How to breed mink

Adult minks are almost untamable, but young ones readily submit to handling and are easily domesticated. The time to secure young minks is in May and June, when they begin to run with their dams. The streams must be quietly watched for mink trails, and then tracked to the nest. When they leave the hole the old one may be shot, and the young ones secured, or they may be dug out. Those who own a breeding stock of minks ask high prices for them; but trappers represent to us that it is an easy matter to get the wild young ones. Habits - A successful breeder says that he does not attempt to tame a wild mink, but only aims to supply for it in a small space all the necessities of its national instincts. He says the mating season commences about the first of March, and lasts two weeks, never varying much from that date.

The female carries her young about six weeks. IN the minkery, where diet, water, temperature, etc. are similar with each animal, there is so little difference in the time of mating and time of bearing young in different animals, that five out of six litters dropped last spring, were born within twelve hours of each other. The young are blind from four to five weeks, but are very active and playful as kittens. The mother weans them at from eight to ten weeks old. At four weeks the mother begins to feed them meat; this they learn to suck before they have teeth to eat it.

The nests in which the young are born are lined by the mother with some soft material, and are made in the hollow of some old stump, or between the projecting roots of some old tree and always where it is perfectly dry. The nest is located near pure running water, which the mother visits twice every twenty-four hours. She feeds her young on frogs, fish, birds, mice, crabs, etc., etc. The mink is from birth a pattern of neatness and cleanliness, and as soon as a nest begins to get foul and offensive, she takes one of the young in her mouth and depositing it in a clean suitable place, builds a nest about it, and then brings the balance of the litter. She feeds and cares for them until they are three and a half or four months old. When the young are weaned, about the 10th of July, she builds her nest near the water, in which the young soon learn to play. There are usually four in a litter, though the number ranges from two six. Towards fall the mother separates them into pairs. One pair - or if the number be odd, the odd ones - is left in the nest; the other pair of pairs, she places often half a mile from each other, and then seeks new quarters for herself.

The young soon separate, and each one catches his own frogs, etc. They do not pair, but the male is a sort of rover and free-lover. Minks are unsociable, petulant, vicious in play, savage in war. Late in the fall they establish regular runaways from one stream to another, and usually under brush, fallen trees, weeds, swale, and under banks - anywhere, in fact, where they can avoid the sunshine and escape the chances of observation. The mink is a sure prophet and just before hard winter begins, he lays by a store of food for the winter in safe places near his winter nests, of which he has several. As the snows fall he burrows under the snow, where he remains until about February, when his supply of food is exhausted and he is forced to seek further for food.

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