If you’re here, the chances are that you have considered domesticating a mink. While that may appear like a good decision, several things must be considered.
This article examines everything you need to know before domesticating a mink, starting with knowing what they are and how they function.
What Is a Mink?
Minks are animals with long, slender bodies, short legs, sharp snouts, and claws. These silky animals are relatives of ermines, ferrets, and weasels, and they resemble them. Not to mention, their fur is also quite valuable.
Many mistake minks for ferrets since they belong to the weasel (Mustelid) family. But minks and ferrets are two entirely different creatures.
What Is the Distinction Between a Ferret and a Mink?
Often, people mistake a Ferret for a Mink, especially because of how they look or function. While it is clear that these two share certain similarities, they are not entirely the same. Certain features can help differentiate a Ferret from a Mink.
The Mustelid family includes both mink and ferrets. This family sometimes referred to as “weasels,” has more than 50 species that are all-natural carnivores. Badgers, ferrets, martens, mink, and otters are some of the most well-known Mustelidae species. Mustelids are predatory, and feeding them anything other than a carnivorous diet will eventually kill them.
The fur of a mink differs from that of a ferret, arguably the most noticeable distinction. Minks have thick, smooth, and velvety fur, which has led to the vast breeding for their fur. Unfortunately, their exquisite fur is sought after for pleasures varying from mink coats to mink hair and artificial eyelashes. On the other hand, a ferret’s fur is gritty, not thick, lacks sheen, and isn’t bred for its fur.
Temperament is another significant distinction between ferrets and minks. Minks and other species of the mustelid family are abrasive and will almost certainly result in bleeding fingers if handled. Ferrets are docile, rendering them the only genuinely tamed species in the Mustelidae family. While there is a dislike of handling by minks, they adore playing in the water.
Minks spend more than half of their lives in the water, and amphibians, crayfish, and fish provide their protein. However, Ferrets can swim but tend to remain on land, where they eat small animals and rodents.
What Are the Different Species of a Mink?
The American Mink and the European Mink are the only two extant mink species on Earth. The Sea Mink, a third species, became extinct in the 1860s.
American Minks (Neovison vison) reside in a large region that runs from coast to coast throughout North America. Minks survive in much of northern Canada, except for a few Arctic Circle islands. Their range terminates over the Desert Southwest area in the south.
The American Mink has been incorporated into ecosystems worldwide to improve fur output. Several minks escaped and established themselves as full-fledged reproductive colonies in the wild. As a result, they are easy to find across the British Isles, Europe, Iceland, and South America’s Patagonia areas.
European minks (Mustela lutreola) are tiny predators. They previously roamed the whole European continent but now only exist as dispersed populations in a few isolated pockets. However, because of the drastic shift in its people and distribution, it is one of Europe’s most threatened species.
Researchers located these mink species throughout Europe. But numbers have plummeted to the point that it’s probably extinct in most formerly occupied regions. Although, a few are in Ukraine, Russian Federation, Romania, Spain, and France. This species flourishes on the banks of freshwater rivers, streams, and lakes thickly forested.
Where Is the Habitat of Minks?
Minks are territorial carnivores. They like to stake out a riverbank or creekside burrow, where they may hunt aquatic creatures during spring and summer. Then, they go inland in the winter to seek different prey.
Human activity may also influence a mink’s choice of habitat. They’ll often stay close to poultry farms or artificial ponds from which they can get a meal regularly. Minks don’t stay in the same shelter for very long.
Minks love lush foliage because it provides many shelters while they do their daily duties. Minks prefer to live in wooded regions, marshes, and other sites that offer similar refuge because of this preference.
You’ll need a substantial cage for your mink. Even young mink may tear through some metals with their strong teeth. Therefore, both an interior and an outdoor enclosure should be present. For example, the inside section could measure 60″ x 48″ x 24″ and be composed of stainless steel with acrylic windows.
Consider a mink’s surroundings in a zoo while constructing a habitat. Then, move with that approach. Minks living in close quarters without exposure to water will get anxious and roam their cage. This attitude is in an attempt to satisfy their high-energy urge.
Getting a substantial outdoor cage for your mink is the most incredible thing you can do for them! This spacious, durable cage is vital for mink’s well-being since they have a lot of energy.
What Do Minks Feed On?
Mink are obligate carnivores that will only consume meat. Mink food comes in kibble form, low in carbohydrates and high in protein. Supplementing your mink’s kibble diet with raw meats provides several advantages for your mink, including stimulation, teeth health, and nutrition.
Minks are skilled predators who bite their enormous prey in the neck. They eat only freshly killed animals; birds, rodents, muskrats, and reptiles are among the animals they hunt. As a result, they may be a nuisance for property managers, animal owners, and residents. Minks have been exceptionally costly and bothersome for poultry farmers and homeowners with fish ponds.
While you might not be able to purchase mink food, you may offer a high-protein ferret meal to your minks. Raw flesh and animal bone such as fish, poultry, or deer, on the other hand, should be significantly supplemented. They are fed a high-protein diet to keep them healthy. Although, this diet can make them aggressive due to its high animal fat content.
General Behaviors of Minks
Minks are nocturnal carnivores who kill when the opportunity arises. Because minks do not hibernate, they must forage for food all year. During extreme winter conditions, they may spend days in their habitat.
