Mink are not native to our country, they are American mink (Neovison vison), which originatedfrom mink brought here for fur-farming in the 1920s. There is a popular misconception that the UK’s American mink population originated from animals released from fur farms by animal rights activists, In fact the wild population was established decades earlier from multiple escapes all over the country but it may have subsequently been helped by the illegal releases in the 1990s.
Mink vary in colour but are usually an attractive reddish brown or black with a white patch on their throat and chest. They have a fluffy tail and are a similar in size to polecats and ferrets, but sometimes quite a bit larger. Having webbed feet they swim well and are much smaller than Otters, which often swim under the water whereas the Mink swims with half its body above water. The muzzle is slightly pointed.
Mink live and take refuge in burrows, often created by rabbits. They will kill most small domestic and wild animals such as wild and pet Rabbits, Mice, Mice, Rats, Voles (particularly Water Vole which are often part of its staple diet) Chickens, Water Hens, Ducks, Kingfishers and even Geese and Swans. Often the first sign is that your domestic animals have been attacked, this event can be mistaken for the activity of a Fox, Badger, Stoat or Rat and by scouring the area you may identify Mink droppings or Footprints can be seen in river banks streams mud or snow. Footprints are five-toed and around 3-3.5cm wide and 2.5-4cm long.
Droppings are 2-3 inches long, a twisted shape, blackish green containing small bones, feathers or fur.
Other than the fact that Mink frequent open sewers and drainage ditches and eat rats Mice, Voles, Birds etc which in itself indicates the potential for them to be carrying several types of pathogens Mink are known to carry Aleutian Disease which is not considered to be common in humans, however two mink farmers with vascular disease and microangiopathy similar to that in mink with Aleutian disease were found to have AMDV-specific antibodies and AMDV DNA. These findings raise the suspicion that AMDV may play a role in human disease.
Earlier this year we caught 9 Mink in 9 weeks at one location. This does indicate that there is a very strong population out ther. We are currently carrying out monitoring and control of Mink in two local rivers to aid the Environment Agencies endeavours to protect the numbers of Water Vole in the area, indications continue to point to the fact that that the population of Mink is strong.
Mink are meat eaters and this means more or less anything, being expert hunters they can devastate stocks of fish, various Water Fowl, Kingfishers, Water Voles and domestic animals such as Chickens, Ducks and family pets.
Mink are long livers (10 to 12 years) in captivity but more likely to live to 3 or 4 years in the wild and they have few predators giving them a good chance of successfully increasing their numbers year on year.
They certainly do, mink are powerful animals and if cornered or touched by mistake they can inflict a very painful and deep wound. As with most wild animals though more importantly is that any bite scratch or infection of open wounds can transmit pathogens causing many types of dangerous disease.
Mink are known to enter attics and we have witnessed this at times, they are excellent climbers, however this is not a common problem. Check for holes in vents, drain covers, unsealed old pipe runs, damaged drainage systems, climbing plants and wooden structures that allow them to climb up towards the roof line, sealing, repairing or covering these defects with mesh will help your cause.
Mink have an average of 4 young but this can be as high as 10. They are born between April and June and are weaned after five weeks to begin hunting at 8 weeks, the young then commence breeding at 10 months.
Mink trapping is usually a job for an experienced pest controller. It is critical that the target species is identified correctly, many people have never seen a Mink and are not familiar with their tracks which often results in an incorrect identification. Mink tend to be in the area that you also find Water Vole and Otter which are strictly protected. Trapping is often carried out with the aid of a Mink raft, a monitor and a live catch trap, this requires regular visits to identify the presence of Mink, once spotted monitoring is followed by a trapping plan with daily visits, when caught the Mink must be despatched of in the recommended manor, the law forbids you from releasing them.
Mink will have no problem attacking and killing domestic animals such as Cats, Rabbits, Guinea Pigs, Chickens, Ducks, Aviary Birds etc. They may attack during both day and night times. The only way to combat this is to be vigilant and act as soon as you suspect the presence of Mink.
There are many ‘mammal deterrent’ products on the market such as Sonic bleepers that emit a high frequency sound, there are also Sprays, Dusts, Granular Formulations etc HOWEVER! You guessed it, we have found all of these to be ineffective and quite frankly a waste of money.
EN 16636 CERTIFICATION