Monday, February 20, 2012

Magical Mink Moments

I was treated to a glimpse into the private life of a mink yesterday, a glorious morning, in Berlin, MA. While walking along a beaver pond, I saw it bound across the ice and dive into the water. I waited for it to surface, watched it shake itself dry, then bound, dive, emerge, and shake again, repeating the sequence several more times, always emerging with nothing. Finally, he (for I was pretty sure by the size that this was a male) came over to the edge of a pond and, a mere 20 feet from me, spent the next several minutes rolling, grooming, and luxuriating on a rotting log. The unobstructed view of this creature was breath taking -- I could see the white spot on the chin, the rich brown fur soaking in the sunlight, and the bits of wood splintering off the log as the animal wriggled contentedly, much like my cat rolls on the gravel driveway.

When sufficiently clean and dry, he walked straight to a large tree at the edge of the pond, and dug out a small dark, vole sized creature, as if he had known all along where to get an easy meal. A cache? Had he been hoping for something fresh and aquatic, before resorting to this? I watched as he enjoyed his meal. My view was partially obstructed, for he had settled among some thickets to feed in safety, but I was close enough to hear him chew.

Once satisfied, he hurried to and fro along the shore awhile, busily exploring, then paused in rapt attention over some woody debris, peering down between the fallen branches. He pursued for several minutes, and I could hear a sort of low, harsh hissing sound - the hapless victim, I think, in desperate effort to sound formidable. Finally, the mink captured the noble creature and carried it off triumphantly, out of sight, perhaps to cache it elsewhere.

The whole event lasted 20-30 minutes and most of it was only 20 feet
away from me. I had barely moved, and with the breeze rolling up the
bank into my face, I don't think the mink ever noticed me.

I thought about all those minky scats found on logs near water, and no longer wondered why it was that an animal would go out of its way to get up onto a log before relieving itself. (Do they REALLY "mark" prominent places with conscious intention?) Because I no longer think they do. It looks to me like if you're a mink, a high and dry log by the water is a fine place for sunning, grooming, and relaxing after a chilly dive, and you poop there because that's where you happen to be when it's time for number 2.

The photo shows the view from where I was standing. The rolling and
grooming took place on one of those logs. You'll have to imagine the
mink -- I did not want to scare him off by attempting to get a picture.



  1. Oooooh. Lucky you, Janet. What a thrill to be able to have an extended viewing like that. You were in the right place at the right time. I appreciate your very descriptive observations; it was almost like being there myself.

  2. Yes, it was just the right place at the right time. I actually returned the next morning at the same time, hoping that the mink has a routine. I stood waiting for 30 minutes, this time determined to get a photo, but all I saw were a couple of chickadees flitting about.

  3. I loved reading about your adventure and felt as if I, too, were hidden, watching with you. No photo was needed at all. Beautifully written!