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Introducing Frasier the American mink! Jessi shares how Frasier came to Animal Wonders, what his personality is like, discusses the difficulties of rescuing and housing him, and the hopes for his future.

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Hi, I'm Jessi, and this is Animal Wonders! We rescue displaced exotic animals and we give them a permanent home where they can live out their lives in health and happiness. Most of you know this, but I'm saying it because it's the number one goal of our organization, followed closely by educational presentations about the animals we rescue.

About two months ago, we got a call from a local humane society asking if we could take in an American mink.

If you don't know anything about minks, here's your crash course: mustelid, or weasel-like, cute, extremely aggressive, and number one provider for fur farms.

My initial response was no, not because we didn't want to provide him a home, but because it would be unlikely that we'd be able to provide him a good enough home, and we'd probably never be able to use him for education.

But I tentatively said yes because I knew the only other option was for him to be euthanized, and while this is sometimes necessary, these situations, I felt like I at least needed to give him a chance.

When I went to go pick him up, he was already in a crate. It was a small crate like this and I was expecting him to feel defensive because he'd probably feel trapped in such a small space. Instead, he was the perfect picture of relaxation, which was awesome!

I was immediately excited to get to know this mink. But then my thoughts went to: where were we going to house him if he's going to become a permanent resident at Animal Wonders? We didn't really have a place to put him-- well, I mean, we didn't have a nice, big, permanent enclosure ready to go for him. But when I saw how relaxed he was in the small crate, I realized that he was going to be comfortable in a smaller enclosure-- at least temporarily while we figured out what we were going to do.

So we repurposed a ferret enclosure and we set it up with blankets and hammocks and stuffed toys and a litter box. He liked it! But it's definitely not ideal and we want to build him a much larger space. Ideally, we want to work in free contact, so building an enclosure that we can walk into would be perfect.

Over the last few months I've learned so much about who he is. On the first day, I learned that he was a he and that his anal glands were intact. I'd given him a crinkly toy and he stepped on it, which surprised him it and caused him to spray.

The spray stinks, but probably not as much as you might imagine. It kinda smells like intense male cat urine, so not good but bearable.

Here's a question: What do you think comes first when working with an animal? Trust or training?

It's actually training, because trust has to be earned. And I earn an animal's trust by many positive interactions using training as our medium.

He's already learned a few behaviors, including "target" where he touches his nose to the place I ask him to, "paw" where he places his paw on the bars so I can check his toes, "crate" where he goes into his crate, and we're working on "circle" and he's getting it.

After about a month of getting to know his this way, I named him Frasier, because!

He also started using his litter box, which is seriously fantastic! Unfortunately, he also likes playing with his litter box by tipping it over and shoving it around.

I had a lot of fun working on earning Frasier's trust and I'm so glad that we said yes to taking him in!

Currently, American mink are mainly known for two things: being very aggressive predators and having soft, thick fur to make into luxury clothing. Which is why we'd like to be able to do public presentations with Frasier.

Wouldn't it be great if we could teach about all the things that are interesting about them? Like how they are semi-aquatic, nocturnal, and can hunt prey larger than themselves! They're obligate carnivores, meaning they truly only eat meat. And when hunting for fish, they can dive up to 16 feet deep.

Mink have a double coat of fur. The under layer is soft and thick, keeping them warm. The outer layer is made of oily guard hairs that are waterproof, keeping them dry.

They hiss and snarl when they're angry, but they purr when they're happy.

They have these awesome scent glands that they can spray for defense like a skunk, but unlike a skunk, sadly, minks cannot aim their stinks.

See, American mink are so interesting! I'm happy to be able to share Frasier the American mink with you all. I'm excited about his future and I can't wait to continue to improve the quality of his life in whatever ways I can.

I hope you had fun learning fun about Frasier this week, and if you'd like to go on an adventure with us every week, subscribe to our YouTube channel, Animal Wonders Montana. If you have any questions for me, you can leave them in the comments below or you can find me on Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook throughout the week.

Thanks, guys!


This little guy is the one that had retained almost all of his shed. You can see he has rubbed some of it off over the last week, but he's still retaining quite a bit of it.