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The truth about mink as pets

ferrets, badgers, otters, weasels, martens, wolverines etc

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Minkenry
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The truth about mink as pets

Postby Minkenry » Fri Dec 21, 2012 6:25 pm

Chapter 1

The Misunderstood Mink

The most common misconception about mink is spread by mink farmers and naturalists who know a lot about mink, but don’t know how or have never tried to tame a mink. They claim that mink are vicious, untamable creatures. Highly aggressive? Yes. Untamable? FAR FROM IT! I have tamed male mink, female mink, old mink, young mink, black, brown and gray mink, mink from fur farms, and mink from the wild. To give you an example of how completely mink can be tamed, let me use the two mink I have right now as examples. I have two female ranch mink, both of which were captured or bought as adults, and both of which I handle without gloves. Not only that, I even feed them raw meat out of my bare hands without worrying about being bitten. They will literally lick the blood off of my fingers without hurting me. I let them ride on my shoulder, climb under my shirt or coat, I can grab them by the tail to catch them if they try to run somewhere I don’t want them to, and I even let carefully supervised children and strangers hold these mink without mishap.

The misconception on the opposite side of the spectrum comes from people who know little to nothing about mink, and wild animals in general. Many of these people have had pet ferrets and ignorantly assume that all long skinny mustelids must be “just like ferrets”. I literally want to puke every time I hear that! “They’re just like ferrets!” :chair: Every person who knows nothing about wild animals says that whenever they see a mink and it drives me nuts! NO MINK ARE NOT LIKE FERRETS!!! And neither are ANY of the wild mustelids, including their wild ancestor the polecat! Ferrets are DOMESTIC. Mink, otters, weasels, martens, polecats, and every other mustelid species out there are WILD ANIMALS. Saying a mink is just like a ferret is much like saying a house cat is just like a bob cat, or a wolf is just like a dog. For those who haven’t learned this yet THERE IS A HUGE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WILD AND DOMESIC ANIMALS!!!

Some mink are hard to tame, some seem to tame themselves. Each mink is an individual, and like Forest Gump’s Mama always said about life and boxes of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get. Just about everything I say about mink has an exception somewhere out there. I guarantee you that somewhere there is a mink that is impossible to tame. I also guarantee you that there are mink out there that are born tamer and sweeter than any ferret alive. Each mink has its own VERY DESTINCT personality. I had a ranch mink I named Murray that was afraid of water and hated getting wet. This same mink had no fear of me from the first day I found her wandering around in a hay field, and never bit me once despite the fact that I found her as an older adult. Murray was also about as dumb as a ferret (no offence ferret people, but compared to mink, ferrets are not very smart). On the other extreme I had another ranch mink that was also acquired as an escaped adult, but she was totally OBSESSED with swimming! She literally swam all day long! She also was very fearful of humans and bit like crazy, sinking her long canines right through my double layered welding gloves! So each mink you get will be different, regardless of their age or background.
Last edited by Minkenry on Fri Dec 21, 2012 7:02 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: The truth about mink as pets

Postby Minkenry » Fri Dec 21, 2012 6:51 pm

Chapter 2

How I first became interested in having mink as pets


Now let me tell you my story about how I first became interested in mink. I became interested in mink when I moved near several mink farms in Lehi Utah, during my last year of high school. This was the first time I was introduced to mink. When I moved to Lehi I knew nothing about mink, and I was told by everyone around town that mink were wild, vicious, and impossible to tame. I had experience taming and training wild hawks and falcons as a falconer, and wild horses as a horse trainer, so I decided to try to do the "impossible" and tame a mink.

One day while walking through a hay field I found my first escaped ranch mink. She was an older adult female ranch mink of the Blue Iris color variety. I captured her, took her home and successfully tamed her to the point where I no longer needed gloves(I honestly doubt that I ever needed gloves with Murray).

After taming Murray, I was then told that the blue mink were the tamest of all mink, and that if I tried the same thing with a black mink it wouldn't work. Sadly Murray got sick and died one day. She seemed quite old when I got her, and being a Blue Iris color variety she had a weaker immune system than the naturally colored black and brown mink do. Most mink color mutations are more sickly than the natural colored brown and black mink. Though when I say sickly, just about every mink color variety is healthier than most lines of ferrets.

So after Murray died, I wanted to try to get my hands on a black mink, so I could once again prove people wrong about the “vicious untamable” mink. One day, soon after losing my first mink Murray, my neighbor called me because there was a black female ranch mink in their garage and they wanted me to catch it for them. This mink was totally crazy, so I named her Taz. Taz never really warmed up to me, but I didn't put much time into her ether because I was busy with other things at the time. I also made some mistakes with Taz that really made her dislike me even more than she would have. I made the same mistake that mink farmers make, which is to try to forcefully hold a mink still. This makes them extremely angry. I decided that I would try a different taming method on Taz than the one I’d done with Murray, and this new method was a total failure! The first thing I did when I got Taz was I held her still while I forcefully put a harness on her. I then tried to hold her on my glove the same way you do a falcon by holding onto the leash so she couldn’t jump down and try to run away. This did nothing but make Taz furious, and her natural fear and hatred of me grew even deeper!

Then one day I found some farm boys poking sticks at something in a wood pile. I asked them what they were doing and they said, "Trying to kill a mink." I asked the boys how they would feel if a big monster poked sticks at them, and told them to go away and be nicer to animals. Then I went home and got a cage trap, and caught the mink, knowing that if I didn't the boys would just come back later to torture the poor animal. This one was a pure black male. He was an adult in early summer, so he must have been kept as a breeder on a mink farm before his escape, and I could see why as he was ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS! He was quite small for a male, but he was a PURE shiny black without a spot of white on him (Most mink have a white spot on their chin, neck, or bellybutton area, but mink farmers don't like it, so they try to breed the white spots out of them so their pelt has a uniform color making it worth more money). I was so impressed with his beauty that I took him home to replace Taz, since she still hated me anyway.

I named this mink Rascal and I tamed him the same way I did Murray. After my failure with Taz, I realized that I should go back to the way I originally tamed my first mink. Up until this point I thought mink were kind of cool, but Rascal was the one who made me FALL IN LOVE with mink. Up until this point I had NO IDEA how smart and fun loving mink really were. My first two escaped ranch mink were quite boring, but this beautiful boy was like a little raccoon! Everything was a toy to him. He was so fun loving and cute, I just fell in love with mink after having Rascal as a pet. Thus began my love for keeping mink as pets.
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Re: The truth about mink as pets

Postby Minkenry » Sat Dec 22, 2012 3:11 am

Chapter 3

The difference between ferrets and mink


Since everyone who’s never had a mink always want to compare ferrets and mink, I’m going to focus this chapter on the differences between ferrets and mink. The number one difference between the two animals is the pure intensity of a mink. Mink are EXTREMELY intense and they take everything they do to the extreme. They seriously have to be one of the most stubborn animals alive! When they decide they want to do something, WATCH OUT because they will find a way to do it! If they decide they don’t want to do something, it can be very difficult to get them to do it.

