Giant mink enrichment paper published!

12 11 2014

And to clarify, it was the scale that was giant rather than the mink: we worked with 1000s of small cages on local mink farms (our local mink farmers being really great), to run what I think was the largest mammalian enrichment study ever conducted.

We found that mink given two balls and hanging chew for many months became less likely to be barren (if female), they mated for longer (if male; somewhat like Maria’s previous findings), they were less likely to chew their own fur, and they were also calmer around people/novel objects. We didn’t manage to reduce pacing though (I suspect the enrichments were too minimal; with objects this small and cheap, there’s a very fine line between ‘enrichment’ and ‘pointless clutter’).

Aside from some work on lab mice, we believe this is the first study to show what everyone’s long suspected: that enrichment can be beneficial for captive reproduction. This also means that a farmer who enriches his or her mink can expect to be rewarded with $10 000s more profit each year.

Here’s the paper: