We got another skunk! We're not changing his name even though the next skunk was to be called Cooper (or I favoured Connor). I wanted a friend for Tyler so I've been periodically looking at some web pages where people advertise animals for sale. Then a friend e-mailed me and said she has a friend who just got a skunk and I thought what, there are skunks for sale still? So I looked at the web pages immediately and Peppy happened to be advertised, I immediately phoned up about him, I usually hate phoning and e-mail instead but for some reason I just grabbed the phone and phoned up and I happened to be the first person phoning up about him. Quite a few other people phoned up about him, too, but since I was the first, I was the one who could see him first. The people lived in north Wales so Sunday the 9th of October 2005 we drove up, only about 140 miles but on horrible little twisting winding roads right through Wales. So that took just over 3 1/2 hours which surprised me, I thought it would take a lot longer. Being a Sunday at least the roads were quiet. So we had Tyler with us and when we got to the people, we let Tyler and Peppy run together, I was surprised, Tyler was so nosy and walked all around, I thought he would just hide, he's usually shy but he was quite bold there. The skunks got on, Peppy was so sweet and I could even handle him so we took him with us. Then at home Tyler turned into a little demon. ;-) We heard sounds from him that we didn't know he was capable of making! Grunting and screeching, he sounded more like a parakeet than a skunk. So we only let the boys run together under supervision, at least they didn't fight, Tyler was just scared of Peppy and would screech when Peppy got too close but then Peppy would leave Tyler alone. But while Peppy is desperate to be friends and is so happy to have skunk company, Tyler just wants to be by himself. I don't understand it as Tyler has never been weird with any of the other animals, he's happy for the ferrets, dogs and cat to be around him but then there is another skunk and he's petrified. Tyler is bigger, too. I hope they'll get on soon and play together. So Peppy was caged at night but the cage was open all day long, he still chose to sleep in it though. But a week later we left him out of the cage at night for the first time and he woke me up 3 times at night! He was rummaging through the lounge underneath my bedroom and I don't know what he was up to but he made a lot of noise... So since then Peppy has been allowed to stay out at night and everything is okay.
Peppy is a bit "damaged". ;-) The tip of his tail was bitten off, probably by a fox, when he was a baby. His tail looks shorter and "odd" but I don't care about physical appearance, personality is way more important and Peppy is perfect in that way!!! He's also got 2 broken canines, I thought the top right one was completely gone but then I saw a few traces of tooth there. The lower left also broke off. And he is rather fat. I think not enough exercise and too much food. ;-) Now he's sooo happy to run around, he's been in our garden and just runs around so much and he's pretty active so I bet he'll loose weight quickly. :-) And then I can get him neutered. I'm too scared to have him done now because of his weight and I wonder if him being obese is putting a strain on his heart so I don't want to risk him getting an anaesthetic.
Peppy's previous owner said he breaks eggs when you give him one so we thought he would hold them with his front feet and smash them onto the floor. So we gave him an egg and he shuffled it around and then shot it through his back legs with his front feet (I guess like a rugby player?) so it smashed against the wall (kitchen unit) and cracked. He went to it, pounced on it and then ate it. It was so hilarious, he is such a fun skunk. :-)
Oh, and he loves to cuddle. He's happy for anybody to cuddle him. Tyler will only cuddle with me and rarely with Pete but Peppy cuddles with anybody so Pete loves that. :-) When Peppy runs around, you only have to touch his back and he will sit down to be petted. :-) He's really amazing. :-) I was a bit scared to get another skunk because I thought what if he is destructive, doesn't get on with the other animals and is really skittish? But we were lucky yet again and got a model skunk! He's the same age as Tyler so about 1 1/2 years old. He's been with the ferrets and does not bother them at all, even Squeaky trusts him! Tyler will bite Squeaky's tail ;-) but Peppy won't so Squeaky knows that and doesn't mind him at all. ;-)
Peppy has even been sleeping with Tyler! I think Peppy joins Tyler when Tyler is asleep, this way Tyler can't protest. Actually, Tyler does protest sometimes but then Peppy just sticks his bum in Tyler's face and reverses into bed so Tyler curls up and goes to sleep and Peppy is happy because he is with Tyler. :-) Makes me so happy to see them together. Peppy likes his food, too, has had raw chicken, he even ate a chick. And he eats a wider variety of vegetables than Tyler.
