While closely related to ferrets, mink have been domesticated for fur farming and not as pets like ferrets and make a very different kind of pet. Mink are semi-aquatic and require a source of water to swim in. They are also very good hunters with much more jaw power than ferrets. We recommend that only experienced exotic animal owners consider purchasing a mink as they can be dangerous and cause injury.
Mink are avid, carnivorous hunters in the wild and will eat any prey it is capable of taking down. A captive kept mink should be provided with a high protein and low carbohydrate diet. This can mean a high quality, high protein ferret or cat food or a raw protein diet. Raw protein diets can sometimes be incomplete and run the risk of spreading bacteria to the animal and humans. Providing (killed) whole prey can offer enrichment and essential nutrients for mink.
As with any animal, you should always provide mink with clean drinking water at all times.
It’s incredibly important that a veterinarian capable of caring for mink be found before deciding to keep one. Mink will need a killed vaccine of distemper and rabies and yearly boosters.
With their high energy and drive to hunt, mink require adequate space to play and stimulation to keep them happy. A multi-level ferret cage might be acceptable at a young age, but activity outside that space will be necessary. Like any animal, the larger the enclosure and activities similar to their life in the wild that you can provide, the more content your mink will be. Mink are semi aquatic, they have webbed feet to assist in swimming, and providing them with access to water to swim in is an excellent form of enrichment. Mink are skilled escape artists and this should be kept in mind when planning housing.
Mink and Other Animals
As mink are natural predators capable of killing animals larger than themselves, they should not be trusted to have contact with small household pets (including but not limited to- fish, small rodents, rabbits, cats and small dogs).
Mink are a native species in many northern states, and may require a permit from the Department of Natural Resources (or the equivalent, i.e. Fish and Wildlife, Fish and Game) in order to keep in captivity in certain states. Michigan DNR requires a wildlife in captivity permit to keep a mink. A call to your state veterinarian’s office will get you the most accurate information on what is required by your state to keep and/or import a mink.