Both ferrets and mink can be escape artists, but mink take it to a whole new level! Mink are constantly getting into, or out of places you thought for sure were mink proof. I keep my Mahogany mink Missy in a large enclosure with slick walls, so they can’t be climbed, and are 4’ tall so they are too tall for a mink to jump out of. A couple months ago Missy found a spot in the wall that stuck out 1/2” from the wall. She jumped up to that little spot, pulled herself up, and jumped again, thus reaching the top of the wall and escaping this “mink proof” enclosure. Then while running around the yard she found my cage of feeder rats. She chewed straight through the cage made of ¼” wire mesh and killed the 25 rats found inside! Even the most intense of ferrets would have trouble doing ANY ONE of those feats, let alone all three! Here’s a video of the enclosure Missy escaped out of, and how she escaped.

http://youtu.be/O0TYG82jzl8

Ferrets have trouble killing one or two rats, let alone 25!!! I’ve seen pictures of ferrets that were used for ratting that have their faces all chewed up from killing rats, and I have yet to find a single mark on any of my mink from hunting rats. Even the big rock squirrels and 2-4 pound muskrats we hunt haven’t done any visible damage to our pet mink. And yet ferrets that are used for hunting skinny little brown rats that weigh less than a pound come back with bites on a regular basis. In fact, from what I’ve been told, ferrets can’t be used for ratting for more than a few hunts before the ferrets become afraid of the rats. Funny thing is, brown rats are actually what we use to start our young mink on before we move to bigger game like muskrats.

Another difference between mink and ferrets is the strength, speed, and endurance of a mink. Mink can jump higher, climb better, run faster, and keep going longer than any ferret alive! Their strength and endurance is AMAZING! Along with this strength also comes pure jaw power! I’ve had many mink bite me through a double layered welding glove! In fact I am of the opinion that there is no such thing as a usable glove that is mink proof. If the glove is thick enough to completely protect you from the bite, then it is also too thick to allow you to use your hand. I’ve seen mink bite the back of a rabbit’s head so hard that it’s eyeballs pop out! Now remember, a rabbit’s head is 2-3 times the size of a mink’s! When we pick up a rat or squirrel that our mink have killed, it is common for the skull to be so smashed by the mink’s jaws that it feels as if someone hit the poor animal over the head with a hammer!

Another difference between mink and ferrets is their intelligence. I had a couple ferrets before I ever got into mink, and I thought they were quite clever. Mink are beyond clever. They are so smart it’s scary! They are true problem solvers. If they want something, they will find a way to get it. They can open doors, figure out latches, all kinds of things. They quickly create a mental map in their heads and when hunting remember which holes along a stream have had prey in them in the past, and which ones have always been empty. They can often learn things on the first trial. The hard thing with mink is they use their intelligence against you far more than they do to work with you. When training a mink you really have to figure out how to out think them. I would say they are as smart as, or smarter than any raccoon. No dog, cat, or ferret even comes close to a mink when it comes to how quickly they learn, how long they remember, and their intense problem solving skills.

One absolutely wonderful difference between mink and ferrets is the lack of smell. Mink don’t have even the slightest musky smell as adults. The babies go through a short stinky phase, but quickly grow out of it. The only time an adult mink stinks is if you step on its tail, or really scare it. If that happens they let out a little musk like a skunk would, but the smell quickly disappears, and isn’t near as strong as some of the other mustelids. Unlike skunks, mink don’t really shoot their musk, it just kind of smells up the room like a bad fart, and just like a fart it disappears in a matter of minutes. I’ve never de-scented my mink as there is no reason to. They have less smell than a dog or cat, and only very rarely do they ever musk.

Unlike ferrets mink are not very tolerant of each other. In nature mink are their own worst enemies. More wild mink are killed by other mink than all other predators COMBINED! Mink farmers lose mink every year from cannibalism. I don’t know about Europe, but in the U.S. adult ranch mink are kept separately on fur farms. They only bring the males and females together long enough to breed and then separate them again. The mother mink are separated from their litter at 6 weeks old, and the babies are separated into male female pairs in each cage, with the pairs being brother sister pairs as much as possible to lessen the amount of fighting. The babies are then raised like this until the fall when all the excess mink are killed for pelting. The young mink that are chosen to become breeders are then put in separate cages, and kept singly from that point on. The dividers between mink cages must be solid, or the mink will fight through the wire, and chew off each other’s toes, tongs, noses, and whatever else they can reach through the wire. Even with this careful separation at the farm, mink still end up killing each other all the time. Babies have been known to eat their mothers if their milk dries up, sibling rivalry sometimes turns fatal, and even mating pairs have been known to kill each other. My mink farmer friends tell me that during the time when baby mink are growing up together they have to feed them as much as they will eat to prevent them from killing each other. I have heard of people that have successfully raised baby mink together without problems, and in Europe it seems quite normal for mink to get along. My experience has been that mink fight whenever they can get a chance. Even small babies who are still mostly blind will wobble across the room on weak legs, just so they can latch onto another baby mink and shake it like a rag doll. I’ve never had any luck socializing any of my mink. I have no doubt it can be done, but my mink, and my friend’s mink all just end up fighting. Even though we tried hard to socialize them before they were old enough to even see, it always just ended up being a big mink fight. I have a theory that the ranch mink raised in Europe are partially selected for temperament unlike the U.S. ranch mink. The Europeans just seem to be able to get away with more with their mink than we can with ours. It’s just a theory, as I’ve never even seen a ranch mink from Europe, but that’s what I believe.he

And last of all, I'm going to compare and contrast the wild ancestor of the ferret, the European polecat, to the wild mink to show how entirely different the two species really are. European polecats have loosely guarded territories, and are quite tolerant of intruders, even of the same sex. Mink, as stated earlier, kill their neighbors and fights over territory cause more deaths than all other mink predators combined. When the introduced American mink moves into a European polecat's territory, the polecat is pushed out or killed by the more aggressive American mink. In nature European polecats eat mainly small to medium sized terrestrial mammals like mice, voles, rats, and rabbits, as well as some cold blooded prey like frogs. European polecat don't swim very often, and don't try to dive under the water. Mink are the jack of all trades. They can hunt all of the same land prey the European polecat does, and also aquatic prey like an otter. Unlike the strictly terrestrial European polecat, American mink can dive under the water and chase down fish, crayfish, and crabs. It's the American mink's high intelligence and ability to utilize both land and aquatic prey, that has allowed it to spread into every country it has been taken to for fur farming.

All in all, I find that there are more differences between mink and ferrets than there are similarities.
Last edited by Minkenry on Sat Dec 22, 2012 3:53 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The truth about mink as pets

Postby Minkenry » Sat Dec 22, 2012 3:19 am

Chapter 4

So if mink are so crazy, why keep one as a pet?


Now after having gone over many of the difficult and negative aspects of trying to keep a mink as a pet, I'm going to discuss just what it is that makes a mink such a fun and exciting pet for the right person.
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Re: The truth about mink as pets

Postby Minkenry » Sat Dec 22, 2012 4:57 am

Chapter 4 cont.

