I guess these, with a little work, could be more endearing than woodchucks chucking your w0od.  If Geico incorporates skunks in their commercials, they could be the next big thing...

There are those pet-lovers for whom a cat is too conventional and a mutt simply too mundane.

But it appears they wouldn’t turn up their nose at a skunk.

For, perhaps surprisingly given the black-and-white mammals’ penchant for causing a pong, they are the latest must-have furry friend.

Owners are undeterred by the strong scent the animals can release when threatened, saying they are cleaner than dogs or cats.

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Breeders estimate that there are around 2,000 kept as domestic pets, and demand is increasing.

Katie Sleightholme, 30, allows her skunk, Busby, the run of her home.

She paid £375 for her pet, who is 17in long, and weighs 10lb, but skunks can cost up to £1,500 in a shop.

The mother-of three, who already has two dogs, 13 guinea pigs, three rabbits and two hamsters, says her children Ella, eight, Alfie, five, and 19-month-old Maisie dote on their new pet.

She said: ‘Most nights he will crawl up and sleep on my shoulder and snuggle into my neck.

‘He’s incredibly affectionate and sociable. He follows the kids around when they are playing and even sleeps with the two dogs.

‘We are trying to train him to walk with a lead and harness so we can walk him with the dogs.’

Skunks are omnivores with a natural diet including insects, fruits, nuts,  mice and other small mammals.

Mrs Sleightholme, from the Wirral, feeds Busby chicken, which she tops up with fruit and vegetables.

‘But he will dig into the dog’s dry food if left to his own devices,’ she said.

Breeder Seb Miller, of Bristol, says he sells around 200 skunks a year.

‘If they are trained properly when they are younger then there is no need to worry about them spraying,’ he said.

Mrs Sleightholme agreed, saying: ‘Busby made a stink once and it just smelled slightly of garlic.

'But since we’ve trained him, there have been no problems.

'He has a litter tray and uses that like a cat.

'The dogs make more mess.’

via Mail Online.