Leading article: Scenting trouble

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The Independent Online

Fancy a pet skunk? Perhaps not, but beware of sounding unfashionable by saying so.

Skunks are not quite yet a "must-have" in the pet stakes, but as we report today, they are becoming popular; breeders have reported exceptional levels of interest this year.

Leaving aside well-known problems over their scent glands, it is not hard to see why some people find skunks attractive. Furry, docile, happy to share the home with other animals, not bothered by being left alone, they apparently can get by on dog biscuits. The perfect companion for a busy working person.

For all that, it's hard to imagine the mini-vogue in skunks staying the course. Every so often new pets come into fashion, only to disappear from the scene as fast as they came. Remember when alligators were all the rage in the US? Skunks may be trendy right now, but they will surely go the same way as so many other exotic pets have done before, leaving the field – or, rather, the fireside – to cats and dogs – tried and tested companions of humankind through the centuries.