The number one most intriguing thing about pet mink is their playfulness. Not all mink acquired as adults are playful, but the ones you bottle raise sure are! Mink just play and play and play! They are a total blast! Depending on the mink you can play tag, tug of war, fetch, go down slides, have them wrestle with your hand, and many many other games. They love to play so much, that at times it drives you nuts, even then you can't help but smile. Here are some videos of the bottle raised mink I’ve had in the past, and one video of my friend and the mink I helped him bottle raise.

http://youtu.be/0hmBClFNeDE

http://youtu.be/zmumzpOXhH0

http://youtu.be/_8ZA7wYlxOk

http://youtu.be/b00cohQ59z0

Many bottle raised mink also seem to bond with you much deeper than any squirrel, chipmunk, rabbit, ferret, fox, skunk, cat, raccoon, rat, or most any other mammal pets ever will, except of course a dog. A dog will love you more than most people ever will! Even the mink obtained as adults seem to bond to you to some degree, but nothing like the bottle raised babies do! Listen to this mink chirp for me when she hears my voice! I just love that little chirp! Some mink grow out of the chirping, and some chirp to you like a baby their entire life.

http://youtu.be/8LXCT8s47jk

Mink are super super smart. They are as curious as any baby raccoon or monkey, but don't get into quite as much trouble...... well they usually don't anyway. It's a good thing that mink have paws instead of little hands! Even so, it will surprise you what they can get open with their teeth! Sometimes their intelligence can make them quite frustrating, but they definitely keep things interesting. They are constantly figuring new things out, and doing things that just blow you away.

All things considered, I could never go back to having a plane old boring ferret after raising mink. Yes the mink are more time consuming. Yes they take more patience. Yes they take more work to keep tame and under control. But they are so worth it to me.
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Re: The truth about mink as pets

Postby Minkenry » Sun Dec 30, 2012 5:44 pm

Chapter 5

Should I get a mink?


The decision to get a mink should never be made lightly. They are a very time consuming, and at times very frustrating animal to own. If you get frustrated, or bored with your mink, there is nowhere you can take him/her. Shelters won’t take them, and the chance of finding someone who can handle a mink is very slim. Also you can’t just release it because your mink won’t know how to hunt and will probably starve before he learns. Getting a mink must be a lifelong commitment. Mink can live up to 10 years, so be prepared for many years of going on walks once every day, and taking time out of your schedule to play with your mink.

The first question you should ask yourself is if you have the time necessary to properly raise a mink. If you get a baby mink realize that you are going to need to devote A MINIMUM of 2 hours a day EVERYDAY to playing with, going on walks with, and bonding with your baby. It’s best if you spit that 2 hours into two different hour long play sessions/walks.

Now remember, that 2 hours a day is an absolute minimum, and the more you do the better. You will need to keep up that vigorous schedule for an absolute minimum of 3 months (assuming you get your mink when it’s a month old, that would make your baby 4 months old at this point), but it’s MUCH better if you keep it up for the first 6 months. The more days you skip, or cut their play/bonding time short, the harder your mink will be to handle the next day, and if done too often, it will permanently affect them later in life.

I have a friend, who I’m going to call Bob, who kept up this schedule PERFECTLY for about the first 2 months of raising his baby. By the time Bob’s little mink was 3 months old he was quite rambunctious, as are most mink at that age, and taking his little mink everywhere became too much of a hassle. This is my opinion, but I’m sure Bob probably thought to himself, “I’ve done so good up to this point. I’ve taken my mink everywhere I go, and played with him all day long for months now. I’m sure I can back off and have a little bit of a break and he’ll be just fine.” It wasn’t long before I saw Bob showing up to our mink activities with these thin little gloves on. I asked what they were for, and he said his baby was getting a little too rough with his play bites. It wasn’t long before the thin little gloves turned into big thick welding gloves. To this day his mink can’t be safely handled without the thickest of gloves on.

Let me tell you the story of another friend who I’m going to call Frank. This friend initially took his mink everywhere just like the first friend did, however, a week after the bottle feeding was over, he became busy with work, and was only able to spend an hour or two a day with his little baby. Frank’s baby was noticeably harder to handle than Bob’s baby, who was handled basically all day every day. Frank was worried about his mink ending up being what I call “a glover” which is a mink that can’t be safely handled without gloves on. He expressed this concern to me, and I told him to be patient, and keep working with his mink. I told Frank that if he didn’t put enough time into his baby she would become a glover. Frank was frustrated with his situation at work, but didn’t give up and kept playing with and walking his mink as much as he could. Frank continued to regularly handle and walk his mink whenever possible, and around the time that Bob started leaving his mink in his cage we started noticing a difference. It wasn’t long before Frank’s mink was much easier for him to handle than Bob’s was. To this day Frank can handle his mink glove free, and even hold her still to put a harness on without any gloves on, where as Bob can’t even touch his mink without big thick welding gloves.

I tell these stories to make a point. Consistency will always win the day. Training a mink is a marathon, not a sprint. If you have time to spend all day with a baby mink that’s awesome, but don’t think that one or two months of spending all day everyday with your mink will make it so you can take an early vacation!

Now don’t worry this 2 hours a day doesn’t last forever. Let’s say you pick up your baby mink the first of June, and he/she is 32 days old. You then religiously devote 2-3 hours a day to taking your baby on walks, and playing with your mink in the house and yard. 3 months later it’s the beginning of September and your baby is now 4 months old. You’ve done a good job, but have other things in life that really need more of your time and attention. That’s fine, back things off to an hour a day for the next 3 months. Now it’s December and the Holliday season has you going crazy. Fortunately for you, you have invested the necessary time, effort, and patients into your now adult mink. If you need to leave him in his cage for a day or two, or even a week, he’ll be just fine. As long as this isn’t the new norm for your pet mink, having a few days or even a week off every now and then shouldn’t hurt your relationship. Just remember that your mink still needs regular exercise or he/she will go crazy, so you should try to take your mink on a walk at least 4-5 times a week, preferably once a day. Just don’t get complacent and leave your mink in its cage too long or it will go crazy from being all penned up, and will eventually start to forget you. He is, after all, a wild animal, not a dog.

So you have to honestly ask yourself. “Am I ready for this kind of commitment?” Can you honestly take that much time out of your day, every day for 3-6 months? After that 3-6 months will you still be willing and able to take your mink on walks a minimum of 4-5 times a week, preferably every day? Another thing to ask yourself is if your mink bites you and draws blood, can you handle it? If getting bitten scares you, DON’T UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES GET A MINK. I can guarantee you that one day you will be bitten, and realize that you might even need medical attention from the bite. If you can’t handle being bitten, DON’T GET A MINK. Another thing you need to ask yourself is, what will you do if your mink ends up being “a glover”? Will you still love and care for your mink, even if it can’t be safely handled without big thick welding gloves? Will you still take your mink out on walks close to every day, even though you can’t even touch your “pet” without gloves? If any one of these things sound too much to handle, THEN DON’T GET A MINK. Go get a ferret instead.

Now it may sound like I’m trying to scare you away from getting a mink. In all honesty I am. If you can’t honestly answer these tough questions with a resounding “Yes I can handle it!” and “Yes I both can and will invest that kind of time into a pet!” then you really shouldn’t be getting a mink. And be honest with yourself. It’s not fair to you or the mink if you just lie to yourself in order to justify your getting a pet that “sounds cool”. The truth is mink are cool pets. They are AWESOME pets for the right person. But for the wrong person they are a HORRIBLE pet. I love mink, and I am completely addicted to keeping them as pets, and hunting with them as a sport. All of the mink I’ve gotten over the years that I’ve invested the proper time with, have all ended up sweet, and easy to handle. I’ve had to start out with gloves on all of my adults, but with the proper amount of work the gloves have always come off. I’ve never once had to wear gloves with any of the mink I’ve gotten as a baby. A mink that becomes “a glover” is most likely that way because someone didn’t put the proper time and effort into taming/training them.
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Re: The truth about mink as pets

Postby Minkenry » Thu Jan 31, 2013 12:39 am

Chapter 6

Choosing Your Mink


The first thing you need to understand is each mink has it’s own personality, regardless of sex, color, how you raise it, or the age you take them. However there are several generalities I have noticed with mink. I would recommend taking a baby mink from its mom and bottle raising it at 32-34 days old. You could take one a little younger, but NEVER take one younger than 28 days old. In my opinion 32-34 days old is the perfect age, and any younger or older is just asking for unnecessary complications and problems.

