Over time, the fashion for keeping unusual wild animals in the house is gaining momentum: it seems commonplace for many people to keep a dog or cat in an apartment, they want to feel like the owner of a squirrel, fox, ferret, or exotic animals (snakes, koalas). More and more began to domesticate the mink, which was previously considered only a valuable source of fur. Mink is one of the few fur-bearing animals that can get along well with people with the right upbringing. In this article we will talk about what a mink looks like and how to feed such an animal at home.
Description and photo of the animal
Minks in the wild are predators, but they are relatively small in size: body length – 40-50 cm (without tail), female weight – 750-850 g, male weight – 1.4-1.5 kg. The body of animals from the weasel family is slightly flattened, the legs are short, and therefore small predators cannot move quickly. But in the process of evolution, they have formed membranes between the fingers, which allow animals to swim quickly and dexterously.
Did you know? Male minks during sexual activity are able to make unusual sounds, similar to giggling or whistling.
Many people probably know about mink wool. It is very thick, iridescent, has many different colors (white, dark black, gray-bluish, brown, brown). These animals have very sharp teeth and a strong bite, so they can bite through a human hand without any problems. This fact should be considered before buying a mink for your children.
Some people worry that keeping a mink in an apartment is associated with the constant presence of an unpleasant odor. We hasten to note that the animal from the marten family is very clean, and will not emit unpleasant odors. This will only be possible if the cleaning is irregular and of poor quality.
Today, among pets, exotic animals are becoming increasingly popular: capuchin monkey, domestic dragon, wombat, marmoset monkey, kea parrot , centipede, giant Achatina, tarantula, mongoose, miniature bear, black widow, fennec fox, jaguarundi, raccoon dog, nose , opossums, manul and tarantula.
This beautiful animal has a wayward character. Mink can recognize and love only one person, or even treat all family members with increased aggression. In this regard, experts do not recommend giving mink to children to play with. It is best to buy a toy for the animal, with which he will play with great pleasure.
This animal is susceptible to many diseases, and, unfortunately, does not tolerate many of them. Therefore, a pet should be regularly taken for examinations to the veterinarian and vaccinated in a timely manner.
Features of life in the wild
The natural habitat of minks is considered to be most of Eastern Europe and North America. There are two varieties of mink: European and American. The second was brought to Europe before the start of World War II, and today the population of the American mink in Europe significantly exceeds the population of the European one. To a greater extent, this is due to the displacement of the European animal by its larger relative.
This animal lives near rivers, lakes and bays, but very rarely settles further than 200 meters from a reservoir. Minks got their name from the fact that they spend a lot of time in burrows, which are built near thickets of bushes, or near the roots of large trees. The main enemy of the mink is the river otter, which almost always wins the battle for the territory, as it is a larger animal.
An animal from the marten family leads an active lifestyle throughout the year, in winter it begins to roam more and stay near non-freezing water bodies. The animal tries to pull all prey to the shore: frogs, fish from nets, water rats. Sometimes it feeds on plant foods rich in essential vitamins (lingonberries, mountain ash, seeds of perennial plants). If the animal lives near the village, then with a high degree of probability, chickens or other household birds will disappear from people.
When males are ready to mate, they begin an active search for females. At this time, they can move far from their holes. Usually, several “admirers” begin to look after one female at once, but one always wins – the most aggressive and strong. The female’s pregnancy lasts a month and a half, after which the mother takes care of her cubs for 12-14 weeks. The lactation period in these animals is long, and takes about 10 weeks. When small animals learn to hunt and get their own food on their own, they will leave their mother in search of a place to live.
Mink in the house: pros and cons
Many people are still very surprised when they learn that a mink can be kept as a pet. Perhaps in 20-30 years this will become commonplace, and animals from the weasel family will replace many domestic cats and dogs. But today, many doubt the domestication of these predators, and in order to make it easier for people, below we will give all the pros and cons of the domestic mink.
About the pros
Among the positive aspects of the domestication of this animal, the following should be highlighted:
- They are very active and interesting animals with a fairly high level of intelligence. Every child will have fun watching these little fluffies play.
- Loyal, faithful and sincerely loving only one person in the family. Usually it turns out to be the one who best looked after the animal from early childhood.
- With proper upbringing, the mink will become an excellent companion for a cat or dog. They will play together and protect each other.
Minks, unlike cats and dogs, have not gone through many thousands of years of evolution under human control. Animals from the marten family are still wild. It may also take them many hundreds and even thousands of years to become more “socialized”. In this regard, there are several more negative aspects in keeping such animals at home:
- If you leave your pet unattended for a long time, he will become aggressive and naughty.
- A poorly selected diet will lead to the fact that an unpleasant odor will come from the animal’s cage.
- You should not take such a pet to a house where there are small children. The fact is that the mink may not like children’s games, and it will begin to bite and scratch.
- It is possible to accustom this animal to a tray, but this still does not prevent him from marking the territory with urine and feces, because such instincts remain at the subconscious level.
- Mink often changes mood. Sometimes she gladly goes to the hands of the owner, but in some cases she can behave aggressively and unpredictably.
