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New World Training Center- Bethany's horse training site.


Animals On the Ranch:   ~  South America, Africa   ~  North America   ~   Australia    ~    Asia  ~

North America

Raccoons, North American Porcupine, Black tailed Prairie Dog, Skunk, Silver Fox, Virginia Opossum,


One of our favorite animals on the ranch are the RACCOONS. They are very playful and fun to watch. Because we are a small children's zoo, our raccoons are in a large pen and have a feeding tube where visitors can drop in  food for them. We supplement this diet with vitamins, fruits, vegetables, chicken and fish. They love playing in some water and trying to catch live minnows.

Rocky, our first raccoon and computer whiz.

Contrary to popular belief, raccoons do not "wash" their food. If a water bowl is nearby, they will dunk the food in. This may enhance the flavor, or may just feel good. Their paws are very sensitive to any touch and they will pat and feel around new objects. As they do this, their heads are tilted back and they seem to be looking at anything but what they are feeling. So engrossed in this activity, they almost appear "blind".                                                                                                              This is "Clyde" in his enclosure.

  As we wanted to breed them, we did not have them spayed or neutered. They would have made better pets if we had done so.   Our raccoons were captive-born and came from a breeder.  If you are interested in having a raccoon as a pet, be sure to check the regulations in your state. Be prepared to make a commitment to a raccoon.  They need lots of care and attention, as well as supervision.   If well cared for it is reasonable to expect them to live for 10-15 years, so the commitment is not to be taken lightly.  You need to consider who can look after the raccoon if you must go away, of if something should happen that means you cannot keep the raccoon.  They can't go back to wild living once being used to the pet life! Also find a veterinarian who will treat a raccoon.  Even where raccoons are legal it may be difficult to find a vet who is willing to deal with them.  

There is a lot of information on keeping a pet raccoon other than they are adorable and fun to have around. They are also a lot of work. If you are interested in keeping a raccoon for a pet, be sure your state allows it and what you need to do to keep it legally. Then go to this site: one of the best sites for information on keeping raccoons for pets is: Remo Raccoons Home Page This site has all the info you would need - feeding, raccoon proofing the house, training, etc.

We also have a list of sites on our Favorites page

American Porcupine: (TOP) A native to North America, but not here in West Virginia. Porcupines are active year-round and are primarily nocturnal. They climb trees slowly and deliberately. Surprisingly, they can also fall and about 35% of museum skeletons showed healed fractions! On the ground porcupines have an unhurried waddling walk, relying on their quills for protection. Porcupines are not aggressive, preferring to retreat or ascend a tree rather than confront an enemy. It will chatter  it's teeth as a warning when they are upset. The claws are long and adapted to climbing. The stiff quills of the underside of the tail keeps them from slipping back. 

 The porcupine sports about 30,000 quills (can you imagine counting them??). Contrary to popular opinion, porcupines CANNOT throw their quills.  The quills will rise on the body when the porcupine is either upset or angry.  When forced to fight it will lash out it's tail and drive the quills forcefully into the enemy. The loosely rooted quills detach easily and are driven into the enemies skin where the warmth of the victims own body will cause embedded. The quills have microscopic barbs similar to  a fishing hook, which makes it very difficult to get out. Cutting off the end of the quill releases air pressure and allows it to be withdrawn more easily.

Porcupines mate mainly in October and November, and is quite vocal at this time... making squeaks, grunts, and groans. How do porcupines mate you ask? Very Carefully! 

 Actually, the female becomes very aroused and will relax her quills. before raising her tail over her back. The lifespan of a porcupine is 7 -8 years in the wild, and can weigh up to 40 pounds! Our porcupine ("Quilly") is a very sweet little animal, and will follow my daughter around at feeding time begging for snacks. He eats lots of fruits, vegetables, grain, and tasty twigs Mariann gathers


"Quilleran"  is about 12 weeks old in this picture.  Mariann can carry him around and cuddle with him. Yes, he does have quills and if he gets upset you will know it. However, he loves to be held and snuggled with and when his quills are down, he is soft to touch.


Black-tailed Prairie Dog: (TOP)

Prairie Dogs are no longer legal to have as pets... If you are interested in a pet similar, check out a Richardson's Ground Squirrel...

