A few very long weeks followed until the babies were ready! Seb had a litter of 2 and a litter of 6. The litter of 2 was ready on 20/06/04. So we drove back to near Bristol to fetch our baby. :-) Just as well I only had 2 babies to choose from, if I'd had to choose from 4 or 6, I would have taken ages! I'm known for my indecisiveness! ;-) I eventually picked the smaller of the 2 as he seemed to interact a little more with me and was a bit more curious.
I held Tyler on the way back and I had a cage prepared for him so I put him in that when we got back and prepared some food for him. When I approached the cage, he stomped at me. I'd wondered when I would be able to witness the famous "stomping" and it didn't take long at all. :-)
I held Tyler a lot and let him out a lot and only put him back in his cage when he was tired. It only took 1-2 days for him to bond with me. After 2 days, when I approached his cage, he wouldn't run away from me anymore but come to me so I could pick him up. After only 2 days he was a lot tamer than the first skunk was that we had seen... On day 3, I think, I took him for his first walk. I put a ferret harness on him and took him out to see if he wanted to have a dig or walk around. He sniffed a lot and dug a bit and then, when I tried to walk with him, he followed me. I'd never seen anything like it, he followed me like a puppy. :-) From then on he got 1 to 2 walks every day, he loved it outside and loved having a run.
His feeding was difficult though. He immediately took to the raw meat I gave him and loved his scrambled eggs- but didn't want any veggies... He ate some corn on the cob for a while and then would only eat celery... I eventually found out that he prefers veggies that had been frozen and defrosted, they were soggy and he liked that. I also started mixing veggies with minced/ ground meat. That way he'll eat pretty much anything. His favourite now are Brussels sprouts, he'll eat them on their own without meat. But he's also eaten broccoli, cauliflower, broad beans, green beans, spinach, carrots, sweetcorn, pepper etc. So we're getting there.
He's not caged anymore. Well, only at night. During the day he roams free in the lounge and kitchen and gets to go into the garden. At night he is caged because he keeps dribbling pee on the floor. I don't know whether he does it on the carpet in the lounge but definitely on hard surfaces (vinyl and laminate floor). I hope it's to do with him slowly becoming a "grown up" skunk and that it is some marking behaviour. He'll be neutered at the beginning of September when he's 4 months old. So I hope he'll stop the peeing.
He's also gone through some biting. When he was a wee baby, we played rough with him like we would with the ferrets. But then one day we found out that Tyler has a much bigger mouth and stronger jaw so we found out that playing rough is a no-no. From then on he was "punished" for biting with a loud "NO" and being ignored. Apparently skunks like attention and hate being ignored so it worked and I would always pick him up when he was good. He now is very clingy and cuddly and spends a lot of time on my lap. Like now while I'm typing this.
He is very active. In the morning he is up for about 3 hours, during the day he gets up every now and again, has a walk around, comes for a cuddle and either sleeps on my lap or goes back to his corner to sleep. At night he's active again from about 7 p.m. until 11 p.m. He is so hyper sometimes at night and will play with Poppy and chase Millie. He gets on really well with the dogs and also with the cats. He'll even play a little with Leo and Piper. But when Tyler gets too rough, I separate them.
So I think we have a really brilliant skunk. His biting is not too bad and he's growing out of it, he is very cuddly and loves walking and gets on with dogs and cats. After I heard how some skunks bite really hard and don't cuddle or walk at all, I think we're very fortunate...
Tyler was castrated on Tuesday 28.9.04, he was approx. 5 months old then. I stayed with him for the whole time at the vets as he doesn't like being handled by strangers so I thought he'd be calmer if I was there with him at all times. He had 2 injections before the operation, vetergesic and rimadyl. Didn't cry or struggle at all. He also didn't fight the gas much, not as bad as the ferrets do. I watched the operation (and held his gas mask in place) and took pictures. I'd never seen a castration before. When Leo and Piper have their operations, I'll have to watch and take pics. Tyler was also microchipped (Michaela had real trouble getting the needle through his skin!) and then he didn't take long to wake up and we were back home very soon. Michaela glued the 2 incisions but Tuesday evening, one had opened up again. But Wednesday morning it had already closed again so I just kept an eye on it and it healed fine.
