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The desire to handle a cute and fluffy animal is something that many people will have a natural instinct to do, especially those who have grown up around domestic animals such as dogs. However, skunks are definitely not domesticated animals, and when you do try and get too close and handle the animal, it will let you know exactly what it thinks about that kind of contact. Realistically, it is important to understand that a skunk is a wild animal, and that it is hugely unlikely to react positively to any unnecessary bodily contact.
Should You Handle A Skunk At All?
The ideal situation is that you do not need to handle the skunk at all, as it will often see the person approaching as a threat, and even if it does tolerate you to touch it, then it is likely to be very traumatized by such contact. Unless it is injured and you have to pick it up to get it to someone that can help, or it is a baby animal that has to be moved, then you really should try and avoid handling the skunk.
Bites And Scratches
With sharp teeth and strong sharp front claws that are used for digging through heavy soil, you do not want to be on the wrong end of a bite or a scratch from a skunk, which is another good reason not to handle the animal. The skunk can also carry a range of different diseases, and the biggest concern will be the fact that some skunks can carry rabies, which is certainly not a disease that you want to catch.
A Skunk's Spray
While the foul smelling spray of the skunk is not necessarily harmful, unless it is a pet skunk that has had its anal glands removed, then it can spray you at a distance of up to ten meters. Not only will you not want to handle the skunk to avoid this, it is best to stay at least a few feet away from the animal unless you really have to get close.
In situations where there is no option but to handle the skunk, you certainly shouldn't be using your bare hands, but rather a thick pair of gloves to withstand any bites or swiping claws. It is also worth considering goggles and a mask to protect your face, and sometimes using a snare pole instead of handling the animal is the best option for both yourself and the skunk. For more information, you may want to click on one of these guides that I wrote:
How much does skunk removal cost? - get the lowdown on prices.
How to get rid of skunks - my main skunk removal info guide.