Usually found in the Western Prairies of the United States, in large prairie dog towns. They are lovable little animals that look very much like a small woodchuck or groundhog. They greet us with a loud "YaHoo!"
Ours eat vegetables, rabbit food, guinea pig food, and popcorn for a snack.
For more information on prairie dogs, and their upkeep go to the
R-Zu-2-U website.

Istus our white Prairie Dog 

                                                                               This is "Prissie"


Virginia Opossum: (TOP) is the only North American animal that has a pouch (marsupial) who's young are born in an embryonic state and then complete their development in the mothers pouch. By attaching itself on the mother's nipples. If there are more than 13 babies than the extras will not find a nipple and will perish. They are nocturnal and can climb well. They do not hibernate in the winter. It's diet includes insects, frogs, birds, snakes, small mammals, earthworms, and berries. Plus fruits, and vegetables.
They will scent-mark during the breeding season, licking themselves and rubbing the sides of their heads against tree trunks or other objects.

SILVER FOX: (TOP)The silver fox is genetically the same as a red fox, but with different colors. Ours are both black and pearl in color. The tip of their tail is white.
They are more cat-like in their behavior... jumping on fences and walking as a cat would. Our enclosure has a top, and we've seen them actually climb across the top upside-down!  They are sweet little animals, recognizing their name and coming when they are called.  However, they are still wild in instinctive behavior... catching and killing small animals and birds (our chickens if they get out of their pen!).
They eat a variety of foods in the wild, and here on the Ranch they get dog food, fruits and vegetable, with some snacks of venison, chicken, and table scraps!
They have about 4-6 young, although there have been as many as 10 in a litter. The fox emits an odor reminiscent of a skunk.

This is Lucifer. He is all white, except for the red flame color on his ears and face. He is a "red flame marble" fox.

Fosskers is pearl in color.  He loves to spend time with us and our dogs, but he isn't as tame as some of our other foxes have been. So he looks longingly at us through the wires of his enclosure... *sigh*




Skunks are no longer legal in WV... to learn more about what you can do click here.

 (TOP) Our skunks have been some of the most enjoyable animals we have raised. Pansy sleeps in my daughter's bed with her. She is quite cuddly! There is a lot of information out there on the raising of  skunks.  The basic thing to remember is to be sure to have them spayed or neutered so they don't go through PMS ...Pretty Mad Skunk! They will turn very aggressive then. However, spaying and neutering helps.

   Also, no matter how much you love your skunks, don't let friends or strangers come up and pet your skunk. One false move and a little nip here and they will be screaming "Rabies!" with no reason.  (See the Aspen Skunk Rabies Research site)
Skunks also have sensitive stomachs and none of ours can tolerate dry dog food... it causes seizures... but they do well on fruits, vegetables, dairy products, table scraps... and we have never had an obese skunk!

Skunks do not have a sense of where "home" is, so if they wander off, they will continue to wander and never come home! We are training our lab to follow the scent in case we lose one!

Skunks can live for as long as a dog, and even longer... these pets are not something to get without a commitment. They love their owners. Our skunk, Pansy got out of her cage once and we looked for her for an hour. When my youngest daughter found her, Pansy came running, until she realized the voice did not belong to her owner, my older daughter! Then she turned as if to spray, and stomped her front paws. She tried to bite. When Bethany came and picked her up, she snuggled her face into the crook of Bethany's elbow and calmed down.

Domesticated skunks come in different colors: Black classic (black and white,) Black chip, black silverback, black swirl, Chocolate classic,  (chocolate and white) chocolate swirl, chocolate chip, chocolate silverback, albino, dark-eyed white, apricot, champagne, mahogany, and smoke.

If you want a skunk for a pet, remember:  2 females are ok together, but not 2 males. 

Vitamins: felo-bit

A good diet for a skunk can be:   1/2 slice of bread,  4 pieces of high quality dog food, 1/2 cup of veggies, and 2-3 grapes.

Skunks can eat the following: chicken, tuna, pintos with rice, cottage cheese, yogurt, shredded wheat, cheerios, popcorn, dog biscuits,  cooked potatoes, apple, avocado, turnips, zucchini, boiled egg, tomatoes, squash, peas, rhubarb, radish, rutabaga, spinach, bananas, cantaloupe, coconut, grapes, kiwi, pears, orange, peaches, nectarine, bok choy, persimmons, pineapple, prunes, raisins, artichokes, strawberries, beans, asparagus, beets, tangerines, broccoli, watermelon, cress, brussel sprouts, corn, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucumbers, mushrooms, peppers, parsley, and parsnips

Just give them foods in moderation

So you want a pet skunk? Find out if they are legal in your state on my favorite skunk links page

More links on my Favorite Skunk Link page

This is Bethany and
Pansy napping after   


Bethany and Violet


Twenty-five years ago a senator in Dayton, OH proposed legislation to ban all
exotic and considered "wild animal" pets included were animals native to
Ohio, who had been raised domestically and purchased from licensed breeders, both
in state and out of state. The ban would have enveloped reptiles birds mammals
and hybrids, etc.

