A thieving mink

August 4, 2014 • 11:54 am

Minks, ferrets, and other mustelids have an undeservedly bad reputation. Yes, they’re fierce and will attack prey many times their size, but they’re also beautiful: long, slinky animals of gorgeous coat (their undoing) and awesome speed. They’re true evolutionary marvels of carnivory.

In this video, one can see both the ferocity and tenacity of a American Mink (Neovison vison) as it pursues a fisherman’s catch. It not only leaps into a huge plastic buckeet full of water to get a catfish (with a pack of humans nearby), but keeps trying until it drags that huge fish out of the bucket to take home as dinner. Mink have high metabolism, and need to hunt and eat constantly.

The YouTube notes say this:

I caught this video on the pier of lake Ontario in Webster. It’s awesome!! I’ve never seen anything like this before.

How one can make coats out of such an amazing creature is beyond me.


h/t: Jim

38 thoughts on “A thieving mink

  1. Amazing. And now I wonder if you could make something out of catfish hide. Boots perhaps?

    (Jesting, here… I know how soft a catfish is.)

  2. I feel bad for the slow death of the catfish but I do like the mink.

    I saw a mink for the first time last Monday on Toronto Island. I didn’t know we had them here & I had to google it, only to find a recent newspaper article talking about them on Toronto Island. I was still on the ferry when I saw it & wasn’t quick enough with my camera. 🙁

  3. In boyhood days, my good friend found a baby mink and took it home. It was raised as a family pet until maturity, when they called the state wildlife unit who took it away for return to the wild.
    As I remember, it bonded with everyone and seemed tame as any cat or dog.

  4. We have lots of mink in the wetlands around us. Also otters in our ponds and weasels in the woods. When the mink came back, all the opossums disappeared.

  5. “The one good thing that I like about this house, Mabel, is that these people come by with buckets of fresh food and put it right outside my door. I don’t even have to go shopping anymore”.

  6. Members of the weasel family are among the most voracious predators. Killing prey several times their size is all in a days work.

  7. “How one can make coats out of such an amazing creature is beyond me.”

    I’m guessing that minks aren’t nearly as cute when they are savaging a fellow cute, furry mammal :-0

    Granted, I think the mink looks pretty cute, and I adore cats, too. But I’m a bit torn over the fact that they are also vicious, carnivores with no empathy for their prey. And you and I are carnivores, too, just with some empathy, just kind of oddly, and inconsistently applied, I think.

    1. Omnivores, we are – not carnivores and I wouldn’t expect an animal that evolved to eat only prey (obligate carnivore) to have empathy for its dinner.

      I hope I don’t come across as argumentative it’s just that your post struck me as a bit odd even though I understand the conflict you bring up.

      When I admire the magnificence of a jaguar I don’t envision it piercing the skull of a capybara. When I delight at the sight of a farmer’s daughter I don’t consider how her pretty face may seem less so as she beheads a chicken with a quick yank.

      1. “Omnivores, we are – not carnivores”

        True, I could have worded that better. I was trying to point out that both Jerry and I (and most humans, I think) specifically choose to eat meat and use animal products such as leather goods, something that causes the death of many animals, which makes condemning other uses of dead animals a fuzzier line.

        Because of my empathy, I can’t watch nature shows about carnivores killing their prey, especially the ones that seem especially cruel, like watching big cats eat the guts of still living, still suffering prey. And yet I think the big cats are magnificent animals and I was appalled by the photos of that obnoxious, smiling Texas Cheerleader posing with the beautiful lion she shot dead for fun. Yet I still eat meat. Out of sight out of mind? Killing to eat, and the cruelty of it, are part of nature, yet is that sufficient reason for me to do it? And to love and adore carnivorous animals and have them as pets? I find it a conundrum.

        I bring this up because I admit that my empathy, and my morality about when and why it is ok to kill animals, is inconsistent. Jerry’s remarks about minks and coats just reminded me of that. Jerry loves leather western boots, all made from animal hide. They are wonderful pieces of art, and yet why should it be ok to kill cows and other animals to make boots but not kill minks to make coats? My gut agrees with Jerry’s statement, and I can provide a list of why the two are different in quality and quantity, but do I really have a consistent moral principle? Or am I making convenient and self-serving gut reactions and rationalizing that they are different?

        1. I like the comment “How one can make coats out of such an amazing creature is beyond me.”

          Imagine spending your whole life trapped in a cage. Then killed for your skin and fur. I live in Nova Scotia, where over half of the mink fur farms in Canada are located. Here’s a google pin map I made showing them in NS. If you zoom in on one, you get an idea of the size of some of them, There’s one near Berwick, Willowdale farms, with 109 mink sheds. Each of them average about 100 m long each. If put end to end, that’s 22 km of animals suffering in cages. ON ONE FARM.

