What Do Minks Eat?

Do you wonder what minks do eat? The menu of these carnivores varies on different factors like habitat, species and season. In this article, you will find everything you need to know about the minks’ diet.

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mink eating frog

The Minks Diet – An Overview

What minks eat depends not only on the exact species (European or American mink) but also mainly on the season. Additionally, the habitat has a large influence on the diet. That said, minks are carnivores and only occasionally interested in vegetables and fruits.

Minks are semiaquatic animals that like to spend time in the water. In most times their territory contains a lake, pond, river or stream in some form.

They are very good climbers as well. High trees and walls of rocks are no obstacles for minks. They also like to burrow and capture dens from other animals like rabbits, ground squirrels, chipmunks, weasels and raccoons.

You see all those abilities open possibilities to hunt prey. No wonder that the menu of minks contains a wide range of small mammals like rodents, fish, amphibia, reptilia, birds and insects.

They are passionate hunters that see the search for food as a game. Often minks hunt and kill animals that are larger than themselves and they don’t stop after it’s done.

When food in large amounts is available, minks start to hunt and kill again, before eating, right after they “finished” their last prey.

For owners of livestock like chickens or rabbits, minks can become a real nightmare that causes huge damage. Even pet owners are afraid for their cats and small dogs.

What Do Minks Eat In The Winter?

As I mentioned, the menu of minks depends on what’s available and changes with the seasons. Typically in winter, there is less supply of food and a mink has to eat what it can get.

Water is frozen, migrating birds have flown away with their offspring in autumn and many mammals are hibernating. Hard times for a hungry mink.

Often small mammals on the search for food are the only meal available. There’s definitely less variety. Minks also use their dens to store food from the summer for winter. But there is one big disadvantage: They really love fresh food. But if winter is harsh and they have no choice they will also feed on older leftovers.

What Do Minks Eat In The Summer?

In the summer food for minks is there in abundance. They can hunt birds on trees, fish in the water and mammals on the ground and they will do everything of it.

As minks like to swim and live on the waterside, aquatic animals like fish, crayfish and other invertebrates, amphibia and water insects are the main dish in the summer months.

What Do Minks Eat In The Taiga Biome?

What minks eat in the taiga can be compared with what they eat in the winter in temperate climates.

Summers are short and so is the time minks can go for a hunt in water. More than elsewhere they depend on the storage of food they gathered in the warm months.

Additionally, they have to hunt rodents like mice under a deep layer of snow. Not something that makes it easier.

But summers are typically rich in amphibia, insects and fish in these regions.

Complete List Of Things Minks Eat

Gathering a complete list of things that minks eat is more than difficult. Imagine a predator that hunts every other animal it sees. But no worries, I will still give you a large list, that gives a good summary.

Mammals:

  • Beavers
  • Cats
  • Chipmunks
  • Mice 
  • Moles
  • Muskrats
  • Rabbits
  • Raccoons
  • Rats
  • Skunks
  • Squirrels
  • Voles
  • Weasels

Fish and aquatic animals:

  • Bass
  • Carp
  • Craps
  • Lobsters
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Mussels
  • Shrimps
  • Trouts

Birds:

  • Chickens
  • Ducks and baby ducks
  • Eggs
  • Mallards
  • Moorhens
  • Pheasants
  • Pigeons
  • Sparrows
  • Swans
  • Turkeys

Amphibia:

  • Frogs
  • Hellbenders
  • Newts
  • Salamanders

Reptilia:

  • Lizards
  • Snakes
  • Turtles

Insects and invertebrates:

  • Caterpillars
  • Crickets
  • Beetles
  • Flies
  • Grasshoppers
  • Slugs
  • Worms

Plants (applies more to the European mink):

  • Apples
  • Beets
  • Berries
  • Carrots
  • Cherries
  • Corn
  • Fruits
  • Peanuts
  • Pears

How Do Minks Kill And Hunt Their Prey

Minks have large territories with multiple dens. Sometimes they stalk and trail their prey over long distances before they start their attack.

As I mentioned before, minks like the game of hunting and they don’t necessarily stop after killing their first prey.

Killing itself is mostly done with a strong bite into the animals’ neck.

In the video below, you can see how a mink goes after some rats.

If you are wondering if minks make good pets now, you should read my article first.

Do Minks Eat Animals Whole?

No, minks kill prey that is as large or even larger than themselves. Accordingly, they eat bite after bite and the biggest part of the prey is left over.

Often they will leave the cadaver just where it is and start over killing a new victim right away. But when winter comes, it might be, that they store some meat in one of their dens.

How Much And Often Do Minks Eat?

Minks like to hunt and they do it often. But compared to the size and amount of their prey, they eat only a little. In many cases, they only take just a few bites from each animal, the rest is leftover.

However, a healthy mink will chase food every day.

Only in winter, when food is scarce minks eat whole animals or store leftovers until they are hungry again.

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