Sparky

We have another skunk. :-) In September I went to an advert site that has exotic animals advertised (amongst lots of other stuff) and I saw the skunk and contacted the man to see if he was selling the skunk because of a problem that I could maybe help him with. But no, he said he didn't have enough time for the skunk. So I left it at that, thinking skunks sell like hot cakes so he'll find a home. Then middle of November I happened to go to the site again. I was on the rabbit list and somebody wrote that they saw this rabbit advertised and the woman said she must stop looking at those advertising pages. So what do I do? Go to the exotics advertisements. And the skunk had just been put back on 2 days previously. So this was meant to be, right? So 2 days later (Wednesday 26th November) we went and got him. His name was Roary but I find it impossible to pronounce so he's now called Sparky. He was scared and nervous because his previous owner didn't have enough time to spend with him, this is why he sold him. After we had him 2 weeks he was already a lot better. I think he's relaxed here because Peppy and Blossom are relaxed and he feels safe in their company. I pick him up sometimes when he's asleep in bed ;-) because then he can't run away. I don't want to chase him to pick him up. At first it took so long before he settled down in my arms, now he enjoys it much more. I'm sure it won't be long before he's coming for cuddles. His face is a bit like Tyler's so it's like I have a bit of Tyler back. Sparky is 1 year old like Blossom which is good, Peppy is 4.

It took him a while to figure out the cat flap, I had to help him through a few times before he went by himself, now he and Blossom spend a lot of time outside, even in the frost. Luckily he gets on just fine with Peppy and Blossom and they often sleep together, either with the dogs in their new huge bed or in their carrier.

It's the 4th of January 2009 now and I can easily pick up Sparky now. He is nowhere near as scared and nervous anymore. I often pick him up before I feed him, I put his plate on the floor and then him so he knows that good things follow being picked up. ;-) He's a very good boy and very sweet. Except when I prepare food as he'll get very impatient and will bite my trousers/ legs/ knees if I'm not quick enough... He doesn't bite Pete when he prepares the kefir which goes on their evening vegetables or when he stirs/ mixes the food. Nope, only I get bitten. I hope to take some better pictures of him soon when he's calm. I'm not sure I can take photos when he's eating as he is so greedy and so scared that somebody will take his food away, he always stands right on the plate on his food to stop anybody eating it. I hope he will soon figure out that nobody here wants it. ;-)

Update 31.07.12

Sparky was ill. In June I had been seeing him eat buttercup flowers in the garden, I thought "are they not poisonous" but he seemed okay. I looked buttercups up online and it said they have an acrid taste and cause almost immediate blistering but Sparky really walked around the garden and purposely ate all flowers so I thought maybe skunks can eat them, they can (apparently, never tried it though!) eat chillies without burning their mouths. And then first week of July Sparky wasn't well, he was salivating badly, it looked like his saliva was blood stained, his chin was very swollen and hard. He took very long to eat his food and did not go out at all, all he did was stay in his bed and only come out for food. So Monday 9th of July I took him to the vets, he was anaesthetised and his head x-rayed and my vet could not find anything wrong! Nothing could be seen in his mouth, I thought there must be blisters in his mouth from the buttercups but his mouth looked fine and nothing on the x-ray. He got antibiotics and the swelling went down slowly, I don't even think it was an abscess but some sort of tissue inflammation, I really don't know. I don't know if he had a reaction to the buttercups but I have been weeding and weeding our garden. As soon as I see a buttercup flower, I go and pull out as much of the plant as possible. I've been pulling out so many buttercups, when I close my eyes all I see is buttercups. I'm developing a buttercup phobia! Sparky has still got a lump on his jaw now, I hope it'll go soon or it's back to the vets. But he is still very, very nervous, especially around strangers, and a trip to the vets is so stressful for him. :-(

Sparky's chin 10.07.12











There's not much else to report, he is shy and nervous, never comes for cuddles but I do pick him up and cuddle him and then he will settle down and enjoy the attention. He is not keen on Peppy for some reason and sleeps on the big bed with the cats and Poppy whereas Peppy and Blossom sleep together on an arm chair, sigh. Because I don't have much to report, I will just add more pictures...