There was to be no grandfather clause for anyone owning
these animals prior to the passage of this intended bill. People from Ohio
rallied en mass, from all areas. Pet stores, breeders, vets, local government reps
as well as distraught owners. The domestic skunk was also caught in this
legislative dragnet.

A hotline was set up at the state capital in Columbus, OH to
receive the comments from all areas, including the general public. Their
response statewide was overwhelming. I personal destroyed an electric typewriter from
extensive usage.

Owner's called their representatives, people with all kinds
of animals joined ranks, life was hectic and unpleasant for both sides. At
that time, several of us had joined an organization (P. I. J. A. C. ) Pet
Industry Joint Advisory Council.
This organization monitors unfair legislation in the
pet industry, breeders, and owners. They place representatives on the house
Floors to represent the above interest. Their membership dues are based on
breeders, pet store owners, manufacturer of pet supplies, and hobbyists (private
owners). After twenty-five years, I was surprised to see that they are still at

I have spoke to PIJAC legislative director about the issues involving
ownership of domestic skunks as well as other animal companions. He asked me to
pass this invitation on to you to speak personally to him about the issues at
hand involving skunks as well as other pets you might own. Mainly the domestic
skunk needs to have a show of hands to indicate to Mr. Michael Maddox,
legislative director for PIJAC, that there are many more concerned owners beside
myself willing to fight to keep their ownership privilege.

 Yes, it will take some money. Pet owners membership is $35/year. Organizations should contact PIJAC
for rates as should breeders and pet store owners. You receive all incoming
bulletins and alerts on unfavorable legislation. There are NO guarantees that
PIJAC can change the minds of unchangeable, uninformed people who are loose
cannons on animal legislation. But I think any legislative representative on these
house Floors speaking for pet owners is one more voice for the domestic skunk.
Let's get going now, while we can get a head start on any underlying problems
in the foreseeable future.

You may contact legislative director for PIJAC,
Mr. Michael Maddox, ph# 1-202-452-1525 or email him at: mmaddox@pijac.org  or
write: Attn: M. Maddox, 1220 Nineteenth St., Northwest Washington D.C., 20036
PS - use your own best judgment on this matter, share your thoughts and
information with Mr. Maddox, if you choose.
There is also a nationwide effort of skunk supporters to begin en mass to
email pet stores, and pet related manufacturers, to ask them why they do not
include skunk books, tapes and other skunk related items, as owners of skunks
purchase pet carriers, leashes and harnesses, pet bowls, kitty litter, etc.... at
their stores. The domestic skunk needs all the recognition he can get. Here is
your chance to speak and act on behalf of the domestic skunk. I personally
have spent hundreds of dollars at PetsMart on pet photography sessions, and they
will not consider my book on the domestic skunk.   I just wanted to let your
organizations become aware of the possibility for your individual cause
concerning the domestic skunk.
Thank you for your time!
Cody Hildebrand
(skunk stripes)


Favorite Animal Links

 PET SHOPS ON-LINE First they Came for the Cows: In 2006 a USDA mandate called National Animal Identification System (NAIS) came to the attention of a middle-aged homesteader in NW Vermont and she finds herself thrown into the role of a reluctant activist. First They Came for the Cows is a fictionalized account of her experience. Some churches are using First They Came for the Cows for their book clubs. Good Christian fiction can be hard to come by, you know

PLEASE HELP PROTECT THE RIGHTS OF WV ANIMAL OWNERS   It is our duty as citizens (local, WV and U.S.) to know the laws. It's time to spread the word to the WV animal owning population that there are people out there trying to create laws that have the potential to affect every aspect of all animal ownership. Please join our group, and help preserve your right to keep animals!

If you are interested in owning any exotic baby, please remember that the Animal Rights activists are not your friend. You should join groups in your state - or go to Exotic Law for more info on where to go for information




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