          The market for the pelts is China and Russia. Ablut 80% in China, where they are made into fur trim for coats more than anything. Also purses, full length coats. The price per pelt is way down this year – about $30 a pelt at last look. Down from $100 a pelt from last year believe it or not. The mink farmers are getting an extension on government loans this year because alot are losing money.

          Fur farms are banned in the UK (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland), The Netherlands (the ban there is undergoing a court challenge), Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Bulgaria, Slovenia, Fur farming is severly limited in Switzerland, Italy, and Germany, where several states haven banned fur farming.

          Google pin map, Fur Farming in The Maritimes:


  8. Most mustelids are extraordinarily beautiful animals (wolverines excepted). Stoats are common in and around my garden, and I never tire of watching them. There must also be weasels around, since one of my cats once killed one and brought it into the house as a gift.

    Beautiful though they are, mink in the UK are a different matter. There is now a large feral population here, originally from escapers from farms, but latterly reinforced by those released after raids on farms by so-called animal rights campaigners. The adverse impact on many native waterside animals, both birds and mammals, has been pretty devastating.

    1. There must also be weasels around, since one of my cats once killed one and brought it into the house as a gift.

      Better than the other way round, methinks.

    2. w
      What is wrong with wolverines?
      I think they are fearless, tenacious, awesome and beautiful.
      They somehow remind me of the honey badgers (ratels) here.

  9. Reminds me of my sister’s pet ferret, who would drag potatoes and tomatoes off to hide in my father or stepmother’s sock drawer for later. (I don’t even know if he could digest a potato, but he knew they were more food-like than, say, Dad’s slippers.)

  10. From the comments on that video, it sounded as if this wasn’t actually the first time a mink had gone after their fish.

  11. “How one can make coats out of such an amazing creature is beyond me.”
    You touched a moot subject there, one possibly deserving some threads in its own right, IMMO.
    But that is what humans do, they even make cloaks out of hundreds of little birds (Hawaii), eat cute little baby sheep, or make boots out of the skin of loveable and amazing animals such as pigs (not to mention giraffes)…
    As they say: “some we love, some we hate and some we eat”. In the book with that very title there is the observation that *good* mice in a lab, protected by all kinds of regulations, become *bad* mice as soon as they accidentally escape. At that moment anything is allowed (ie. anything in the cruelty department).
    Our relationship with other species is somewhat, how shall I say, complex?
    And there are some cultural differences too. Eg. in South East Asia cats and some (not all -but I did not discover on what criterion) dogs are considered food, not pets.
    Note, I have my prejudices too and would not dream of acquiring a mink coat.
    (Nevertheless, -lest I be a hypocrite-: as teenager I had an otter coat found at a flea market: the softest and warmest coat I ever had….)

  12. Many years, I visited a mink farm (we called it a “mink ranch”) on the outskirts of the village in Michigan where I grew up. It probably was some sort of school class trip. According to the Wikipedia on fur farming, Denmark is currently the largest producer of farmed mink. Austria has banned fur farming, and it is being phased out in Croatia and the UK. In Switzerland, the regulations are so strict that there are no fur farms.

  13. That might be one of the minks that hang around our small DIY yacht club on the other side of Irondequoit Bay. We first noticed one 3 years ago, and now several live under our sailboat haulouts and seawall. The minks do an excellent job of scaring away the Canada geese that crap on our lawn. All hail the minks!

  14. Especially in winter, Baihu makes for a wonderful neck warmer — and he’s far more amazing than a mink.

    Think about it for a moment. Which makes for the more dynamic fashion statement: dead minks or a live cat?


    1. At my daughter’s 11th birthday party, all the girls took turns wearing Shaq as a stole and he just ate it up, purring all the while.

      Did anyone see the hilarious Black Adder episode in which BA thinks he’s going to become a Lord and so drags out his ” raiment.” The barmaid at his local points out that it’s not actually ermine, but cat, complete with collars saying Mr. Friskie and the like. Live cat raiment is much to be preferred.

        1. I’m a Black Adder fan as well. I have the whole series & I really should get to watching it all again.

          1. I got the whole series on VHS for $1/ tape when a local video store was going out of business. Then when my 2nd VCR croaked, i bought them all on Dvd. Love Baldruch…”oh, dear, Richard the 3 rd…”

              1. Whoops, Baldrich…

                I’ve got a plan, M’Lord, a cunnnning plan;-)

                Great series to watch when the world seems to be going to hell in a handbasket…

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