Update 06.08.12

Sparky has been to the vets today, he's had a swollen jaw for a month, about 4 weeks ago Michaela examined his mouth under anaesthetic and x-rayed his head and found nothing. Sparky was on a brief course of antibiotics and the swelling went down a little and Sparky was more active again but then the swelling changed and a definite big lump formed. I guess Sparky should've been treated more aggressively with antibiotics in the first place... :( So I took him back in today. Michaela anaesthetised him again and first opened the lump up from underneath. It went right to the root of the lower right canine and the root looked black/ dead. So Michaela went in from the top as well and took the canine out. It looked perfectly fine from the top. I just cringed and thought to myself, with other words we can now put a ring through his jaw... He is finally on pain relief and more antibiotics and a swab is being sent off.

Update 15.09.12

Sparky has had problems with a jaw infection for a few months now, last time Michaela took the lower right canine out and there was an abscess which she drained from the outside so there was a hole right through his jaw. It healed fine but the infection stayed. Now he still had a scab on his jaw which I picked and squeezed and puss and blood came out. On the 10th he was finally put on clindamycin, the antibiotic which works for jaw/ bone infections. The abscess cleared within 2 days but he needs to stay on the antibiotic for 8 or so weeks! I wish he'd got that in the first place when it started in July...

Sparky's chin 08.09.12





Update 24.04.13

Sparky is absolutely fine now. I was in Germany and Hungary from the end of September to the beginning of November, sigh, so Pete gave Sparky his course of antibiotics. When I got back, the jaw had healed and was fine. But it was a lesson that skunks probably need treating more aggressively than ferrets when they have infections. But even though his jaw must have hurt a lot, he still ate bones... In the end I did cut up everything small for him and fed more meat than bones though... But from November on he got his normal diet and is 100% fine.

Sparky has also been craving attention. It has been so funny, after food he often circles me when I'm sitting down, it's like he wants a cuddle but is unsure and too scared. So I (quickly) pick him up and then he immediately settles in my arms and enjoys his cuddle. :) Lovely to see.

Since Peppy was put to sleep, Blossom has been sleeping with Sparky. She mostly chose to sleep with Peppy but during Peppy's last days she went to sleep with Sparky. I needn't say that Sparky is happy now... It's this bitter sweet thing where I miss Peppy and wish he was still alive but it is nice to see that Sparky now has Blossom as a companion.

Update 15.08.14

When Blossom was pts, Sparky was pretty anxious. He has always been and still is a very nervous skunk but having Peppy and Blossom (or just Blossom) around helped him. With Blossom gone, it really upset him and he was more nervous than ever. I thought of looking for an elderly skunk friend for him but then he got used to being by himself and also to the new routine so he is okay now. Over June and July he was often or mainly fed in the garden and then he could run around for as long as he wanted to. He does not even mind Logan being in the garden with him, so far he has always been scared of Logan because Logan is so hyperactive at times and wants to invite Sparky to play but of course Sparky neither understand this nor does he want to play. ;) Now Sparky ignores Logan and Logan has calmed down, too. :) So Sparky is good and I hope it'll stay this way for a few good years...

Sparky 29.06.14

Update 25.01.15

Around the 9th of January skunk Sparky ate his dinner and in the end there was blood on the floor. He did have raw meat but for some reason I thought there was just too much red on the floor, even if he ate his meat and bones on the floor. He had been more quiet, not getting up for his food, but would eat fine when I called him. But I had a gut feeling something was wrong so I picked him up a few days later and he had an open cut on his jaw on the right hand side where he had an abscess (and had his canine taken out) 2 1/2 years ago with puss leaking out. :( I started him on antibiotics immediately and took him to the vets Monday 12th, he had another (root?) abscess and there was a canal filled with puss underneath the teeth on the bottom right jaw. I think he had pretty much all molars/ teeth pulled on the right side on the bottom. :( I have no idea why he got this, maybe the infection still lingered from 2 1/2 years ago? But why did it open up to the outside and not inside his mouth? His teeth are pearly white! And I cringe how bad this infection was and the pain he must have been in and yet he still ate bones! If ferrets had this, they would sit there shivering, eyes half closed, and definitely *not* eat. Michaela said something about the possibility of TB in his jaw but surely that would be really really unlikely? He's much better now anyway so I'm glad. :)

