Saskatchewan·New

Sask. family ready to say good-bye to adopted baby skunk

A Saskatchewan family took inspiration from Looney Tunes' Pepe Le Pew to name a surprising, but temporary, addition to their flock.

Skunks 'do an incredible service for the community and the environment,' expert says

Pepe the skunk gets his milk supplement from the Peacock family. They found the lonely baby skunk in June 2020 on the side of their house outside Wakaw, Sask., and have been taking care of him since. (Amanda Peacock)

A Saskatchewan family took inspiration from Looney Tunes' Pepe Le Pew to name a surprising, but temporary, addition to their flock.

The Peacock family from the Wakaw area, about 90 km northeast of Saskatoon, found a baby skunk in their driveway and adopted him.

"He was just a poor baby, just scared and alone," said Amanda Peacock.

"I had to do everything I could as a human being and to help the little guy … All four of my daughters have just grown to love this skunk. It's amazing that some animal that you see as a nuisance can capture your heart."

Peacock said she was backing out of her driveway when she noticed a little black and white animal lying next to her dog in the grass. Since she was on her way to an appointment, the mother of four called her daughters to check on the little bundle, fearing it was one of the family's new kittens. Instead they discovered the baby skunk and started syringe feeding him.

Eventually some of the animals at the Peacock home also seemed to grow fond of the little skunk.

"After a while we started integrating him with our mother cat and her six babies because they were all about the same size," said Peacock.

"They all kind of get along like a weird family. It's bananas. I love how they just accepted him as one of theirs."

Skunk removal leaves babies orphaned

Skunks tend to have a bad reputation in Saskatchewan, according to Jan Shadick, executive director and wildlife rehabilitator at Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation in Saskatoon.

She said the animals are actually great rodent controllers, eating mice as well as grubs out of the grass. 

"They do an incredible service for the community and the environment," Shadick said.

"Unfortunately many people don't like the fact that they're kind of stinky, which I can understand."

Amanda Peacock's cat nurses her kittens and Pepe the baby skunk. The Peacock family adopted the little animal after finding him motherless at their home outside of Wakaw, Sask. (Amanda Peacock)

The problem with removing or shooting an adult skunk is that it might have some babies waiting for its return, Shadick said. 

"Several days later these poor hungry dehydrated babies crawl out looking for something," she said. 

"Then we end up having to take them in as a wildlife rehabilitation centre. So in a perfect universe if people can call us if they're worried, we can provide them with information about how to get the skunk to move on her own with her babies."

Skunk parents usually don't leave their youngsters alone outside of the den area by themselves. People finding an orphaned baby skunk wandering around by itself should call for help, she said.

"Unfortunately skunks are two of the fairly common rabies vector species in the province of Saskatchewan," Shadick said.

She said anyone handling a wild skunk should wear gloves as a safety measure for both the human and the animal.

"If it bites you, then it's going to have to be euthanized and ... tested for rabies," said Shadick.

Pepe heading to a new home

Soon a new chapter will begin in the young life of Saskatchewan's very own Pepe Le Pew. 

According to Peacock, the family spoke with the Wildlife Rehabilitation Society of Saskatchewan and was directed to Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation. Once taken care of there, Pepe might eventually move to a special rehabilitation place for skunks outside of Outlook called Heaven Scent Wildlife Rehabilitation.

"It's actually probably been one of the busiest years, if not the busiest year ever for skunks," said Shadick.

"People are starting to know that wildlife rehabilitation centres exist. The problem is that there's only six or seven of us in the province. And it's a huge province with a lot of wildlife. If people continue to orphan the babies by shooting or trapping and removing the parents, we are not going to be able to keep up with demand."

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