Tyler has been very cuddly and clingy lately. He plays with the dogs, mainly at night, and I've been letting ferrets into the lounge and they all get on. One day Wesley even managed to get into the lounge and was with Tyler unsupervised (I didn't know I had left the kitchen/ hall door open and Wesley jumped over the ferret gate) and they didn't fight and when I went into the lounge, they were both doing their own thing. Apart from Wesley, I have let Rose, Jasmine, Willow and Tara into the lounge. Rose is so quick and dances around him, he tries to chase her but can't even figure out where she's gone, she's like a whirlwind. ;-) I also got a new girl, Ruby. She only weighs 520g and plays with Tyler. She wasn't scared of him at all when she first met him (and Tyler weighs almost 7 times more than her!) and now they run together and Ruby is as cheeky as Rose. ;-)
Tyler eats a lot of veg and once I didn't have anything defrosted so I quickly defrosted some peas in the microwave (even though I use it as little as possible). When they were done they smelled lovely. Not being a fan of peas I thought must try some, they smell really nice. A week or so later Pete said "You know those peas are minted?" That's why they smelled nice! Tyler likes them and so do the dogs. ;-)
This is Tyler finishing off our dinner ;-)
I thought Tyler deserves an update. He is the bestest skunk ever! :-) He comes for cuddles whenever he's awake and I'm in the living room with him. He likes to go for walks but not on roads, he doesn't like the road surface/ tarmac. But he loves to walk on grass and natural paths. It's no problem to do his claws, either, I do them when he cuddles, I take one foot after the other and clip the claws. No problem. :-) He doesn't dig the carpet and uses his toilets almost 100%. He's very intelligent and knows his name and comes when I call him (to be honest, I think he thinks that "Tyler" means "food"!). The only time he doesn't come is when he is doing something like dig or patrol the garden. He's also become a bit braver when visitors come. When we first had visitors, he'd hide behind the sofa and would be so traumatised that we wouldn't see him all day, to the point where he refused to eat. ;-) Lately he has been coming out to check out visitors (from a distance). A lady came with her Jack Russell dog and Tyler even defended his territory. He ran and stomped at Jack and Jack, who was only checking our place out and is a very friendly, elderly dog, was scared. ;-) I'm glad Tyler wasn't scared of Jack. Or maybe he was scared but at least he didn't run and hide.
These are some nice recent pictures:
Oh, Tyler has done a funny thing a few nights ago. I have the paper shredder at the side of my desk and it was full of paper. Tyler has never shown interest in it. Then that night I heard a lot of banging early morning and I said to Pete that Tyler had been on a rampage. So Pete went downstairs and then came back up, I didn't know if he was laughing or angry. Well, Tyler had the shredder out and had taken all paper out and dragged it across to make a nest behind an armchair, right next to his bed that I gave him (a small red basket like for a small dog or cat, I had 3 small ones for the ferrets travel cages and it had a jacket in for Tyler and he had used it just fine). I took pictures, see below. A few days later he was in his paper bed and was lying on his back! He *never* sleeps on his back, he hates it if you put him on his back. So I took pics of that too. :-) He looks *awfully* fat in the picture where he is lying on his back, he is not *that* bad in reality, yes, he is fat but not that fat. It's just an unfortunate position! ;-)
I just looked at the web page and there's sooo many pictures of him eating corn on the cob! That is not his sole diet! ;-) I just happened to take some nice pictures while he was eating it (and it is one of his favourite foods). At the moment he is on a diet, he gets 110g defrosted veg in the morning, together with 20g low fat bio yoghurt and about 10g oats, a teaspoonful of lecithin and he usually either gets cod liver oil or fish oil on his breakfast, together with vitamin E and vitamin C. Sometimes I add some seeds. At night he gets either another 110g of defrosted veggies or 200g fresh celery and pepper and about 40g of chicken, usually the most bony bits so he gets enough calcium. He also loves day old chicks and poultry hearts and sometimes he gets 20g dry dog food instead of the raw meat. I try to feed different things. He loves scrambled egg, too. But he's very fussy with his veggies. He will not eat fresh veggies. Once (on the advice of a skunk keeper) I didn't give him anything but fresh veggies for a day and he didn't eat so after about 36 hours I gave in and fed him food he liked. But after doing this, he was even more fussy and was a bad eater so I got really worried that something was wrong and I will never again try to force him to eat something he doesn't like. He likes frozen (defrosted) Brussels sprouts, cabbage, peas (ideally the baby peas!), cauliflower, broccoli, broad beans, green beans, sweet corn, and spinach. I once got fresh veggies, prepared them, cut them up, froze them, defrosted them- hoping he would eat them- but he didn't like them... The only fresh food he ate for a long time was celery. Then one day he had a bit of pepper from my sandwich and he ate that and so started eating peppers alongside the celery so now he usually gets 3 meals of defrosted veg and one meal fresh veg (celery and pepper). I do offer him some carrot or other fresh veg regularly but he always leaves it... Maybe one day I will get him to eat a variety of fresh veg... He does like fruit and often gets a bite when I eat an apple, a banana, a pear... And he gets the odd almond for a treat. ;-)
And here are some more pictures of him actually eating meat ;-)
And I can't emphasize enough how dearly I love him, he brings tears to my eyes every single day when he shows me how much he loves me, it's just the way he craves attention and how he *needs* his cuddles, the way he snuggles on my lap or lays his head on my shoulder, the way he sighs or makes these content "munching" noises (like smacking his lips). ;-) He's the bestest skunk in the whole world! :-)
Update 06/03/06 (yeah, a very late update- and also a very long one...)
