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Determination of the aversion of farmed mink (Mustela vison) to carbon dioxide
  1. J. Cooper, BA, PhD1,1,
  2. G. Mason, BA, PhD1 and
  3. M. Raj, BSc, PhD2
  1. 1 Animal Behaviour Research Group, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PS
  2. 2 Department of Clinical Veterinary Science, University of Bristol, Langford House, Langford BS 18 7DY


High concentrations of carbon dioxide are commonly used to kill mink before their pelts are removed. The aversiveness of this procedure was investigated by using a passive avoidance technique. Eight mink were trained to obtain a reward (a novel object) by entering a chamber which could be filled with carbon dioxide, as under commercial conditions (over 80 per cent by volume). In the absence of carbon dioxide, mink entered the chamber within a mean (sd) of 16 (2.1) seconds and spent 45 (12) per cent of the next 10 minutes interacting with the novel object. When there was carbon dioxide in the test chamber, the mink would not enter it and coughed and recoiled from the chamber's entrance instead. It was concluded that the mink detected and avoided high concentrations of carbon dioxide, and that if mink are to be killed humanely, less aversive techniques should be used.

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  • Dr Cooper's present address is School of Agriculture, De Montfort University, Caythorpe Court, Caythorpe, Lincolnshire NG32 3EP

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