Mink are pretty easy to bottle feed if you get them between 32-34 days old. They are totally weaned by 40-42 days old. They start eating meat at a SUPER young age. They are only about 22-23 DAYS OLD when they start sampling their first solid food and they are eating about half milk half meat by the time they are only 29-30 days old. So if you get one at the age I recommend, they will already be eating a lot of solid food with their milk, which makes feeding them easier. If you get them older than 34 days there is more chance of the baby stressing out because they miss there mom. It will take them longer to accept you as their new mom the older you get them. However, the younger you get them the more fragile they are. That's why I say it's best to take them right before or just after they open there eyes, which they usually do at 33-35 days old.

Now having said that I've had 28 day old babies stress out like crazy, and I've had 34 day old babies that act like they never noticed a change, so you never know for sure with mink. I really don't like taking them much older than 34 days because the chance of stressing them out is MUCH greater the older the baby mink is, and they stay stressed for MUCH longer.

The first generality I've noticed with mink is the differences between the sexes. Male mink are much larger and more powerful, but tend to be more laid back than female mink. Now remember that a laid back mink is BOUNCING OFF THE WALLS CRAZY when compared to a ferret!

The next generalization I've noticed is that the lighter colored mutations (whites and grays) tend to be more laid back than the natural blacks and browns. I however don’t like the lighter mutation mink since they aren't as healthy or long lived as the natural colored black and brown mink. I am also under the opinion that the lighter colored mink are less intelligent than the black and brown mink, but that is only my opinion, and there is no way to prove it without doing a study.

By far the BIGGEST and MOST IMPORTANT factor that will decide what kind of pet you end up with is how you raise the mink. In raising mink the #1 most important factor is TIME. If you spend several hours EVERY DAY playing with your mink, and taking it on walks, then your mink will bond with you. If you leave it in a cage and play with it every once in a while, you will have an aggressive mink who doesn't really like you. It’s how you raise your mink, and the amount of time you spend with it that is the biggest deciding factor as to the kind of pet your mink will become.
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Re: The truth about mink as pets

Postby Minkenry » Thu Jan 31, 2013 2:20 am

Chapter 7

Raising a Baby Mink



If you do as I recommend and get your baby at 32-34 days old, then your baby should accept you as it's new mom very quickly after you get it home. When I make a bed for my baby mink I like to start out using a small box, or better yet, a ten gallon fish tank. I provide 2 different areas in this little box. 2/3 of the box is the babies bed, and the other third is the spot to go to the bathroom. I use a folded towel on the bed side to make a soft, flat bed. The bathroom third of the box is covered in some type of absorbent litter for the baby to go to the bathroom in.

Depending on how young your baby is when you get it, you might have to wipe it's bum to get it to poop or pee. Simply take a piece of toilet paper that has been dampened with warm water, and gently wipe your babies bum while holding it over the toilet as it pees and poops. You might want to save one of the poops to put on the bathroom side of the babies box, to encourage it to go to the bathroom in the right spot when it gets old enough to go to the bathroom on it's own. As a rule of thumb I wipe my babies bum to get it to go to the bathroom after every feeding.

If an accident happens and the bedding get's any poop or pee on it, you need to change it immediately, or the baby might be tempted to go to the bathroom on it's bedding, since it smells like poop or pee. This can create a bad habit of soiling it's bedding. Also, don't let the bathroom side of their box get too dirty, or they will start to go to the bathroom in their bed side of the box.

At first you'll want to leave a poop or two on the bathroom side of their box, to encourage them to keep going on the right side of their box. Don't have the clay kitty litter on the top layer of the box, as mink wipe their buts on the ground after going to the bathroom, and the clay litter will stick to their sensitive skin inside their bum and will sometimes even make them bleed. It's very painful, especially to the females, because it will stick to their female parts when they wipe after going pee. Kitty litter is wonderful for soaking up urine however, so what I do is put kitty litter on the bottom of the litter box, and put something else like recycled paper pellets (they look like what you feed to rabbits except they are bigger and gray) or the ground corn cob on the top layer to cover up the kitty litter underneath. It doesn't matter what you use, as long as it covers up the kitty litter so it doesn't stick to their bum when they wipe.

The mink's bed has two parts. A warm part and a part that is regular room temperature. Baby mink need to be protected from both high and low temperatures, as too much heat can kill them, and too little heat will easily chill them. The younger the mink, the more supplemental heat they will need. The side of their box furthest from the bathroom is what I use for the warm side. You can use a light bulb, or a heating pad under the box to create the warm spot. I prefer to use the heating pad, so there isn't a constant light shining on them all hours of the day and night. Make sure the baby can't reach any cords, as even little baby mink like to bite and chew things! The baby mink needs to be able to choose how warm or cool it wants to be, that is why there is a warm spot for the baby to move to when it feels cold, and the other half of the bed is unheated in case the baby gets too warm. If the baby doesn't have a cool side of the bed to lay in, it will lay on the bathroom side to try to get cool, which you obviously don't want.

I let the baby mink's body language tell me how warm the warm side needs to be. Remember these important body language cues with mink. Curling up in a tight little ball usually means the baby is on the cool side and it's trying to get warmer. Laying stretched out with it's belly up means the baby is on the warm side and is ether relaxing, or possibly trying to cool off. If the baby is always avoiding the warm side, then it is obviously too warm, and you need to lower the temperature on the warm side of it's bed. If the baby is always curled in a tight ball on the warm side, then the warm side is too cool, and the temperature needs to be raised. If the baby prefers the warm side, but lays stretched out, or on it's back most of the time, then the warm side is just right. Temperature is a very important thing to watch, as a chilled baby can get sick, and an over heated baby can easily get heat stroke and die. The older the baby gets, the greater it's ability to create it's own heat gets. Eventually the mink will grow to love cold and hate heat, but that will come as the baby matures.

I feed my baby mink Puppy milk formula out of a pet nurser bottle, and fresh chopped raw meat on a plate. I start out feeding my baby every 4 hours, day and night. As time goes on the baby will stop wanting to eat so frequently, and the number of feedings will slowly taper off until you are only feeding a breakfast and a dinner. Baby mink start eating little bits of meat at a surprisingly young age. At only 22-23 DAYS OLD they start eating their first little bits of meat, and they are eating about half milk half meat by the time they are only 29-30 days old. They are totally weaned off of the milk by 40-42 days old. You can also feed your baby mink super high quality ferret food, or cat food that has been soaked in water to make it soft, or just get some mink chow from the farm. Mink chow is quite cheap, and I'm sure the farmer would be happy to sell, or even give you some for free. Just fill several small zip-lock bags with the mink chow, being sure not to fill them too full. Then keep one bag in the fridge and the rest in the freezer and thaw them out when the bag in the fridge has been fed, or has been in the fridge too long.

