Is it safe to handle a skunk with bare hands?

Most animal rehabilitators recommend that when you are transferring skunks you do so using cardboard boxes, and if that is not possible, to transfer them using cages. If you come across a sick skunk, it can still pose some dangers to you. If you touch a dead skunk, you may be exposed to rabies and other infections that are associated with skunks. The blood, saliva and the neutral tissue from the skunk cam actually transmit rabies to humans, especially in situations where the human has wounds and cuts on the hands.

It is sometimes impossible to tell whether a skunk has the rabies symptoms regardless of whether it is dead or alive. It is therefore very important to wear some form of protection before you start handling the animal. The main way you can tell that the skunk has rabies is by testing the brain in a laboratory. Even in a dead state, the skunks can still have rabies in their saliva and blood. The live skunk can transmit the disease via bites and scratches.

It is important that you give wild skunks some space and avoid handling them with your bare hands. Each year, many cases of rabies are reported and most infections occur by simply coming into contact with skunks. Most of the infections are transferred via the skunk’s saliva, neutral tissue and blood.

If you choose to raise the skunks as your pets, you need to make sure that they get tested every 6 months just to be safe. This is because there are infections that appear very late and some of the skunks don’t even show any signs of infection. Any kind of skunk, regardless of how old or young, should never be handled with your bare hands. There are skunks that move from the dens and they may not be able to cope with the rabies effects as well as other kinds of infections that are within the bloodstream.

Apart from the protective gloves that you need to wear, it is important that you keep all the stray animals that you have caught in the safety of traps, or in a cage or box after they are caught. When you feed the skunk, protect your own skin because the animal can become very aggressive. You should also avoid feeding the skunk until such a time that it has been taken to a rehabilitator.

Go back to the How to Get Rid of Skunks page or email us if you have any other questions about Is it safe to handle a skunk with bare hands?