Every call the hotline gets regarding mink starts with “I think there’s a ferret or a weasel in my yard/shed/garage/etc.” No one ever thinks that what they are looking at is a mink. Most people think they only live in Russia, or somewhere equally as cold, snowy and remote. Mink actually live right near where we all work and play. Forest Park in St. Louis, the Meremac River banks in South County and Arnold, Columbia River Bottoms, and Lake of the Ozarks are all homes for our native minks. Any river bank will do for these little critters, and sometimes they’ll settle for a large creek, or quiet pond or lake. They primarily eat fish, and keep to themselves, not usually causing much trouble for us humans.
Occasionally though, we’ll get a call from a fisherman, swimmer, hiker, and even the Army Corps of Engineers regarding mink. They tend to create trouble for sandbags and levies from time to time, but it is somewhat rare for them to cause any major structural damage. People run across them in parks and swimming areas and will sometimes see one that it is injured, sick or not doing well for one reason or another. In these cases, we encourage people to call the hotline to get assistance for these little guys. Minks and pretty spread out, few and far between, and their population isn’t as good as it should be. Any mink that can be saved from illness or injury should be taken to a local wildlife rehabilitator, and then re-released back to the wild. Please call the hotline at 1-855-WILD-HELP to find a rehabber near you.
Baby mink are born in April & May here in the Midwest. Mom usually gives birth to 3-6 young in a litter. If you come across a baby mink out in the wild, please leave it be. Mom leaves babies from time to time to go out foraging for her own food. Many times she will hide the kids in a burrow and pull out some of her chest hair to cover them from above while she is gone. As babies get older, but are still dependent on Mom, they wiggle a bit more, and start to get more confident in their abilities. Mom tucks them into bed, covers them up, and heads out to get the groceries, but one or two kids decide they want to see where she’s going and they attempt to follow her. Of course, they cannot keep up with the agility of Mom, and they tire easily, so they end up on the ground, usually near the bank of a water source, exhausted, and they wait for Mom. On Mom’s way home, she’ll run across them and scold them for venturing out on their own. If you get to witness this event, it is quite a special one.
If you find a baby mink, or a litter, that seems unattended, please check back over the course of a few hours before deciding that they are truly orphaned. Don’t move the nest, or Mom will have trouble finding it again, and may not return. If the babies have bugs crawling on them, are injured or bleeding anywhere, or are lying in direct sun, feel cold to the touch (on their body, not the fur), please call the hotline for further instructions @ 1-855-WILD-HELP. Momma Mink is much better at raising her young than any rehabber can hope to be. Whenever possible we sincerely want to have babies remain with their biological Mom. Please keep this in mind when calling the hotline and have patience with us when we have you go through multiple steps in an attempt to reunite babies with Mom before truly accepting that they orphaned.