I don't like to leave mink meat in the fridge for more than 5 days, so only have enough thawed meat for 2-3 days worth of feeding, and keep the rest frozen until the day before you need it, then put it in the fridge to thaw. Mink will get sick and can even die if their meat isn't SUPER fresh. Meat that has been in the fridge for a while, but us humans can still cook and eat just fine would make a mink sick. So mink need meat that is EVEN MORE FRESH than you need it to be! I prefer the natural diet, and I chop up whole pigeons, trout, rats, bluegill, mice, ducks, bass, squirrels, rabbits, muskrats, ect. If you feed the natural diet make sure you chop up bones for calcium, liver and other organs for vitamins, and some fur, feathers, or fish scales for fiber. I throw away the stomach and intestines. Don't ever cook meat or fish for a mink, as it takes a lot of the goodness out of the meat. If you are going to feed meat or fish, FEED IT RAW! I prefer the natural diet, but you can always use super high quality ferret food or cat food, or better yet a combination of both. Here's a link to finding good ferret/cat food options...

http://www.mdferretpaws.org/care/food_treats.html

Now one important part of raising a baby mink is teaching it to control itself. Even tiny baby mink love to bite when they play, and it takes some work to get them to ether stop biting completely, or to at least bite gently. I actually love the baby mink play bites, so I don't discourage biting, I just encourage the mink to use self control and to bite gently, and only appropriate parts of the body. I only allow my mink to bite my arms and hands, my legs, feet, neck, and face are strictly off limits for ANY biting, regardless of how gentle.

As far as how to discipline your baby mink, I've heard of people who use time outs, and I've recommended timeouts to one of my friends and had it work well, but I've actually never used time outs myself. I prefer to use my voice as a punishment and reward when needed, and try to avoid using any physical punishment until I really have to. I'm not recommending the physical punishment thing, just stating the truth that I do end up using it at times. My form of physical punishment is usually grabbing their head, and holding their mouth shut while looking at them so close it's almost nose to nose and saying harshly "NO!!! NO!!!!" I hold them for a moment like that and then put them down. You don't want to do that for too long, as the longer you do it the more angry they will get. As they get older I sometimes can't tell if it helps, or just makes things worse, but that's what I do. I avoid the physical thing as much as possible, as more often than not it just makes them mad.

It's really best to find a none physical way to punish your mink, like time outs, or a harsh voice. Too much, or too rough of physical punishment will just get you bit, and make your mink hate you, so use any physical punishment with caution. I really think scuffing a mink will just get you bit and accomplish nothing, but that's only an opinion, as I've never dared to try it. A harsh voice, followed by lots of praise when they do something right is the best way to go. Here's a couple videos showing two different mink I've bottle raised, and how I reprimanded them when they started biting too hard.

This is Rocky when 6 weeks old, and how I get him to bite more gently...

http://youtu.be/_qGEix-uZ58

Notice how I give him a harsh "NO!" then get him to play with a toy instead, and when he does I give him lots of praise. I always recommend that you keep a favorite toy with you at all times. That way whenever your mink really wants to bite something, you have another option to give them other than your own body. With most baby mink you just have to carry that favorite toy whenever you hold them, that way you can always put the toy in their mouth when they get too rambunctious. Remember, a harsh "NO" when they are too rough, and lots of praise when they are soft, or take their roughness out on a toy instead of you. If you don't have that toy, then they have no other option but your hand! Remember that the praise is just as important as saying "NO". Remember, praise is even more important than the reprimand!

This is a female mink named Inshta'pede several weeks older than Rocky was in the first video. It shows how I reprimand her for biting too hard, then verbally praise her when she is more gentle. You can skip to the 5:00 minute mark in the video if you want to see what I'm talking about.

http://youtu.be/QRSLYYbvtng

The most important thing you can do with a small baby mink is spend lost of time with your baby. As your baby grows and matures, start taking it on walks. These walks are great for developing your babies body and mind, but more importantly it builds a bond between you and your baby. Here's a video showing me taking my 8 week old baby mink Rocky on a walk.

http://youtu.be/_mESR77UFOU

Play time, and walks like that are what bond your baby mink to you. The more play time and walks you take your baby on, the closer they will bond to you. It's that bond that makes them actually care what you think when you tell them “NO”. It's that same bond that makes them excited to do things you want them to do when you give them praise. It's that bond that will make your baby grow into an adult mink that both loves and respects you.
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Minkenry
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Re: The truth about mink as pets

Postby Minkenry » Mon Feb 11, 2013 3:53 am

Chapter 8
The Basics of Training Mink


Training a mink is not always a simple process. It can take lots of time, patience and repetition. How quickly a mink learns depends mainly on the mink, and what you are trying to teach them. Mink are extremely intelligent, but they can also be extremely stubborn. If a mink wants to learn something they can often learn after just one or two times, but if they don't want to learn something it can take several months to train them. If you are patient, consistent, and able to think creatively to figure out what motivates your mink, then I believe you can eventually teach a mink almost anything within reason, and to a point. Mink are usually very hyper, and lack patients, and will always be a wild animal no matter how much you tame or train them, but they can be molded to do or not do a lot of different things if you take the time to teach them, and find a good way to motivate them.

The most complicated thing about training a mink is how extremely different each mink can be. I've had mink that would come to me for food no matter how fat they were, and no matter what they were doing. I've also had other mink that only came for food if they were very hungry or just very bored. I've had mink that even though I got them as an adult, after the first week of working with them they never once wanted to bite me. I've had other mink that were still biting me after 6 weeks of training. Each mink is an individual and to be a good mink trainer you really need to be creative and sometimes think of new ways to train your mink, because the thing that worked well with your last mink might not work at all with your next one. The challenge I have in writing on this topic is trying to cover the different personalities that each mink you train might have. Each mink is motivated differently and by different things. Also each mink will react sightly different to the same training. A training method that may be great with one mink, is almost useless on the next. Since I have trained many different mink from many different backgrounds, I'm going to try to describe the different training methods I have had success with on my various different mink I've trained. But realize that your mink is a different individual from any of the mink I have trained, so if what I have recommended is not working, you might need to try something slightly different. That's just how mink are. They are highly intelligent, very complicated, and very from one individual to the next. You just have to find what works for your mink, and I'll try my best to describe what methods have worked with the many different mink I've trained.

