A mink might seem like a big, aquatic ferret with incredibly soft fur, but just because you can care for a ferret does not mean you can care for a mink. Pet mink require dedication, patience, and a thorough understanding of their unique needs. If you’re considering sharing your life with a mink and want to learn the ins and outs of their care, then dive in because you’re in the right place.
Are pet mink legal in your state? Before you even consider keeping a mink as a pet, you need to look into legality. Not every state allows pet mink. Even if your state does, there may be restrictions within your city, county, or even your HOA. Keep in mind, all of the information given regarding pet mink is for captive born mink, not wild born. PLEASE DO NOT TAKE WILD MINK IN AND TRY TO MAKE THEM PETS. If you find a wild mink in need of assistance, please find a rehabber immediately. You can find rehabbers by contacting your local wildlife department. You can also download ANIMAL HELP NOW on your phone and search that way.
Just because mink look like ferrets doesn’t mean they are ferrets. While it may be tempting to put a pet mink in a cage made for ferrets, this is not something you should do for any reason other than quarantine purposes. Mink are wide roaming, active, aquatic animals and their enclosure requirements reflect these traits.
Minks, by nature, are aquatic animals, which means having water features in their enclosures is a must. Your pet mink’s water features should be diligently maintained, kept clear of fecal matter and leftover food by cleaning daily.
According to the AZA Mustelid care manual, the recommended land-to-water ratio for minks should be at least 4:1 for smaller enclosures on an 8:1 ratio for larger exhibits.
Water features for mink should not be any shallower than 1.2 feet. Once again, mink are aquatic animals who love to swim. While most mustelids only need water features about as deep are, Mink are the exception!
It’s important to design the water-land boundaries with a slope to facilitate the mink’s easy movement in and out of the water. Making a varied shoreline in your mink’s enclosure, as opposed to just a straight line, is also ideal. Make sure to add rocks, boulders, logs, and/or ramps for both enrichment purposes and to make it easier for your mink to enter and exit its water feature!
“Pool water for this species [American Mink] should be maintained at a neutral or basic level. This is because they are highly susceptible to methylmercury toxicity, and acidic water methylates mercury, whereas, methylation is reduced as pH increases” (AZA Mustelid Care Manual).
Unlike ferrets, mink aren’t pets that you can just give some kibble and call it a day. Mink are obligate carnivores, and thus should not be fed any kind of plant matter. A diet rich in proteins is crucial, which means providing a wide varity of meats.
it’s crucial to understand that not all meats offer the same benefits. Muscle meat, for instance, is a source of essential amino acids and certain minerals. In contrast, organ meats like liver, kidneys, and heart are densely packed with vitamins and other crucial nutrients that muscle meat might lack. Therefore, a balance between muscle and organ meat is essential to ensure the mink receives a rounded diet, providing all the vital nutrients necessary for their wellbeing.
80% muscle meat.
10% raw bone that is small enough to chew through–non weight bearing bones are best to keep them from breaking a tooth.
5% organ meat such as kidney, spleen, brain, etc.
Here at Exotic Pet Wonderland, we feed our mink an all raw diet.
Right now we mainly feed our mink raw eggs, raw chicken, raw turkey, raw beef, whole prey baby chicks, mice, hamsters, etc. As for treats, we feed our mink freeze dried raw treats or duck jerky.
As mink are aquatic animals, one might assume that a large portion of a mink’s diet should be made up of fish. However, this would be incorrect. While fish make a good treat or occasional appetizer, feeding your pet mink a significant amount of fish is a bad idea for a few reasons.
If you are still wanting to feed your mink fish, trout, salmon, and carp are all ok options.
Before obtaining a pet mink, you must already have a veterinarian on board who has experience caring for mink. Although they might look similar, mink are not ferrets, and most vets who see ferrets will not see mink. Be ready to dedicate time to researching and identifying a vet who specializes in zoological medicine and has experience working with these animals.
Minks, similar to other wild animals, have a talent concealing their ailments until they are too severe to do so any longer. As a result, you might not know something is wrong with your pet mink until it becomes an emergency. With this in mind, it is beneficial to establish care with more than one veterinarian if possible so that you should your primary vet not be available in an emergency, you will have a backup.
Introducing your mink to the vet at a young age and ensuring that vet visits are positive experiences will make vet visits easier and safer for all parties involved.
The first dose of the rabies vaccine should be given to your pet mink at 16 weeks, and then either annually or every three years depending on if your pet received ImRAB-1 or ImRAB-3.
Mink should only receive killed rabies virus vaccines
Your mink should be vaccinated for Feline Panleukopenia with a killed vaccine at 12 weeks of age. The FPV-1Ò Feline Panleukopenia Vaccine is recommended and your pet mink must be vaccinated annually.
Mink have been known to get vaccine induced distemper from receiving modified live distemper vaccines. For this reason, their distemper vaccines must be killed. We recommend the canarypox vectored Purevax Ferret Distemper vaccine by Merial, which we recommend for gray foxes as well.
Aleutian Disease (ADV) is a type of parvovirus that is a major concern for mink owners. ADV affects both captive bred and wild mink worldwide and is incredibly contagious. When a mink contracts this disease, symptoms can vary based on the age of the animal. In adult minks, ADV leads to weight loss, reduced reproductive success, noticeable changes in their fur quality, oral and digestive bleeding, and kidney issues, among other symptoms. Meanwhile, baby mink can experience severe respiratory problems.
It’s worth noting that minks with lighter-colored coats, like pastel shades, are genetically more prone to this disease. ADV virus spreads in various ways, from direct contact between mink to exposure to infected blood, saliva, or even through contaminated objects and pests like flies or mosquitoes. ADV can be easily transmitted between mink and ferrets, and caution should be taken when bringing mink into homes with ferrets. As a slow-developing illness, it might be a while before symptoms become apparent. Unfortunately, there is no cure or vaccine for ADV at the moment.
Prevention primarily involves testing minks and euthanizing those that test positive to control the spread. It’s essential to maintain clean and sanitized conditions for minks and to be cautious with equipment and handling. Finally, while rare, Aleutian disease from mink can affect humans as well.
If you are keeping a male and female mink together, getting your female mink spayed is a must. Neutering a male mink, however, is not recommended as the female mink will still go through hormonal changes and false pregnancies whether the male is fixed or not.
Spaying and neutering pet mink for any other reason is unnecessary. Sterilizing your mink will not make them less smelly or less aggressive.