Minks will occasionally burrow in their den if it is necessary. However, they frequently assume a deserted muskrat burrow or beaver’s cave during the spring and summer. They prefer wooded caves formerly used by rabbits or woodchucks in the winter.
Minks can swim quite well. They have partly webbed toes to assist them in paddling over marshes, streams, rivers, and lakes. They can even swim to depths of several feet. Unfortunately, fish, frogs, and crayfish are among the weak prey they obtain owing to their dexterous swimming.
When scared or threatened, minks, like skunks, can spray foul-smelling fluids from their anal glands. However, minks are incapable of directing their spray and hiss in addition to this menacing behavior. Instead, minks utilize their smell to identify their territory and are a protective spray.
They may be violent and stinky when threatened, but they also have a unique, pleasant demeanor. For example, when minks are happy, they emit a purring sound similar to cats.
What Adaptive Features Do Minks Have?
The mink thrives in a semi-aquatic environment. This nature means they spend some time in the water and on land. They search for most of their food along the water’s edge and reside in rivers or lakes. Therefore, they have the physical qualities to support this lifestyle.
Webbed feet indicate a coat of skin or membrane that separates the animal’s toes. The web adds resistance to the animal’s feet, allowing them to push extra water behind them. These feet enhance the speed with which the mink glides through the water while reducing the required work.
The webbed feet of the mink help them glide through the water without devoting much energy. They also have a moisture-repellent coat, can swim up to 50 feet, and are rarely spotted over 100 feet away from water.
Water repellent coat
The mink’s coat is another factor influencing the animal’s exceptional swimming abilities. Its coat is covered with a water-repellent protective oil. This adaptation keeps the mink from being soaked. It also simplifies swimming at high speeds and makes the transfer from water to land pleasant.
Mink is a territorial species. A male mink will not tolerate another male in his territory, but female minks appear less aggressive. Male and female animals’ territories are generally separate. However, in rare situations, a female’s territory may overlap that of a male.
It’s not uncommon to be entirely within a male’s grasp. Long and narrow, the territories spread along stream banks or around the borders of lakes or wetlands. Additionally, regions vary in size. Although they can be several miles long, female areas are more subtle than that of males.
While minks raised from birth may initially calmly interact with you, they rapidly lose their cuteness; and begin to bite anything with their needle-sharp teeth. Think again if you assume a pet mink would be as peaceful as a ferret. Be prepared for a bloodbath if you decide to handle your pet mink. Minks can even pierce thick gloves with their teeth, cling, and be unwilling to let go, causing injuries.
The Lifecycle of Minks
Minks are energetic all year; as such, they may be a nuisance for property owners. However, other than during the mating period, which runs from February to April, these opportunistic predators are usually solitary creatures. Pregnant female minks line their home with fur, feathers, and dried plants to create a nest during this time.
American Minks usually have a single litter of two to ten offspring in late springtime or early summer. Their kits are born bare and blind; therefore, they stay in the nest till they are weaned. Then they begin to hunt after eight weeks of birth. The young minks will venture off to discover their territory in the fall after being born.
On average, wild minks live for 3-4 years, whereas domesticated minks can survive for ten years. By one year (after birth), female minks are fully developed. On the other hand, male minks take a little longer to mature, attaining maturity at around 18 months.
What Ways Do Minks Cause Damage?
Minks cause minor damage to property where they hunt because they frequently use places other animals have deserted. But instead, it’s their hunting ability that irritates people the most. For example, they have been known to deplete koi ponds of all their fish on many nights. They also will frequently visit farms dedicated to poultry for quick meals.
Minks can be detected in a variety of methods, including:
Small animal trail
Minks leave tiny, kitten-like trails. They may be seen heading up to areas where caged animals are kept.
Dead/missing chickens and other caged birds
Minks kill far more than they can consume in a night, frequently wiping out an entire flock. When food is abundant, they tend to get a little wild. The remnants may be neatly lined up in a row by morning.
Minks frequently leave numerous bits after a feeding frenzy. Furthermore, unlike many other animals that drag off and swallow the entire meal, they don’t devour prey as a whole. Sometimes, minks eat chicken heads or puncture their necks to consume their blood.
Other dead creatures
A cut on the back of the skull is commonly used to identify mink-killed prey. Look for tightly-packed pairs of canine bite imprints to prove a mink kill.
Do Minks Take Vaccinations?
Minks receive two types of vaccinations yearly: the mink distemper vaccine and the mink enteritis vaccine. Before domesticating a mink, be sure to have easy access to a veterinarian. Your veterinary doctor should specialize in exotic animals and can provide these immunizations.
Interesting Facts About Minks
- The color of mink fur fluctuates throughout the year. It has a denser and softer winter coat. But the summer fur is thinner and sparser than winter fur.
- They are seldom preyed on by several animals because minks are intelligent and stealthy. Even yet, minks are occasionally eaten by big predators and birds of prey. Snakes can also prey on infant minks.
- Tame American Minks demonstrated superior rat-catchers than terriers in the late 1800s.
- Because of the growing demand for mink’s silky, luscious fur, American Minks have been raised on farms for over a century.
Minks are cute and can be a source of income. Domesticating a mink comes with several duties. You must budget for the additional costs of raw feed, a great cage, and exotic vet expenditures. You should also anticipate that your mink will dislike being held. Know that just because your mink doesn’t enjoy being held doesn’t imply they don’t like you!