Do Pigpen and Sauerkraut have any favorite enrichment items?
Yes—anything that has food inside! They have also received dig boxes of substrate (ground cover) and colorful ball pits with worms inside.
They spend a lot of time with their enrichment and we feed them their whole diet inside enrichment items twice a day. Usually, they will go around to each enrichment item together rather than splitting up and each taking one. They are quickly mastering all of the different feeders and items we have here at the Small Mammal House.
What do skunks eat?
In the wild, they eat pretty much anything and everything. Their diet mostly consists of insects, eggs, small prey items, roots, berries and seeds. However, they will also go through your garbage and eat just about anything they can get their paws on!
At the Zoo, we feed them an insectivore kibble, fresh vegetables, apples, hard-boiled eggs and live bugs. The bugs, apples, sweet potato and corn kernels are their favorites!
What are you looking forward to most about working with Pigpen and Sauerkraut?
We are looking forward to building their trust and working more closely with them. Since they are still so young, they are pretty unsure about people. That said, they have made a lot of progress in the past few weeks. Now, they will approach us for food. We’re excited to continue to improve our relationships with them!
We are working on the basics of husbandry training with them, too. We start with handfeeding and trust building. Soon, we hope to work on target training, shifting (asking them to come into their holding area and have the door close behind them), crate training and scale training.
All of those behaviors will help them have more choice and control in their day and reduce stress for exhibit cleaning, weighing and medical procedures. We use their favorite items from their diet as a reward and either toss the food at their feet or use tongs to feed them directly.
What do you hope visitors take away from meeting our skunks?
Skunks are considered “backyard wildlife” but most people don’t have the opportunity (for good reason!) to see these animal neighbors up close. At the Zoo, they can do just that by meeting Pigpen and Sauerkraut and watching them go about their day. Visitors can gain an appreciation for these dynamic and adorable animals and learn more about the very important role they play in our ecosystem.