We almost lost Tyler last Friday night (19th/20th of August 2005)... He goes out in the garden every night after dinner and stays out 2-3 hours. Friday night he was out as usual, at 9 pm I went out to see him and he was playing with me and a dog toy and chasing Poppy. Completely normal and happy. 10 pm he came into the kitchen and looked fine. Then I finished the ferrets, my friend Karoline phoned at 10 and we talked for an hour and I was a bit stressed because it meant I was way behind with my work, finishing late, going to bed late. Usually I would try to be upstairs by 11 to get ready for bed. But Friday I was downstairs at 11 having my toast that I have before bed. Well, it was then that Tyler started to become ill. If Karoline hadn't phoned, I may not have noticed, I would have gone upstairs before he got sick and not known and he could have quite possibly been dead the next morning... Anyway, I finished my toast and thought Tyler was acting strange. So I picked him up as I usually cuddle him after my toast- and he was burning up and shivering. So I immediately wrote to the skunk info list and asked what to do. We measured his temperature which was 38.9 C / 102 F. He deteriorated rapidly so I decided to phone the emergency vets which was just after midnight. So we went to the vets and were lucky as a young vet called Jennie was on call, a new vet. Later we found out that this night was the first time she had emergency 'duty' and when the call came about a sick skunk, she thought it was a practical joke... ;-) Anyway, she measured Tyler's temperature again and it had gone up to 39.4 C / 103 F. So it was important to get the temperature down. On the way to the vets he had started to salivate very bad and at the vets he was too weak to stand up or move even though he desperately tried to climb into my arms. It looked really bad... Jennie got 2 towels and wet them and wrapped Tyler in them. She gave him 100 ml of subcutaneous fluid, Rimadyl to get his temperature down, Baytril for a possible infection and Vetergesic for pain. I think we were there for an hour and Tyler looked like he was near death's door. Jennie was stumped as to what was wrong, it looked like poisoning. She didn't think bacterial food poisoning as that usually causes vomiting and (bloody) diarrhoea. Tyler looked like he'd eaten a poisonous plant or chemicals but he doesn't like vegetables/ plants and only eats bugs, beetles, moths, and worms outside. We also don't use any chemicals on the lawn or in the garden. And all we have in the garden is lawn/ grass (and weeds in the lawn). So no idea what was wrong so we could only treat the symptoms. [Update September 2007- could it have been toxoplasmosis?]
We were home half past 1 or so and Tyler's temperature was down and he'd stopped shivering. He tried to get up and was very restless. He'd stagger a few steps and then lie down exhausted. But he kept doing that, he would not rest and sleep, he wanted to move non-stop. At one point I thought he may need the toilet and I went to pick him up to put him in the litter box but when I touched his tummy, he arched his back and moaned so it seemed he had very bad tummy pain. So I left him alone. I was on the skunk info list writing about him until 3.40 a.m. Then I lied down on the sofa, I wanted to hold Tyler but he didn't want to be held, all he wanted to do was walk around like he knew it would make him better. He was staggering at first and needed to lie down every few steps- but he kept trying to walk. I fell asleep but woke up every 30-45 minutes and every time Tyler was walking around, every time he was a bit stronger. I got up at 6.40 a.m. and he was walking properly, not staggering anymore. He was a bit wobbly but alert and walking pretty normal. Still didn't want to be held, still wanted to walk. But looking at him you would have thought he was okay. Considering how horrible he looked at the vets- literally near death's door- he recovered quickly.
At 8.30 we went back to the vets so Michaela could do tests. He first had 3 x-rays (they had problems trying to find the right setting) and a blood test (chemistry) and an ultrasound scan. Bloods were okay, x-rays had some suspicious areas. The kidneys were odd, in ferrets they're always the same height/ level, like right next to one another. In Tyler the one kidney was up high sort of under the ribcage and the other kidney was below the kidney on the other side. Michaela thought that was odd. The intestines looked strange, Michaela thought he may have an Intussusception, Intussusception is the sliding or telescoping of the intestine within itself. So Michaela did an ultrasound and there was no sign of it. She said she would have definitely seen it on an ultrasound. When Michaela palpated his tummy, it was still tender (painful) but got better.