The number one key to training a mink to do anything is motivation. If you can find what motivates that particular mink, then you will have the key to train your mink with. Some mink are very highly food motivated, and they will do almost anything for a special treat. As long as they have any room in their stomach, they are excited to get food regardless of how fat they are. Many mink that are highly motivated by food will even be excited to get food when they are already too full to eat another bite, and they will take the morsel of food you give them and hide it for later, then come running back for another piece they can hide.
Some mink don't seem to care about food unless their body is low on fat, and their stomach is totally empty. These mink can also be trained using food reward, but they need to have their body fat level dropped to almost nothing. In a way, all mink are like birds of prey in that their food drive increases as their body fat decreases.
We humans have a hard time comprehending this, because our bodies get hungry based on how long it's been since we've eaten last. Our hunger levels don't change based on the amount of fat we have on our bodies. If we haven't eaten for 24 hours, it doesn't matter if we are deathly obese, or dangerously thin, we are really hungry. If you increase the amount of time to 48 hours, we feel starved, even if in reality we are extremely overweight and it would be good if we lost some more calories.
Regardless of the mink's personality their food drive will increase as their body fat decreases. The only difference is, some mink still have a high food drive when fat, and others have a weak food drive when fat. All mink have a even higher food drive when their body fat is low, regardless of their personality.
Mink, birds of prey, and I'm sure many other wild predators with high metabolisms, are like this because it is a tool to help them survive in the wild. If a wild predator has lots of body fat, then it can survive longer on smaller amounts of food. In the wild there is no need for a fat predator to over exert it's self, or take risks when hunting. If a fat predator doesn't catch something, he'll be fine because he can live off of his fat. It's better for a fat predator to be cautious, and a little bit lazy, because he can conserve energy, and take less risks. Just taking the slow and easy prey, and ignoring the hard to catch or dangerous stuff. But when a wild mink is low on body fat, he is in danger of starving, and better take every chance he can get to get food, or he might not get another chance and die from starvation.
Mink have extremely high metabolisms, and need to eat a lot of food just to stay alive. They burn fat quickly, so if their fat reserves are running low, they have a much higher sense of urgency when it comes to getting food. A mink with low body fat will put everything he has into getting food, and take all sorts of risks to get it, because the larger risk of starvation will kill him if he doesn't eat soon.
This is especially true when it's cold. A mink's urgency to get food also increases as the temperature decreases. When it's well below freezing, a mink with a little bit of extra fat will be just as desperate to eat as a mink with close to no fat in the heat of the summer. Once again, nature knows that when it's warm a mink can survive on much less food than when it's cold.
Now you may be wondering why I went into all of that detail about what makes a mink hungry. Like I said earlier, the key to training a mink is finding what motivates that mink. Food is a great motivator, especially when your mink is at a healthy weight. To an overweight mink, food isn't always a very good motivation, depending on the mink's personality. If you are training a mink to come when you call it's name, and the reward for coming is food, then the mink will only come when the food is more interesting that what he is already doing. If the mink is really fat, and has a low food drive, then even if that mink hasn't eaten for 2 days, he might totally ignore you when you call him if playing in the bushes is more exciting to him than eating. However, if you take that same mink and slim him down till he has very little body fat, he'll drop everything he's doing and come running he minute you call, even though you may have fed him just 8 hours earlier.
It is possible to drop a mink too low, and when you do this the mink will become absolutely DESPERATE for food. It's not a good idea to drop your mink too low. It's not healthy for the mink, and they become so obsessed with eating that they completely stop thinking and will do all sorts of crazy things to try and get food. I'm sure it's during these hunger crazes that a mink does some of the crazy things you hear about like killing adult goats, and eating medium sized dogs. So it's important that you don't drop a mink's weight too low, or too fast. If your mink is already too fat, and he needs to loose weight, do it by feeding him less and slowly drop his weight down, avoiding any fasts longer than 48 hours. When dropping a mink's weight, 2 small meals a day is better than one big one.
Food is not the only motivator for a mink. The greatest motivator for most mink is the desire to chase and kill. This desire is usually much greater than food drive, and only when a mink has extremely low body fat does hunger overpower the desire to chase and kill. This is one thing that makes birds of prey different from mink. Most birds of prey only hunt to eat. If a hawk is fat, they will pass up any opportunity to kill prey if it involves work, and will sometimes even ignore easy to catch prey if they are really fat. Even a fat mink with a full stomach will attack and kill prey, sometimes even putting forth almost as much effort to catch and kill the prey as they would have if they were hungry and had lower body fat. Unlike hawks, mink don't just kill to eat, they kill because it's fun. Mink also kill when not hungry to build up a store of food for when hunting is bad. Mink have such high metabolisms that they can starve much quicker than most other predators, especially if they have low fat reserves.The drive to chase and kill is usually the strongest motivator, and a mink will almost always come running regardless of how how hungry he is, or what he's doing, if he knows it means he'll get the chance to chase or kill something. Remember, hunting is more than just business to a mink, it's also a lot of fun.
The next two motivators seem to be more reserved for mink that were raised from a very young age, though I'm sure there are mink out there that even though they were acquired as adults, still respond to these motivators. These two motivators are the desire to play, and the desire to please.
All young mink, and many adult mink LOVE to play. This can be used as a reward for young mink, and older mink who still have a very playful spirit. The desire to play is usually closely associated with the desire to hunt and kill, as almost all play for a mink has something to do with finding, capturing, or killing prey, real or imaginary. Notice that most play activities for a mink ether involve searching for (going through tubes, diving down under the water), chasing, or attacking some object.
Mink who bond very closely with their human (like I said this is usually with mink that were raised from a baby) will often have a desire to please them. Many mink acquired as an adult will also have the desire to please, but it's usually much more mild than a mink acquired as a baby. With mink who have a desire to please, you can often get them to do, or not do things by using the tone of your voice. You can verbally praise or scold a mink for doing good or bad things, and they will often learn to do what you want to try to get more praise or to avoid your verbal disapproval.
These two motivators are often the weakest motivators on mink as they grow older, and seem to be more useful for while the mink is young. But like I said, there are mink who grow up with one or both of these motivators remaining an important training tool even later in life.
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Re: The truth about mink as pets

Postby Minkenry » Mon Feb 18, 2013 3:38 am

Chapter 9
Taming an adult mink, and teaching the food call


Here I will describe how to both tame, and train an adult mink. If your mink is already tame, then you basically follow the same process that you would with a wild mink, only difference is you won't be wearing gloves, and the process should move along much quicker, and you might also be able to skip a couple of the beginning steps. Teaching a mink to come when called is an absolute must in my opinion. I don't care if you mink is just a pet, or if you use it for hunting like I do, you absolutely need to be able to call your mink back to you.

