Sunday, 26 February 2012
Meet "Mork" the Mink
At the end of last year you may remember that sadly our elderly male mink passed away. This left our enclosure empty, but we soon were able to offer it to a female mink who had been caught by the Surrey Wildlife Trust. We named her "Mindy"
In the mean time we put the word out for if ever a male mink was available, to offer him a permanent home here too. Earlier this year we received a young male. After a short spell in quarantine, and having him castrated to prevent any breeding, we have now introduced him to Mindy and his new home.
We decided to call him "Mork", and you can see how well he has settled down from the picture above! He has become very friendly in a short period of time, and is now regularly out and about and curious to see what is going on.
Below you can see Tom moving him in to his new enclosure...
American Mink are an introduced species to the UK, first coming over in 1929 for use in the fur-farms. Right from the start there were probable escapees, and certain deliberate releases which followed meant that by as early as the 1950's they were breeding in the UK.
This led to devastation in much of our native wildlife, as the mink ran riot and preyed on many vulnerable species... most famously our water voles which remain one of our fastest declining mammals in this country.
A solitary animal, you normally find that the males have larger ranges which overlap several female territories for the breeding season. They can be active anytime of day, but are most often spotted out at dusk or through the night.
Being a semi-aquatic mammal they do spend a fair amount of time around the water, and their diet will consist of water life, birds, smaller mammals up to the size of a rabbit and sometimes even invertebrates.
They have bad reputation for being a vicious killer for fun and having a mean screechy attitude, where in reality, their ear piercing call is a defense for when startled or in fear. They will often go on a "killing spree" taking as much as they can in a short period of time, but they are just making the most of the resources available.
Although the mink has spread over a lot of the country now, and seems to be thriving in many areas, there is evidence that in some places they are in a decline. This seems to have a possible link with the natural spread and increase of European otters back into some of our habitats
I feel it important that we remember it is not the mink that brought itself over, and we humans created the damage which they now cause by first bringing them here and then in some cases releasing them into the wild. The mink themselves are just making opportunity out of our habitats, and surviving as best they can.
In certain areas of America, the mink is considered a fantastic pet, and are bred in many different colours much like they used to be. Only this time not to be turned into fur coats, but to be collected as rarer pets to show and care for.
I agree with many that the mink should not be wild in this country, and that it does cause much devastation, but I can also admire it as a species trying to survive.
For those of you that have a disliking towards the American mink, perhaps just maybe "Mork" will go some way to show you how pleasant they can be when they are not where they shouldn't be. Mork is full of character, and by spending just a few minutes watching him you will see how playful and superbly adapted he is to their lifestyle and how beautiful their fur coat really is.