What Do Minks Eat in the Wild and as Pets?

Minks are exotic pets that are closely related to ferrets. They were originally domesticated as pets due to being part of a fur breeding facility. In recent years, many experienced exotic pet keepers have kept minks in captivity as household pets.

A common problem with keeping minks as pets is that they have special dietary needs that need to be replicated when they are kept as pets. It is difficult to find the right food for them because most pet stores do not sell supplies or food formulated for minks due to their rarity as a regular pet. Choosing the right food for your pet’s coat is important for their health and vitality. This article will tell you everything you need to know about feeding your pet’s fur.

weasel-dividerKeeping Minks as Pets (Wildlife Regulations & Permits)

Important: If you wish to have pet fur, you must make sure it is allowed in your area. Most wildlife conservation centers have restrictions on keeping minks as pets. It is illegal to have a mink as a pet in most states. A general home inspection will most likely be carried out by a wildlife specialist to ensure that you have all the requirements for your mink and proper enclosure layout. You can then apply for a permit which you will then receive once you are deemed responsible enough to have one. Always make sure the mink has been bred and not caught from the wild.

If you plan to import captive mink from different states, then you must ensure that both parties have the correct permits for export and ownership of the exotic mink.

young mink

Various Types of Mink and Their Natural Food

Both European and American minks are kept as exotic pets. Although these are two different species occurring in different natural habitats, their diet is very similar. Both European and American stoats are carnivorous and semi-aquatic which means they need a body of water to hunt most of their food. One of the main differences in the diets of the two species is that the European mink will eat a higher percentage of fibrous plant foods, whereas the American mink will consume less plant when live food is scarce.

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Minks Diet Requirements

Minks are obligate carnivores that eat a variety of meat-based proteins in the form of small rodents, reptiles, insects and amphibians. Minks need a varied diet that is rich in various types of living or freeze-dried. Commercial foods rarely meet all of your pet’s fur dietary requirements, and you need to gain access to appropriate food. In the wild, stoats will store leftover prey in the nest to continue eating them for the next few days. They will hunt for their next prey after the leftovers are no longer fit to eat.

When we specifically analyze the diet of minks, we need to consider the nutrients included in their wild diet. Meat makes up a major aspect of their diet, with other natural foods making up a small percentage. Some European minks will also eat vegetation found in their natural ecosystem during the hotter months. In winter, all minks will consume large amounts of live food that they catch in rivers or in their prey’s burrows.

The diet should be rich in protein and low in carbohydrates to ensure optimal health.

What Do Minks Eat in the Wild?

In the wild the mink will choose an area that has many food sources available. They will then make their nests in the area where they will hunt. Their wild diet is simple and mostly contains the following foods:

  • frog

  • Waterfowl

  • mouse

  • rabbit

  • squirrel

  • Fish

  • snake

  • muskrat

  • Crayfish

  • Vole

  • salamander

Snakes part of their diet; however, it has been observed that most minks will catch and kill snakes but not eat them. They may also drag the snake to their nest where they will leave the snake carcass with the rest of their food.

Minks will mainly hunt in rivers or streams and are good at hunting their prey quickly. Aquatic life becomes more prominent in their diet during winter when land animals usually hibernate in closed burrows or caves.

Their main hunting strategy is to get behind their prey to deliver a quick bite to its neck which is a quick and painless death for an unsuspecting prey. Some animals such as rats and waterfowl are too big for them to eat in one meal and they will drag the remains to their nests along the riverbank.

  • Also Read: Mink vs Ferret: What’s the Difference? (With Pictures)

What Feeds Minks in Captivity?

Understanding how to feed your pet mink in captivity can be expensive and it is important to note that most of their natural food sources are not readily available on the commercial market and you will have to improvise by finding foods that contain the same nutrients they will receive. from their natural diet.

In captivity, you can feed them food made for cats or ferrets. Most ferret diets will contain similar nutrients that both species can benefit from because they are so closely related. It is very important to only feed ferret pet mink or high quality cat food. If you decide to feed mink cat food as your primary commercial diet, then wet food is best. Cat pellets are usually of low quality and don’t have the right amount of protein that your pet’s coat needs.

In addition to commercial food, you should also supplement your mink’s diet with feeder fish from the pet store, frogs, and live rats or mice. Most pet stores will stock this food for reptiles such as snakes.

Minks are not suitable pets for those who have difficulty feeding live food to pets. Minks should be fed live creatures at least 3 times a week in addition to their high quality commercial food. Your mink will also enjoy catching live prey which can be placed in their water or released in their enclosure to promote hunting which in return will meet your mink’s enrichment needs.

Here is a breakdown of the main foods your mink should be feeding in captivity:

  • Cat food: Purina Fancy Feast, Whole Earth Turkey Cat Food, or Wellness Complete Chicken and Lobster
  • Captive frogs: pet shop or online seller of feeder frogs

  • Ferret Meals: Marshall Premium Ferret Meals, ZuPreem Grain-free Ferret Meals, or Mazuri Ferret Meals

  • Feeder fish: goldfish

  • Feeding rodents: rats, mice, hamsters

  • Bird chop: grocery store

  • Raw meat-based dog food: Purebites Chicken, Purebites Salmon Freeze-dried, or Stella & Chewys Duck Dinner

  • Related Read: Mink as a Pet: 11 Things You Should Know Before Getting One


There are various food options that you can give your pet mink. If you feed them the right types of food, your mink will benefit from having a strong immune system, proper growth and development, and shiny coat. Of all the commercial, mink can eat foods, cat and dog food are the most recommended choices along with frogs, feeder fish, and rodents, or bird cutlets as a staple diet.

Once you have completed a good dietary ratio of food for your mink, you will be rewarded for their overall health and beauty.

Featured Image Credit: Gallinago_media, Shutterstock

What Do Minks Eat in the Wild and as Pets?
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