Take Back Your Mink

After my mother died, I saw her everywhere.  I followed people whose hair reminded me of hers before shaking off the idea that it might somehow be her. This kind of reaction is completely normal, and in a way comforting after a loss, but I never expected to feel similarly about a few muskrats.

Earlier this year I thought I saw a weasel of some kind around the pond, and one day I got a good view. It was a mink. They are very handsome animals, and I don’t think most people think of them as weasels although they are a member of the same family. They think of them as coats. Weasels, of course, have a bad reputation and it isn’t nice to call someone a weasel, or be called one yourself. The insult is intended to mean “sneaky and low-down”. Weasels are also considered (by farmers especially) to be cruel and needless killers. Because they often “scalp” their prey and simply leave it, people think that the weasel kills for sport. Not so-he kills and returns later to eat the prize. He’s not fussy about a little putrification, and he also “caches” his food.  A farmer who wakes to a hen house full of scalped chickens regards the weasel as the worst kind of varmint, and the natural history of it is of little importance to him.  But a weasel has to kill when the opportunity presents itself, and also have a little something to fall back on. You never know when a meal is going to come along and a mink has a high metabolism. Think of them as the Holly Golightly of the animal world. And I think I remember that Holly Golightly had a really nice mink coat.

Minks are solitary, except during breeding, at which time they virtually define the word “promiscuous”, with both males and females mating as much as possible, with as many partners as possible. So the gene pool is nice and healthy, and the DNA for survival very strong.  These animals are smart and canny predators, eating fish torpid from cold during winter and switching to slower, more defenseless animals in warm weather. Which brings me back to the muskrats.  Mink will eat anything, but they really love muskrat.  Also, “abandoned” muskrat lodges make swell mink houses. So I think it is pretty clear what happened to the Hill-Stead muskrat family. Of course, muskrats need water that covers them. Our pond is getting more shallow all the time, so the muskrat days were numbered in any case.

For a while, I saw the muskrats in my imagination, too.  But, as with my mother, I finally had to accept that they were gone. In the hierarchy of small mammals, the mink with its sensitive nose and killer instinct has it all over the poor vegetarian muskrat, who just likes to noodle around the pond eating weeds. And even in the hierarchy of coats, the mink is the trophy outerwear, the muskrat for wannabe’s.  

But nature has a way of equalizing things, and the mink may eventually be taken by a coyote or even an owl. And then I’ll miss the mink.

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8 Responses to “Take Back Your Mink”

  1. Bridget Willard Says:

    Great post!

  2. Marilyn Says:

    Diane, great post! I saw a mink farm once in PA and was very upset. All the females were in small cages and the male had a large cage with a “hall” type concept, were her could enter and exit all the framles cages, but the females could not (I can’t remember exactly why) but they were so cute, and only being raised for “savage luxury!”

  3. wildlifewatcher Says:

    This is a thoughtful, sensitive and kind post. Good job!

  4. Patsy Says:

    How very interesting. Wild mink on the property. Loved reading this one.

  5. Sally Says:

    Beautifully written, Diane, and a wonderful story. Thanks! (And thank goodness I don’t have minks around my henhouse!)

  6. Cindy Says:

    I think I saw him (her?) swimming in the pond the other day – Is the mink going after the baby ducks too? We need some animal that eats ticks and barberry! Thanks, Diane, love your blog!

  7. Bill Says:

    Thank you for the wonderful post, I really liked how you pulled everything together. I’m new to your website but am very glad I found it. I will return!

    Bill:www.wildramblings.com

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