Young Guinness not one to kick up stink

PUBLISHED: 15:01 13 November 2008 | UPDATED: 12:14 03 July 2010

REPUTATION: Michelle Caunt with her pet skunk, Guinness.

REPUTATION: Michelle Caunt with her pet skunk, Guinness.

Miles Jermy

WE are known as a nation of animal lovers, but many of us would turn up our noses at giving house room to a skunk. However, according to Michelle Caunt they make perfect and not at all pungent pets.

WE are known as a nation of animal lovers, but many of us would turn up our noses at giving house room to a skunk. However, according to Michelle Caunt they make perfect and not at all pungent pets.

Great Yarmouth hotel owner Michelle's skunk Guinness has settled in perfectly since arriving in the family home.

He has become a popular attraction with guests at the Corner House Hotel in Albert Square that Michelle runs with husband Len.

The animal's reputation for being smelly is totally undeserved according to Michelle who has been fascinated with skunks since she was a child.

“The only time they squirt a gland excretion in extreme cases as a defence mechanism if they are attacked. Skunks tend to stand on their legs or run away if they feel threatened,” she said.

“We let him have the run of the flat upstairs and bring him down to the bar where he is very popular with guests. People come here to see Guinness and have their photo taken with him.

“I take him for a walk on the beach on a lead and harness and get some funny looks from passers-by. They can put on weight quite easily and need the exercise.”

“I have wanted a skunk since I was a little girl; I suppose it was the markings that I liked. The first time I saw one was probably at London Zoo when I was a child. Guinness gave me a nip when I didn't handle him properly, they need to be lifted up by the tail.”

Guinness was given is name because of his vibrant black and white colouring and has a distinctive fan tail. Now six months old, he was bred in captivity in Gloucester from a family of Canadian skunks.

Michelle and Len visited an American Skunk Society sanctuary in Florida last year before deciding to adopt one as a pet.

Starting on a diet of scrambled egg and frozen vegetables, Guinness now enjoys fresh fruit, vitamins and protein supplements.

“Guinness was about the size of a tea cup when we first got him. He is about five times bigger now and still has a couple of inches to grow,” said Michelle.

“He is quite a livewire, he can open doors and does a dance if you stamp on the floor, pet skunks are more affectionate than cats and more entertaining than dogs.

“They are very popular pet in America although some states ban them from being kept as pets because they are classed as wild animals. There are even skunk shows there where they are judged like dogs and cats.

“Len is really smitten with Guinness and my daughters love him too even though they told me I was mad to want a skunk. But our two dogs are not so keen and leave the room when he is there.”

Skunk facts

Skunks have poor eyesight and rely mainly on their sense of smell.

Domestic skunks can live up to 22 years although 10 to 12 is more average.

Skunks are best known for spraying a foul smelling oily liquid from tail glands as defence against predators.

A skunk's scent bomb can travel as far as 10 feet.

Native Americans are believed to have kept skunks as pets.

Skunks usually nest in burrows constructed by other animals, but they also live in hollow logs or even abandoned buildings.

They are omnivores, eating both plants and animals.

Nearly all skunks live in the wild in the Americas, apart from the Asian stink badgers that have recently been added to the skunk family.

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