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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Is there a mink in the house? A story about cute furry creatures.

I'm sorry there are no pictures to accompany this story, but when you have a family of minks living in your shop, you never know when they are going to appear, and they disappear just as fast. There is no time to get a camera.

Update, One of the reasons I never took pictures is because Minks don't really want me noticing them. They tolerate me only because I don't follow them around, and other than talking to them if they are watching me, I don't move when I see them. When they are walking over, or around me, I don't move a muscle, and they don't feel threatened.

Today I tried to take pictures. It really shook them up, because I was following them, and the flash kept going off. These were taken with my cell phone. The inside ones came out terrible because they were moving too fast and trying to get away from me, so most of them are either very blurry, or just a tail disappearing under something. The best ones were when they decided to escape out the door to get away from me. I will probably never try to photograph them again.

Mink are very common where I live, and most people have seen them a lot, but for two years, I have had one sharing my shop with me. The one in my shop is very tiny, smaller than a ferret, but so far, she seems very healthy, and has had a litter each year.

Minks are related to ferrets, but rather than being social, they are solitary. My little friend tolerates me, but I think she would rather I left the building all to her. She isn't at all afraid, and if I am in the way, (minks seem to be always in a hurry when they aren't sleeping), she will run right over the top of me to get where she is going.

My shop is in a huge building like a barn, which used to be a Clam Factory. It is built on rock pilings over the ocean, with land on only one side. In part of it, there is an upstairs, and there is insulation tacked loosely up on the ceiling in one place. Apparently the mink decided the insulation was warm and cozy, and safe from predators. There are also lots of places where she can easily slip in and out, and dive for crabs to eat right under the building. (She is very cute when she is diving, we can watch her through the windows).

Well, last year was the first year she had babies in the shop, and she picked a place where two pieces of insulation come together. Luckily, it is over a very thick rug, because every once in a while, a baby would fall through and land on the rug. If I was there, I would pick it up with a towel and lay it, and the towel on the floor upstairs, and I would hear her run across the floor and carry it back to the nest.

One couple who knew about her used to come a lot hoping to see her. One day, I told them she was out catching crabs for the babies. They looked at me like I was nuts, like how did I know she was catching crabs???!!! It was so funny when a few minutes later, the woman said "Oh, look"! And there she was standing there, a little tiny animal, with a great big crab hanging out of her mouth! She stood there and looked at us for a while, as if to say "what are you doing here", and then trotted by us toward the stairs, with the crab in her mouth.

She moved the babies out in early August last year, and I would see her outside occasionally.

This year, she had the babies somewhere else, but something must have threatened her den, (we have a lot of foxes, fishers, one bear, and now a coyote in the neighborhood), because yesterday, she was back with three babies as big as her.

I pretty much stayed out of her way yesterday because I didn't want to shake her, or the babies up. This morning, I could hear them running around upstairs, and she was in and out a lot.

This afternoon, I heard scuffling and ferret noises coming from around the corner, so I went and looked. All three babies were running around, playing and rolling around "attacking" each other. They were rolling around under my feet where I was standing, and using me for a hiding place. Once in a while, they would stop and sniff my feet and put their tiny paws up on my legs and sniff and look at me. The mother just stood there and looked at me, probably wishing I would leave. Finally the babies and mother went upstairs for a nap.

Later in the afternoon, I was working on a card, and I saw something fall right near me, and heard a plop. We have a leak, and I had a bucket under it, and it had about an inch of water in it. I looked in the bucket, and there was a little mink, scrambling to get out. I scooped it out, and it stood there for a second, getting it's bearings, then ran back up the stairs. Now mink have scent glands, and they sure are ripe when they are scared. My hands really stunk!!!

Well, now the bucket is empty and not under the leak anymore, so I hope it doesn't rain, but I really don't want to drown one of those cute little guys either. I wonder what kind of trouble they will get into tomorrow???!!!

I just keep wondering how anyone can buy a fur coat. It would take hundreds of them to make one full length coat. We have had a number of ferrets, and they are unbelievably similar as far as actions, noises and intelligence go. It's just that they are solitary wild animals, while ferrets are social and can be domesticated. I feel so lucky to have had this experience!


Myrna said...

What a cute story. You must have such fun watching her and her babies. Animals are so much fun to watch.

Maria A. said...

Hello Kathi: I too wonder how in the worlk would anyone buy a mink or any other kind of fur coat. To me, the fur looks better on the animals. You are incredibly lucky to be able to witness such beauty and this little family of minks surely feel totally safe with you around. Maybe you should have a camera handy so you can take some pictures of your little guests. Thank you so much for this wonderful story.

Marge said...

What a sweet story, Kathi! I love all baby animals; they are so precious! Guess that comes from growing up on a farm. How wonderful that you get to share your shop with such lovely creatures; you're lucky to have them and they you -- enjoy every moment!!!

Olga said...

this is amazing, I didn't know this, what they looked like, how they loved or anything, thanks for sharing!

Sasha said...

Hi Kathi, it sickens me to think that humans can kill such beautiful animals to wear their fur...wicked!
Your little minks are soooo adorable x