Monday night, 24th October 2005, I was cuddling Peppy and rummaging through his coat to feel his skin (it was sort of dry and scabby which I thought would be fixed with fish oil and cod liver oil over time) and then I went to wash my hands and felt something crawl over my arm. At first I thought I had fruit flies on my arm. ;-) But the things didn't come off when I washed my arm and eventually I thought "oh, they're biting blood sucking things" and then it clicked that Peppy must have them! So I looked at him and there were sooo many of them in his coat. Literally hundreds. I checked Tyler and he had some. I found a few on Poppy. Not knowing what to do, I got the Frontline out and hoped that it would kill those things. I treated the skunks, cat and dogs. I also got a live one off Peppy and we put it into a container. I checked Peppy and Tyler Tuesday morning and Peppy had hundreds of dead things in his coat. :-) I gave Peppy a good combing and got many, many out of his coat. He must be feeling so much better. Anyway, Pete went to the vets with the live thing and the vets looked at it under a microscope and compared it to pictures in a book and it turned out that it was a dog biting louse (trichodectes canis). I looked them up on the Internet and it says they're host specific so theoretically they should only go on dogs, not skunks... Peppy was itching and has a very itchy spot that he chewed a lot but I thought that was just dry skin. I'm just glad that I noticed and that those things went onto my arm.
Peppy was neutered on 22nd November. I wanted to wait with it but the one broken canine got infected and when I took Peppy for a check-up, Michaela said she wanted to take it out. I was sooo worried because he is still fat so I took him to the vets when I got the call that Michaela was ready and I waited until Michaela anaesthetised him, then waited for him in the waiting room. Michaela worked on him for about an hour or even more! She castrated him and then not only pulled (dug/ drilled out???) the infected canine but also the other broken canine! He even had a stitch in his mouth... It must have been quite a bad procedure, poor Peppy... He had pain killer and well, it didn't spoil his appetite. I gave him kibble (softened with boiling water) for over a week. I always have some high quality dog kibble as stand-by (for the dogs and skunks).
Peppy has done well so far and lost quite a bit of weight. I'm not starving him, he sometimes even leaves food so I'm definitely feeding him enough. But he is so energetic and enjoys running around so I guess that is making him loose weight. This month he has learnt to walk up the stairs! :-) He was finally lean and strong enough to climb up steps but he still had a problem with balance and how to fit onto a step and then get up another. At first I helped him, I just put my hand under his tail so he wouldn't fall backwards and he quickly climbed the stairs. Then one day I was upstairs and Peppy appeared. :-) And once he managed to get up the stairs, there was no stopping him. He doesn't get up as quickly and easily as Tyler but I'm sure one day he'll be better at climbing stairs.
Peppy still needs to loose weight but so far he has done extremely well. Another 60 g and he will have lost 1 kg! He was 5.26 kg when we got him, heavier than Tyler. Now he is 4.32 kg :-) He was rather obese when we got him and could barely walk. He could not go up one step and went (struggled) through the cat flap on his side. He has lost an average of 1-1.5 % of his bodyweight per week which is excellent, not loosing too much weight too quickly but rather a little weight steadily. But he's still a wee bit podgy. Tyler is fat and needs to loose a little weight but I'm not too worried as he is very strong and goes up the stairs quicker than me. Plus he has actually lost almost 200 g since December. :-)
As a closing note I will say that Peppy is a wonderful skunk, as cuddly as Tyler and very, very sweet. He gets on with the ferrets, dogs and cats and feels very happy here. :-)
Peppy is doing very well and his weight now is at 4.14 kg so he has lost a bit over 1 kg. He lost it quite well at first and then just didn't loose any more weight after a while. Same with Tyler. So I eventually cut down their meat and upped the veg intake so the boys lost a little more weight. They are not overly active, I think if they were more active, they could have more meat...