Sparky 21.03.15



Sparky 05.04.15

Update 21.05.15

Sparky got sick. He had been what I call “dodgy” for a few months, maybe since the beginning of the year. He would occasionally do something that sounded like a mix between hiccups and cough. I often listened to his heart but his heart rate was normal so I thought hiccups. Then he started regurgitating his food. Only occasionally at first, then almost every meal, then one week it got really bad and was a few times every meal and then almost every bite. Eat, puke, eat the puke, puke it out again. Saturday 9th May it was really bad and then Sunday he did not want to eat and was having a hard time breathing. You know, strained abdominal breathing. I was afraid he may have aspiration pneumonia or (more or less acute) heart failure. So I did the unthinkable, Michaela once said, many, many years ago, that if I ever had an emergency I could contact her and if she could she would come to the surgery to meet me. I had her on WahtsApp so messaged her and she came out to meet me at the surgery! Sooo grateful! We did an x-ray which didn't turn out so well but you could see the lungs full of fluid and he deteriorated badly at the vets, was foaming at the mouth, he looked like he was on death's door. Michaela did hear a heart murmur (and heart rate was up at 180 (normal 150 but Blossom's was 220 when diagnosed) and his temp was slightly raised but that can be from stress) so he got IM Furosemide and antibiotic (just in case) and then also Furosemide, Benazepril & Spironolactone, and Vetmedin for at home. Back at home I let him settle down and took the dogs for a walk and then I offered him meat with his medications. By then he was up and had peed and ate his meat without regurgitating. Then he ate all his veg and a few kibbles and kept it all down. Since then he has just got better and better, he is up again at feeding time and does not regurgitate his food anymore. He goes out in the garden at night. He is basically acting like nothing is wrong. Michaela said the regurgitation is seen in cats with heart disease. I never knew it could be a symptom of that. :( So for now, fingers crossed, he is stable and doing exceptionally good. But after Blossom last year I am not holding my breath, if he is stable for a long time then I will of course be so happy but I know how quickly things can change and it was a real bad roller coaster ride with Blossom. But maybe we caught Sparky's heart disease early thanks to his different symptoms.

Update 09.08.15

Sparky is still doing fine, only gets his Cardalis and Vetmedin and is absolutely fine. He is so good that I can put the tablets on his plate and he will eat them up! I had been giving him soft foods only and grinding his tablets up so I could stir them into the soft food but now I can give him chunks again. :)

Update July 2016

We lost skunk Sparky. I've been so upset and depressed. Sparky went downhill suddenly middle of May and stopped eating so I had him put to sleep on 21st of May. He had always had the same bowel movements and then suddenly they changed, were small, crumbly, instead of pooping once he went several times. He also became finicky with his food, first not wanting to eat broccoli, then over a few days he ate less and less. He was examined at the vets and his chest was white on x-ray. They thought he had a chest full of fluid or a tumour. So Furosemide was started. But he went downhill even more over the next 2 days to the point where he did not want to eat and screamed at me when I wanted to pick him up and medicate him. So my gut feeling was that he was in a bad way so I took him to the vets to be put to sleep. The vet suggested they could keep him in, try and draw fluid out of the chest and inject Furosemide and put him on a drip. Luckily I said no. Just my gut feeling like I said. Skunks are so greedy when it comes to food and I could not believe for one minute that his behaviour and symptoms were due to heart disease and fluid. His breathing was absolutely normal and just half a week or a week before he ran around like nothing was wrong at all, no breathing problems, nothing. And to not want food and scream was just telling me he felt *really* ill.

Sparky's normal stools



Sparky's changed stools





Unfortunately I didn't want to do a post mortem at first so when I changed my mind in the evening I didn't have a tub to send tissue samples off. He had a *huge* tumour in his chest cavity, filling the whole cavity, the heart looked like it had gone hypertrophic. There were dark patches on his intestines / bowel so I'm sure that was what made him acutely ill. And like I said before, he never showed any symptoms like laboured breathing that would have pointed to the tumour. And he must have had it for a year (and longer) as he had the episode where he was full of fluid a year ago and then he never ever had problems again.

I just miss him, I miss having skunks in my life. I was utterly depressed all through June, just crying all the time. What was really upsetting was that on the 20th of June 12 years ago I got my first skunk Tyler. And I thought now, 12 years later, I have no skunks anymore, no parents, no Poppy and Millie. Just wonder why. I so miss the skunks, if I could find a vet who'd be willing to descent skunks then I'd get 2 in a flash... In Germany skunk breeders take baby skunks to zoo vets to have them descented, the zoo vets do it despite the ban on descenting. They descent skunks in zoos because of health and safety issues. I could seriously just cry thinking back, so much has changed for the worst in the last 12 years and loosing the last skunk just topped it all.

Sparky 06.04.15