But at home he was still restless and was walking around and around and just didn't settle down. He's usually fast asleep in the day, he plays some in the morning, has breakfast and then sleeps until evening. He was not very interested in his breakfast (lunch), mixed veg with a bit of low fat bio yoghurt. He had some dog kibble and was hesitant to eat it. He also didn't want to drink. And he'd not had a bowel movement at all. The x-ray had shown that his stomach was pretty empty and so was his intestine and there were some faeces in his rectum. But I thought that they should have come out. So by Saturday night I was getting worried and gave him 2 lots of Petromalt hairball remedy- no poo. He calmed down Saturday night and slept a little with me on the sofa but always wanted to go down and walk again. And then he'd come back and would want lifting onto the sofa. At one point I lifted him up and I was sleeping in a sleeping bag and he likes to sleep inside it by my feet so I let him crawl in and he stayed put on my left leg. I wanted to lie on my side again so I gently pushed him off my leg- and he didn't move. I turned on my torch and couldn't see breathing, my heart about stopped! I pulled his front leg and he pulled it back but no other reaction. So I got up and had a look in his toilets to see if he had had a bowel movement and that's when Tyler came back to life and got up and followed me. I was sooo relieved. But still no poo. So the night continued, Tyler was off and back on the sofa and early morning he decided that he wanted to play so I couldn't sleep after 6.30 and got up and had a shower. Tyler looked a lot better Sunday morning. So good I let him have a run with Spike, Leo and Piper when they came out at 7.30. He was up for at least another hour and then finally had a bowel movement! I dissected it and there was nothing bad in there, nothing hard that could have caused an obstruction. And after this bowel movement he finally settled down and slept. And he was very sleepy for the next few days. It was like he had to walk to fix his digestive tract. Maybe the fever or possible poison paralysed or slowed his digestive tract right down and he had to walk and walk to get it better. And he succeeded. Whatever went on, it passed within approx. 36 hours. He was eating again and drinking, pooping and peeing. Just very tired. No wonder after this ordeal. I am so happy he is okay, on the skunk lists so many people wrote about skunk babies dying and skunks that are just 1 year old or 4 years old and I always thought I hope this never ever happens to Tyler because no words can describe how much I love him. So I was petrified that he could die. I think all the prayers from everybody helped...
Tyler would also not go outside like he was scared to. It was Sunday night when he went back out into the garden...
Tyler has been perfectly fine after his episode of being ill. I read a web page about another skunk, a 3 month old baby with pretty much the same symptoms as Tyler, sudden high fever, shivering etc. but this skunk died. Turned out the skunk had a streptococcus infection. Maybe Tyler had this and survived thanks to the quick treatment from the vets. The skunk that died only got a Baytril injection when the fever started whereas Tyler had Baytril, fluids and Rimadyl to get the fever down. Plus Tyler was older and probably stronger. It all helped. I'm just so glad that he is okay. I have put him on a diet, he gets less food, more meat than before but less veg and no grains. He was in a really foul mood for a few weeks until he adjusted to the diet and he is fine now. He didn't cuddle much at all but he's back to being a cuddly sweet boy now. :-)
Tyler became ill at the beginning of May 2007 and there is a separate write-up about his illness and progression here. Also a lot of pictures of my precious boy. He was put to sleep 10th of March 2008. At the moment I am numb and just don't think about it, I am finding the loss just too difficult to deal with. But I wanted to write about some special and funny moments in Tyler's life. I'll add more as and when I remember them.
Once I was sat out in the garden with Squeaky the cat and Tyler came out, too. I don't know why but skunks seem to have a thing about biting tails. Tyler marched straight towards Squeaky and you could see what was going on in his mind. He got to Squeaky, bit into the tail, and then legged it because he knew that Squeaky wouldn't be happy about this. ;-)
I think I have already mentioned how he used to cuddle with me, he always came up to me, stood up against my leg to be picked up and then he would snuggle on my lap or in my arms for hours. He would hold his head up to me and I would kiss his big nose and mouth. He really liked that. He also liked me gently kissing his ears.
Tyler could also open kitchen cupboard doors. He especially tried to get into the larder unit. Once he managed to get hold of a bag of hazelnuts that were on one of the lower shelves and he probably ate half a bag so 30 - 50 grams... And once he tipped over a bottle of sunflower oil. It had a loose fitting lid so the lid came off and the oil poured all over the floor. Peppy went and sat right in it and Tyler luckily sat by the edge and they were both licking it. It was awful trying to get the oil out of Peppy's coat, Tyler hardly had any on him. They are so mischievous!