What do Mink Eat?
Wild: Mink are carnivorous and take a variety of prey from aquatic and bank-side habitats, hunting mainly at night but also by day.
The European mink is comparatively selective, eating mainly frogs. But American mink are aggressive predators and take a wider range of prey, often attacking animals larger than themselves.
Mostly they eat small mammals such as meadow voles and shrews and they swim and dive underwater to catch fish and crayfish. They are also known to eat birds, eggs, frogs, clams, freshwater mussels, snakes, rats, ground squirrels, salamanders, and a variety of insects. Occasionally, larger males will attack and eat small rabbits or young muskrats, especially during fall when the muskrats are dispersing from their nests and are the most vulnerable to attack. They can catch trout with ease, and have been known to catch a trout up to 1 foot in length. Occasionally, they have been known to catch ducks. They are also known to raid poultry houses.
Their eyesight is not particularly well adapted to underwater vision, and fish are often located from above before the mink dives in pursuit. Mink rely heavily upon sense of smell when foraging for terrestrial prey.
Usually, mink will capture and kill their own food, killing most of the small animals, birds and fish it feeds on by biting them at the base of the skull or the nape of the neck. But the fact that they are attracted to traps by carcasses of birds and other animals suggests that they also feed on carrion.
Domesticated: Mink raised on fur farms are an important means of recycling the waste products from the production of human food. In one year, each animal consumes over a hundred pounds of feed, or more than 20 times its body weight.
Each year Americans alone consume 37 million beef cattle, almost 9 billion chickens, turkeys and other poultry, and over 4 billion pounds of fish and shellfish. Rather than going to waste, these by-products are put to good use, recycled by such businesses as pet food companies, aquariums, zoos, and fur farmers.
Diet will vary depending on the type of livestock agriculture prevalent in a particular region. In Wisconsin, one of America’s leading dairy producers, farmed mink receive a diet based around spent cattle and expired produce such as cheeses. Old chickens and expired eggs are other local food sources ideally suited to mink bearers. A farm located near the ocean, by contrast, will tend to include a lot of fish remains in its diet.
Most fur farmers collect these leftovers themselves, personally visiting chicken farms, packing plants and slaughterhouses around their county. They then mix these ingredients on the farm, carefully measuring the protein, fat and ash content to ensure their animals receive the proper nutrition all year long.
Mink are tricky to raise, with varying nutritional requirements during the growing and reproductive phases of their lives.