But Peppy has got more active since we got Blossom so I hope he'll loose a bit more weight. Blossom is hyperactive and runs around at least 10 hours every day and luckily this gets Peppy motivated at least morning and night. ;-) He is very happy to have Blossom, she has slept in a cat carrier with him from the very start. Peppy was in a little snug cat carrier (if he slept in anything big, he also went to the toilet in it, sigh...) so with Blossom's arrival I had to give him a bigger cat carrier but no accidents in it so far. :-)
Peppy and Blossom
Peppy with Millie
Just a quick update, mainly to put on more photos. :-) Peppy is doing really well, comes for cuddles periodically but all in all he's quieter than Blossom or Sparky. He has lost more weight and is at around 3.8 kg. Still a bit too much. I sometimes put him out into the garden to get him going and then he will sometimes stay out and run around. But often he just wants to be in and take it easy, sigh...
Peppy is 8 now! And as far as I can tell he is healthy. He occasionally coughs and I worry about heart disease but he's not really showing any symptoms, nor is the coughing getting worse or more frequent. It really just happens rarely. He never really slimmed down but has always been active, in a skunky sort of way, walking in the garden, looking and digging for food, but ideally just sunbathing. ;-) He maybe has been a bit more quiet recently. But happy and sweet. He is more of a daddy's boy whereas Blossom is a mummy's girl. And Sparky is the independent skunk. So since I have no major skunk updates, I will just add pictures. On my web page, no update is a good update! :-)
When I wormed the skunks, I noticed Peppy’s right eye looked bad, I’ve never seen it but glaucoma came to mind. It looks bad. I hope it is just an infection, will take him in tomorrow... He is 8 1/2 now and does not act ill or uncomfortable in any way. Peppy's eye does look milky in some way but not like a cataract. There is red around the pupil where it should be white, and there's discharge. Maybe it is just an infection. But I just feel like it's something more serious. I guess the vets will tell me more.
Peppy has an eye injury, I wonder if Pontus clawed him accidentally while playing. :( My vet doesn't know whether the sight will be saved in the eye. She wanted to give Baytril but I read it should be avoided. I got Noroclav (Amoxicillin and Clavulanic Acid) now and a Gentamicin eye ointment. His heart was checked and seems fine and the temperature was 36.6 which also seems to be within normal range.
Been back to the vets and my vet is very happy with Peppy’s eye. :) It is “bulging” (open) a bit more now, like the healthy eye. Antibiotics have been stopped but I need to continue the eye ointment for another week. Where the white of the eye is red, my vet said there was new blood vessel growth (if I remember right).
I was talking to Kim Bensdorp from the Dutch Skunk Foundation at the time and he said "Sounds like good news! Blood is needed to heal the damaged tissue. Like with most skindamages at first it will look like a mess and than turns bright pink when new bloodvessels are formed to bring extra blood to renew the tissue. And now that the eye is not so retracted into the socket anymore, it may well be a sign that he can see with it."
Peppy seems to be going downhill slowly. He is 9 now and I wonder if his kidneys are going. He has started leaving some of his food and I have seen him drink during the day. The skunks never seem to drink, they seem to get enough water from the fresh meat and veg. Peppy is not drinking loads but it is just a slight change in his behaviour. He has also been sick occasionally, and it seems to be becoming more frequent. Back to the vets again.
