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What do Mink do all Day?

Wild Mink: Mostly nocturnal, mink remain active year-round. Except when breeding or raising young, males and females select individual home territories which they mark with their scent glands and defend actively. Once a territory is established, most activity is restricted to within in.

Denning sites are often close to water in well-maintained bank burrows abandoned by or stolen from muskrats or beavers. Other choices can include spaces under large exposed tree roots, beaver lodges, muskrat houses and hollowed-out stumps or fallen logs.

Males usually range over far larger areas than females, and often use two or more dens throughout their territory. A male mink may occupy as much as 2.5 miles of stream habitat or about 2,500 acres in wetland habitat. An adult female generally travels less and occupies about one mile of stream habitat or about 40 acres in wetland habitat.

A male increases its movement greatly during the breeding season and defends its territory against other males, although the males’ home ranges sometimes overlap. A male may use several dens within its range and different males may use the same den at different times.

A female defends her territory against other females and may even defend it against males at certain times of the year. She usually has one or two dens and is the only one to use them. Juveniles that have recently left the family group often use several dens until they establish their own home range, which are usually smaller than those of older mink.

While a mink may be active all day long, it is most active from dusk to dawn. It is active year-round although it may remain in its den for a day or two during severe winter weather. A mink usually lives alone except during the breeding season and when young mink live with the family group until they are old enough to claim their own territories. The mink marks its territory and advertises its presence by depositing droppings and leaving its scent in prominent locations such as on flat rocks and logs.

Mink are semi-aquatic and can dive to a depth of 16 feet using their partially webbed feet for propulsion. They are also good climbers.

Startled mink may squeal, hiss or snarl, and release a scent similar to, but far weaker than, skunk, that can be smelled up to 10 feet away. The scent dissipates much faster than skunk, and is far less penetrative. This scent is also used as a marker to advertise their presence to other mink.

Mink as Pets:  In the US, mink cannot be taken from the wild without a permit from the state authorities.

Adult mink are bold, ferocious and virtually untameable, but if they are taken as kits they are playful and can become attached to the person who cares for them.

But they still don’t make good pets. While dogs and cats have been selectively bred for pet-quality traits over thousands of years, domesticated mink are livestock that have been bred for life on a farm.

While some farmers have selectively bred mink for tameness and can handle them without gloves, they still retain their aggressive traits. Mink have very sharp teeth and claws and can inflict nasty injuries on their handlers. They are also carnivorous and so need a high protein diet. Given the chance, mink will eat your pet guinea pigs, rabbits and goldfish.

If ferret-like pets are what interest you, consider a ferret (if ownership is legal in your state). Ferrets have been raised for pet quality for thousands of years. That said, they are still not for everyone. Dogs and cats are infinitely better choices for the average person. But always be cautious with any animal. A thousand Americans a day are treated in emergency rooms for dog bites, mostly children bitten in the face.


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