, and sometimes doing little backflips because they were going to fast.  It will usually continue with snorts, puffy tails, and their butts being pointed in your general direction.  They are inviting you to get down on their level and participate in their playtime.  Get on your hands and knees, smack your palms on the ground, and rake your fingers through the carpet, much like they are.   Your puffy furball will turn into a flurry of action,  running, pointing their butt at you, hiding behind a corner for a second only to come charging back out at you.  They love this game. 


My skunk will sometimes gently scratch my arm while I am snuggling her.  I never figured out exactly what this means, but I have discovered that it usually means something along the lines of "I have to pee, let me up", "I am bored of this now, let me go", "I am not in a comfortable position and am about to try and climb on your head" or something along those lines.   If your skunk is also shoving their face into your clothes and sniffing loudly it more than likely means you spilled a bit of your lunch on your shirt. 

Butt Rubbing: 

I don't know what it is that sets skunks apart from other animals in the bathroom regard (maybe it has to do with their anal secretions tasting as bad as they smell) but skunks have a tendency to clean their butts on your floor rather than with their tongues.  If a skunk is rubbing their butt against the carpet right after using the restroom, this is likely the case.  I keep my carpet clean by using a small area rug under their litter box. 

If your skunk is constantly rubbing their butt against the carpet, even if they haven't gone to the restroom recently, or you often see them worry or licking at their rumps, your baby likely has worms. 

Lewis and Clark: 

Your skunks are adventurers. They will map and memorize every single part of your house that they have access to.  It is not surprising to see skunks running in circles, sniffing everything and anything.  This causes a need to 'childproof' a lot of your house, as they will often open cabinets, drawers, doors, etc to see what they can find. I once walked into my house to find my fridge open and my bottom two shelves of food all over the floor being feasted on by two happy skunks.  Childproof everything.


Yes, you read that right.  While skunks are often very quiet pets, they can and will make noises at you.  My skunk has about three different chirps she uses and they are often easy to define based on what action she is currently performing: 

Play Chirps:  These are happy playful chirps she seems to be just unable to contain.  She is usually biting and shaking some sort of toy when I hear these.  Once in a blue moon she is wrestling with her sister or the cat. 

Angry Chirps: These are usually punctuated by stomping feet and an aggressive stance. She may make a low growling noise along with these chirps. You have a very upset skunk on your hands.  I usually only hear these when a friend brings over a dog my skunks are not used to, or when they have to take a bath. 

Frustrated Chirps:  These always happen when I am eating something they think smells fantastic, but I won't share.  They will circle and pounce my feet, attempt to climb my pants, look sad and suck in their cheeks swearing they haven't eaten in days, and when nothing else works, they will stomp their feet and chirp at me, letting me know exactly how annoyed they are that I am not sharing my great bounty. 

Skunky Coma:

No, your skunk is not dead, she is just sleeping... Especially as babies your skunk will get so exhausted at times that they will sleep like the dead.  I used to hold my phiphi in my palm and watch her head slowly lull back until it was hanging limply in the air. They grow mostly out of this phase, but will still sometimes shock you into thinking that they died in their sleep. 


When you see your skunk standing on top of a piece of your dirty laundry and scooting it backwards across the floor, they have claimed it as nesting material.  You can watch in amusement as they shuffle towels, blankets, socks, ties, or whatever fluffy materials they have found across your house and attempt to stuff it into whatever hole they have decided to create a nest in... or you can reclaim your laundry.  Your choice. 

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