It now looks like Peppy has liver failure instead of kidney failure. I sent pictures of the funky yellow pee he does to the skunk list and Deb, *the* skunk expert, said that it was bilirubin and she asked if his skin was yellow. So I checked and it was. :( It's strange because Deb said most skunks that go yellow have stopped eating, but Peppy does eat still. He occasionally vomits, not like he brings up all his food, just a bit. And only every few days or so. So I'm careful what I feed him. He is picky, will eat all meat but is picky with veg, this morning I gave him extra cauliflower which he loves, I gave him apple and he had some carrot and (bell) peppers. Just trying to keep him eating.
Been a bad week, Peppy went to the vets Wednesday 10th and had an x-ray which showed a “growth” so Michaela wanted to do an exploratory. Which was done Thursday 11th. I observed as usual and the ducts from the gall bladder and pancreas were blocked where they enter the intestine. It was a really strange structure. Michaela took one look and said “I can't do anything”. The “growth” on the x-ray had been the gall bladder which was very distended from being blocked. The pancreas was also swollen or something from being blocked and digestive liquids backing up. Michaela said in cats and dogs this would have been excruciatingly painful and owners would have begged her to put the animals to sleep. I said I could not see any signs of pain in Peppy. He was still running around, even went out into the garden by himself, and what nobody understands, he still ate. Anyway, he was put to sleep while under anaesthetic. I was such a mess, when I fetched Peppy on Wednesday, I cried on the way to the vets, then when I got to the vets and uttered “I'm here to fetch him”, I started crying again. I cried Thursday before the operation and thought how on earth am I supposed to observe when I am constantly crying. But once in the operating theatre, I was able to put all emotions aside and I haven't cried since. I don't know, my coping mechanism is to just not think about it, totally suppressing all thoughts and feelings.
After he was gone, thoughts of Peppy snook into my mind and I felt a stabbing pain in my heart so I quickly stopped thinking... I am so annoyed though, Peppy was so extremely healthy for his age, healthy heart, healthy organs, he was a picture of health. It was all down to some stupid blocked pipework... Just one small area that was bad. Michaela couldn't tell the reason for the blockage, either cancer or a (chronic) infection. I think it was blocked by tissue that grew in the wrong place... I'm not very good when it comes to organs of the digestive system and how they are connected and work...
Peppy only weighed 2.55 kg when he was pts. He had gone through a big moult in January, on the 8th of February I wrote this in an email: "He just went through a huge shed, we thought he was sick, loosing fur and weight. Well, he's growing a lovely new coat and the loosing weight thing was just an optical illusion. ;)". I can't understand why he lost so much weight so quickly, he was a bit picky with his food but then I gave him foods which he did eat and so it wasn't like he hardly ate...
Pictures and videos of Peppy taken when he was home Wednesday after his x-ray, plus pictures of his yellow urine are HERE.
Peppy's histopathology report
Diagnosis Intestinal adenocarcinoma
DESCRIPTION: Biopsies from mass between the liver and spleen x 3. Three pieces of tissue were examined. One comprises small intestinal with adjacent pancreatic tissue featuring focal mixed mononuclear infiltrates and some fibrosis. Extending from the mucosa through the submucosa, muscularis, mesentery and on the serosa of the small intestine are disorganised groups of hyperchromatic epithelial cells sometimes surrounding mucin lakes. The cells are pleomorphic with enlarged nucleoli and a high N:C ratio. Mitoses are frequent. There is a scirrhous reaction.
Adrenal gland - no significant histological abnormalities were detected.
Liver - there is mild biliary proliferation with portal fibrosis and mixed mononuclear and haematopoietic infiltrates. There is poor fication of some areas with autolytic change present.
The appearance is consistent with an intestinal adenocarcinoma. Intestinal carcinomas often metastasise before clinical diagnosis. Metastases are found in lymph nodes, on the peritoneum and in liver and lung in the dog and a similar behaviour may be expected in the skunk. The prognosis is likely to be poor. The changes in the remaining tissues samples are mild and likely inconsequential here.
Peppy and Poppy