If your mink is fresh from the wild, and is not yet accustomed to life in captivity, you need to first make sure your new mink is eating good before you start the taming and training process. Occasionally mink trapped from the wild will refuse to eat, and need to be encouraged to eat anyway possible. Only fresh raw meat and fish should be offered to a wild mink, as this is what it is already used to eating. Open an animal, or fish carcass exposing the meat and guts, to encourage the mink to begin feeding. If the mink doesn't eat for the fist day, the next day remove the old food, and give it live prey to kill. Small to medium sized birds are a great option, as their flapping around excite a mink, and they will quickly kill the bird out of pure excitement. Then when they taste the warm blood after killing the bird, they will be more likely to start feeding. After your wild mink has been feeding regularly for 3 to 5 days, eating all it wants, then you can begin the taming process.
If you have an adult mink that just came from the mink farm, or you have an untrained adult pet mink, then this first step is totally unnecessary, as your mink is already accustomed to being in captivity. If you mink is a pet, or comes from a mink farm, chances are it is way too fat. Even careful mink owners usually keep their mink far fatter than they need to. Many people are under the very wrong impression that a mink is supposed to look like an otter, rather than a sleek and thin weasel. I can tell you right now that if your mink resembles an otter it's probably too fat. Here are some pictures showing what a HEALTHY mink looks like.
http://farm1.staticflickr.com/100/25734 ... cfe8_z.jpg
http://www.wildaboutbritain.co.uk/archi ... CatSml.jpg
http://th00.deviantart.net/fs41/200H/i/ ... eaross.jpg
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_5nFRdKMLDL0/T ... /mink2.jpg
http://share2.esd105.org/rsandelin/Fiel ... /mink3.jpg.
As I described in the last chapter, most fat mink have very little motivation to come when you call them. So for ranch and pet mink, this training will involve your mink loosing excess fat, and getting it down to a healthier, more natural weight. So with fatter mink like this, you should give them 24-36 hours without food before starting the training process. With a wild or thin mink, 12 hours without food should be sufficient to start with.
I start the training process by teaching the mink to eat food from my gloved hand. I place the mink in a large cage big enough for me to walk around in, or small room with no distractions, and nothing for it to hide in or under. Then I offer it food from my glove. I start with whatever food the mink is accustomed to eating, so a chunk of raw meat for a wild mink, a chunk of mink chow for a ranch mink, or a favorite treat for an untrained pet mink. These two videos show the first step in training and taming a mink.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86Zc1N34WrY
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EzK_2yZv58M
As soon as the mink readily eats from my gloved hand, then I start teaching it the food call. The food call can be a whistle, or a word, it doesn't really matter, as long as this call never changes. You basically give the call, then hand the mink food. Give the call, give some food. As soon as the mink responds quickly every time you give that call, you move on to the next step, which is to have your mink climb up into your hands to eat.
You teach a mink to climb up into your hands by first holding one glove on the ground in front of the other while teasing the mink with the meat until it steps onto your gloved hand that's wresting on the ground. As soon as the mink steps onto your gloved hand you give the mink the food. You do that until the mink will step on your gloved hand with out hesitation. Then you move to the next step which is to get the mink to allow you to life it first half way, then all the way off the ground for the food. Here's a video showing this training step.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uSWh5fUn93I
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FaKzsQuuaeI
After the mink easily climbs up on your glove and lets you lift it off the ground, the next step is to teach the mink to eat the meat on your glove, rather than take the meat and run with it, which is what they usually want to do. Teaching a mink to eat the meat while in your hands rather than running off it, can be a little tricky at times. Here are some tricks to getting a mink to stay in your hands to eat, rather than running off.
Feeding several small pieces instead of one bigger one. If you give a bunch of tiny little pieces that it can quickly chew and swallow, sometimes the mink will sit and eat each and every little piece, rather than taking one and running off with it.
Doing the opposite also sometimes works, but not as often. Sometimes if you give a piece that is so big that you can hold on to it, and the mink has to sit and chew on the meat to eat it, sometimes the mink will sit and chew up the meat on your glove rather than trying to run off with it. Problem with this method is it often just ends in a big tug of war between you and the mink.
A third option to keep the mink from running away is to find a way to keep it there. Depending on the mink, you can put a harness on the mink, and hold it on your glove with the leash, making it eat the food there. You can also grab it's tail to hold it in place, but this sometimes angers the mink, or scares it and makes it try to escape more frantically.
However you do it, the mink needs to learn to climb up on your glove, and eat it's meat there. If you turn climbing up on your glove into a negative experience, then the mink will stop climbing up on your glove for food, so whatever method you use to keep the mink from stealing the food and running away, you need to be careful not to make it a negative experience.
After the mink will instantly come every time you call it, climb up on your glove, and eat the food without trying to run off with it, then it is ready to start testing it's obedience. Up until this point the mink, regardless of if it came to you fresh from the wild, or has been a faithful pet for years, should have been trained in a quite area free from distractions or hiding places. An area not too big, but large enough for you to safely be inside with the mink. The next step is to take it to the next level by adding distractions. You only want to proceed to this next step AFTER the mink has been responding well with no distractions. If at any point your mink refuses to come, or climb up on your glove, then the training session should end, and no food should be given to the mink until the next training session. Depending on how fat or skinny the mink is, the next training session could be as little as 1 hour away, to as long as 12 hours away, depending on how fat the mink is. The mink needs to learn that it won't get anymore free handouts. Just like a mink in the wild needs to work for it's food, your mink needs to learn that it too must work for it's food, and at this point int the game its “work” is to willingly performs the task asked of it. If you are working with a wild mink, you need to be careful about with holding food for too long, because it shouldn't have much fat on it's body. If it's a ranch or pet mink, it's probably so fat and spoiled that missing a meal or two is a good lesson for it to learn, not to mention a health benefit as it losses some of it's excess body fat.
So after the mink masters those steps, you take it to a bigger room or some other place where there are more distractions, or you can go straight to taking it outside with a leash. Then you repeat the same process over again, calling the mink, then getting the mink to climb up on your glove, and so on. Eventually when the mink is listening every time you call, you need to take it to a big open area where you can safely drop the leash.
This area must be free from any holes, because if the mink goes down a hole with a leash attached, it will most likely get tangled, and it will be very difficult to get it out. This area should also have very few if any thick bushes where the same problem can also happen. Good training places I have used are grave yards, school yards, or parks without too many people. You take your mink to the training area you have found, and begin by following it around while holding the leash. Let the mink run around and explore for a little while before calling it. Don't just take it outside and call it the moment it starts running around. If you let the mink get rid of it's excess energy, and explore it's new area for a good 15-20 min before you start your training, the mink will respond much better. This not only allows the mink to burn off excess energy before your training and satisfy it's curiosity of checking out its new surroundings, it also lets it build up a bit of an apatite from running around.
Give it one or two practice calls that aren't very far away, and if the mink responds without hesitation, then drop the leash and let the mink wander a little ways away. Call it once or twice, and if the mink ignores you, the training is done, and no more food is offered. Go pick up the leash, put the mink in it's carry box, and take it home. You can try again a few hours later if the mink has very little body fat, or wait until the same time the next day if it is a fat mink. No matter how fat the mink is, never let it go without food for more than 48 hours.
If the mink isn't listening even though it hasn't eaten for 36-48 hours, maybe you are moving too fast or asking too much of it, and you need to make it easier for it to come by going to an area with less distractions, or calling it while it is still pretty close to you. You might also not be giving the mink enough explore time before you call it. A mink needs to run around exploring the training area for a MINIMUM of 10 minutes before you start training or it will be too distracted to listen. No matter what you do, the mink MUST learn that it only eats when it comes to your call. All this training is useless if you train one day, then just throw food in it's cage the next. The mink must learn that the only food it gets is from coming to you when you call. Your mink needs to learn to WORK for its food, and not just wait for a free handout. Its “work” is coming when you call.

Once the mink is coming instantly from a distance of about 100 feet (30 meters) or more, and under progressively more distractions, the next step is to teach it to come to the lure. The lure is basically your insurance. You have the lure to make sure the mink will always come back when you call, regardless of the circumstance
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Re: The truth about mink as pets

Postby Gryffindor » Sat Mar 02, 2013 4:45 pm

I just wanted to thank you for this, it's so helpful! I really want to become a mink owner one day so have been doing research on it and haven't found anything as informative as this.
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Re: The truth about mink as pets

Postby Ash » Sat Mar 02, 2013 8:34 pm

:agreed:

I really appreciate the work you've been putting in writing out these chapters. It's very useful and informative. Before, most of us here could only speculate what it was like owning a mink, or repeat some things that we'd heard. So it's great that we have an actual mink owner as knowledgeable as you are. ;)
3 red fox, 4 pectinata iguanas, nile monitor, BW tegu, sailfin dragon, leachie gecko, 6 snakes, 2 salamanders, 3 tarantulas
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Re: The truth about mink as pets

Postby Alynn » Sat Mar 02, 2013 8:45 pm

You should think about making this into a care sheet for the website. http://sybilsden.com/caresheet/caremain.htm
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Re: The truth about mink as pets

Postby Minkenry » Mon Apr 15, 2013 4:30 pm

Thanks to everyone who has read and enjoyed the information I have shared. I have another chapter to add. In fact, I can think of several topics I have left out that I need to continue with, but as I'm sure you can imagine it take a lot of time to type out those chapters. I'll see if I can get after it, so you guys have some more information :-)
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Re: The truth about mink as pets

Postby Minkenry » Mon Apr 15, 2013 4:30 pm

Chapter 10
Lure Training, and Teaching a Mink to Cache


Once the mink is coming instantly from a distance of over 100 feet (30 meters), and under progressively more distractions, the next step is to teach it to come to the lure. The lure is basically your insurance. You have the lure to make sure the mink will always come back when you call, regardless of the circumstance.

Just like I mentioned in Chapter 8, the greatest motivator for a mink is the desire to chase and kill. The desire to chase and kill can override fear, the desire to breed, and even the desire to eat. Unlike a hawk that will almost always sit and eat it's catch while totally ignoring other food options around them, a mink will almost always drop what it's eating, if the chance to make a second kill presents its self. Only when a mink has been dropped too low, and it is crazy with hunger, will it ignore the opportunity to catch more prey and just sit an eat it's catch before trying to catch something new.

This is why teaching a mink to come to the lure is so useful. A mink almost always wants to catch more prey, and if the mink considers the lure as prey, they will almost always come running. However, when it comes to food, most mink will only come when hungry. Only mink with a very high food drive will come to the food call when not hungry, where as most any mink will come to chase and catch the lure no matter how full they are, if you train them right.

Training to the lure is just as useful to people with pet mink, as it is to people who practice Minkenry. You don't need to actively hunt or fish with your mink for lure work to be useful. Working a mink on the lure is both fun, and very good exercise for your mink, regardless if you ever want to hunt with your mink. Not only that, but like I said earlier, the lure will make it so you can comfortably release your mink with out a leash on, an still have it come back when you call. You can use your lure as insurance, just in case your mink doesn't listen to the food call.

To make a lure, I just use a raw rabbit hide with the fur still attached, but you can use just about anything you can get your mink to chase. Some mink will chase a rabbit hide just fine without any encouragement. Here's an example of a mink who will chase a rabbit hide lure without any additional encouragement.

http://youtu.be/dLMynPB4mDQ

Not all mink will chase a lure without a little extra encouragement. Here is how you get a mink started on a lure, who is reluctant to chase a lure.

http://youtu.be/KuuwE9c30WY

I like to combine lure training with training a mink to cache. If you don't plan on ever hunting with your mink, then training a mink to cache isn't all that necessary, so you can skip the cache training, and just train your mink to chase the lure for fun. You can simply tie some meat to the lure, as a reward for catching the lure, and not worry about teaching you mink to put the lure in the box.

As soon as a mink catches anything, it's first thought is to take this prey to a safe place. If the mink is hungry it will take it's food to a safe place to eat. If it's not that hungry, or if prey is very plentiful, the mink will still want to take it's catch to a safe place, but instead of eating it's prey, it will hide it for later and continue hunting. This is caching, hiding food in a safe spot for later use. Caching is something a mink naturally does in the wild, and if you use it to your advantage it can be a very useful instinct. However, this same instinct can become an extreme nuisance as well, if you don't work to channel it to your advantage.

Mink are like this because in nature mink need to have a little food in reserve, just in case they have a bad day hunting. Unlike some animals that store lots of fat on their bodies for a rainy day, wild mink rarely have very much fat on them, and if they go more than just a couple days without food, they could possibly die. Unlike a big hawk that can crop up on a large kill, and then go a several days without food, mink have small stomachs, and a very high metabolisms. In cold weather, it doesn't matter how big a mink's meal was, they will need to eat again in 24 hours later to maintain the same body weight. In fact, when the temperature drops below 0°F (-18°C) a mink will need to eat every 12 hours or more, just to maintain their body weight.

Much of the mink's natural range is in northern Canada and Alaska where the temperature can drop well below -50°F(-45°C). In temperatures this cold a mink could starve to death with just one day without anything to eat. Because of this, mink have a strong instinct to cache extra food for a later day. When hunting is good, a mink will catch and cache many kills before it starts to eat. Mink will cache in any good hiding spot they can find, but they prefer to cache their food in a favorite den whenever possible. The trick is to teach a mink to only cache in their carry box. This is useful for many reasons.

For one, when your mink is tired and hungry and plans on eating it's catch immediately, if trained to cache in it's carry box, your mink will most likely take it's catch to it's carry box to eat, instead of deep down in some hole. That is convenient because you will not be sitting outside some hole wondering where your mink is, and what it's doing. You also won't run the risk of having the mink fall asleep deep in some hole after eating it's meal, which is VERY annoying, and a good way to loose a mink.

Another useful thing about having your mink cache in it's carry box, is that you will actually be able to take any extra meat home to feed to your mink later, or to even eat yourself. Here is a video about how to train a mink to cache.

http://youtu.be/CjcEHvSkafY

In this video I use whole bodies of animals. You can start out using the lure, but you will eventually need to do some training with animal bodies. Mink are not stupid, and know the difference between a lure and an actual dead animal. It's easier to start the caching habit with the lure, then later switch to using whole dead animals just like you did the lure. After using whole animal bodies, you will then need to transfer to live animals. For some reason a mink gets so excited after killing, that they often totally forget to cache, and you'll need to do some additional training on live animals to finalize your mink's caching habit.

To be honest, training a mink to cache is very time consuming, and at times very frustrating. It is by no means ABSOLUTELY necessary that you teach your mink to cache if you intend to hunt. Most mink will respond to the lure just fine, even if it's eating a kill down in a burrow, and if you don't mind having your mink leave a dead animal body in it's burrow after killing it, then you don't really have to go through the hassle of training your mink to cache in it's carry box. You can just hunt until your mink makes a kill, and if the kill is down in a burrow, just call your mink back up, and ether leave it there, or dig it out. I, however, can not stand the thought of wasting good meat, and in my eyes a precious life, so for me I MUST train my mink to cache, or spend a ridiculous amount of time digging up kills.

One important part of training a mink to cache is not letting it open it's own kills. For some reason mink don't like to open their own kills at first. Most young mink and adult mink raised on the farm seem to be completely clueless about how to open a freshly killed animal. They seem unable to open their own prey unless driven to it by hunger. This is a great advantage to the minkener, because you can teach your mink to rely on you. I never let my mink open their own kills. Instead, I always provide chopped up whole bodied animals. That way my mink aren't as tempted to chew into a kill they make at the bottom of some deep hole. The mink knows by instinct that the dead animal is food, but if they learn to take that dead animal to their box in exchange for ground meat, then that makes life much easier for them, because they don't have to chew through the tough hide, and crunch up all the bones of their prey.

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