Minks are adorable, lively animals with tons of personality. Yet very few people keep them as pets, and for good reason. Although they've been raised in captivity for generations, minks are still essentially wild animals. Having been bred for fur quality, not pet quality, even farm-raised minks are much the same as their wild ancestors. They're still equipped with all the instincts that would allow them to thrive in the wild, not be a pet in someone's home.
Beyond any pet qualities a mink may have, they're illegal to keep in many areas. Many states and localities prohibit keeping native animals as pets, or have other laws regulating the keeping of wild and exotic pets. Keeping a mink may require a permit, which in some cases is nearly impossible to obtain. Although people sometimes look to minks as pets in areas where keeping ferrets is illegal, laws regarding pet minks are generally more restrictive. It all depends on your locality. Before considering a mink as a pet, you'll have to check your local laws and see if a permit is necessary.
Minks are related to and similar to ferrets in some ways. Ferrets, though, have been domesticated for thousands of years and have adapted to relating with people. This shows in their personalities - ferrets are generally easy-going pets who have a desire to please their owners. Minks, on the other hand, still have their wild drives. Getting along with people is not something that comes naturally to them.
Wild minks are on a constant search for food during their waking hours, and will kill and eat everything from small fish and amphibians to birds several times their weight. What this means in your home is that minks want to explore and put their mouths on everything. Minks can be terrific biters. Some can learn to control the strength of their bite, but it requires constant, daily training. Minks certainly do not make good pets for kids, nor for anyone who can't tolerate being bitten, sometimes hard enough to draw blood.
Minks are very intelligent animals, probably much more intelligent than ferrets, but being wild animals they use their intelligence for their own purposes. Their intelligence means they get bored easily and can think up clever ways to get into trouble.
Minks, like ferrets, generally sleep much of the day, but when they're awake, they're even more active than ferrets. They want to be doing something, exploring something, mouthing something, or, being minks, swimming. Pet minks generally hate being caged, and often develop stereotypical behaviors - pacing the cage floor or mouthing the cage bars in an obsessive manner. Stereotypical behaviors like this are a signal of a frustrated, stressed animal. Unfortunately, caging them is almost always necessary, for two reasons. First, even more so than ferrets, minks will get in trouble when they can, chewing on anything they can reach, digging into the innards of furniture and so on. Minks can climb and jump better than ferrets, giving them still more access to trouble-making. Second, minks are difficult to litter-train. Most mink owners report limited success in getting their pets to reliably use the litter box, even if they spend a great deal of time on training. This means, in most pet homes, minks are going to be spending most of their time in a cage, which isn't fair to an active, wild animal.
Some individual minks seem to adjust to pet situations better than others. Those who have kept multiple pet minks have said that while one individual may make a decent pet with enough time and training, others, even out of the same litter, never adjusted.
The ideal situation for a captive mink would be to have the run of a large, indoor/outdoor, escape-proof enclosure with natural landscaping and, if at all possible, running water. Of course, such a setup would be expensive to build. Keeping a mink happy indoors is possible, but they require a great deal of time out of the cage, and this time will need to be supervised. If they're expected to maintain a friendly relationship with their owner, minks also need daily time spent on training and simply entertaining them. Keeping a pet mink means devoting hours everyday to an animal that will not show you as much affection and love as dog or cat will, will bite you on a regular basis, will soil your floors and generally make trouble, and will require you to put up with all of this for an 8-10 year lifespan. Ferrets, on the other hand, while similar to minks, are easier pets in every respect. Minks do, however, have personalities all their own. For a few special people with time, resources and devotion, minks may be worth it. For everyone else, though, minks just don't make good pets.