- There is a fairly high probability that even with all the rules of upbringing, you will grow an aggressive and unfriendly beast.
Choosing a pet when buying
Prices for animals from the weasel family can vary greatly. Some sellers offer predatory animals for $50 or more, others want $300 or more for their pets. Everything will depend on the type of mink, the quality of its wool, the popularity of the nursery and the living conditions in it. Be that as it may, only the fact that the animal needs to be bought only at a young age remains important. If you buy an adult, there is a high probability that you will never be able to find a common language with your pet.
Breeding and selling mink is not as common as, for example, breeding German Shepherds or British cats. This is due to the popularity of these pets, which is only gaining momentum and is still at the very bottom of the rating. The easiest way to purchase is to search for good nurseries on the Internet.
Of course, if there are nurseries in your city where mustelids are bred, this will greatly facilitate your task. Choosing a healthy cub is not so easy, so it is better to take an experienced friend or veterinarian with you to the nursery. The cub must be mobile, active, without visible defects on the skin and musculoskeletal system. His coat and eyes should be shiny and there should be no sign of stool under his tail.
Keeping a mink at home
Keeping a mink at home is not an easy process. In addition, it is not suitable for everyone who wants to have a small predator in their home. Below we will understand all aspects of the proper upbringing and care of a furry animal.
Conditions and place for the animal
Experts recommend keeping such an animal only in spacious cages, where there is a lot of space for active games. Due to the fact that mustelids are very mobile predators, leading an active lifestyle all year round, they need to be given freedom of action. Many people try the practice of keeping a mink without a cage, when she just walks around the apartment, like a cat or a well-mannered dog. Of course, with a without a cage content, one should be prepared for torn wallpaper or scattered things, but such behavior is characteristic only of ill-mannered animals.
If you still decide to purchase a cage for your pet, then buy only a metal product, as the tree will not stand under the sharp teeth of a furry predator. The cells of the cage should be small, the cage itself should be spacious, equipped with a drinking bowl, a feeder and a tray. It should be noted that the pet’s cage will have to be cleaned daily, as long-term neglect will cause unpleasant odors that are characteristic of many members of the weasel family.
Don’t forget to walk with your pet. Minks are very fond of walking on a leash in the fields or in the forest. Bathing is also an important aspect of animal care. It will be good if you live in a private house, and you have the opportunity to equip a small pool near the house. If this is not possible, then take him to swim in the nearest body of water, just do not let him swim without a leash.
What to feed the animal
You already know that the mink is a small aggressive predator that in the wild feeds on fish, toads, birds, small rats and some plant foods. At home, it is important to create an optimal diet that will be balanced with regard to the presence in food of all the necessary vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats, polyunsaturated fatty acids. The wrong diet can lead to poor pet health, problems with hair and claws.
Veterinarians recommend feeding the animal with fish, poultry, seafood, porridge, and dairy products. Fresh berries (blackberries, lingonberries) will also benefit the animal, because they are rich in essential vitamins and minerals. Sometimes you can feed the animal with purchased dry cat food, but always make sure that there is clean drinking water in the cage.
Care and cleanliness
The animal’s cage must be serviced regularly so that unpleasant odors do not arise in the house. This must be done with special care and affection, so as not to cause excessive aggression in the animal. In addition, do not forget about the regular combing of wool. For such procedures, you should purchase a special brush, after consulting with your veterinarian. Regular combing will help the animal quickly change the fur coat; in addition, such procedures improve blood circulation in the upper layer of the epidermis.
We monitor health
A very important point in caring for minks is monitoring their health. Experts note that these animals can be exposed to various viral and parasitic diseases, which is why it is necessary to enlist the support of an experienced veterinarian who will conduct regular examinations and make timely vaccinations. Deworming is the process of expelling worms (helminths) from the body of an animal. Such a procedure should be carried out at least once a year, after a preliminary examination. Also remember to ask your veterinarian for advice on supplementing with vitamin and mineral tablets.
About mink breeding
The process of breeding these beautiful furry predators is not so difficult. It just needs to be treated with care, seriousness in intentions and readiness for unforeseen circumstances (always keep the phone number of the nearest veterinarian at the ready).
These animals reach puberty only with the onset of ten months of age. Before the onset of puberty, animals must be closely monitored and all sexual contacts interrupted, because early pregnancy can lead to the loss of the female and her children. It is best to plant a male and a female in one cage in March, since it is during this period that the animals are at the peak of sexual activity. The period of gestation by the female takes 1.5-2 months, but it is not so easy to find out about the pregnancy of the animal. The fact is that the round tummy of the animal appears only 2 weeks before the expected date of birth.
One female is able to bring up to 10 cubs, which are born blind, hairless and defenseless. For a month and a half, they feed exclusively on mother’s milk. After this period, babies can be placed in a separate cage and transferred to adult food.
In general, caring for a mink is not difficult even for beginners. It is no more difficult than keeping many other exotic animals. You should be patient and take care of the animal, and he will delight you with his playful character, wonderful fur and beautiful offspring.