MINK react to boredom in much the same way as humans – by eating too many snacks and idling away their time.
Researchers believe the findings show captive animals can suffer psychologically from a lack of things to do.
The scientists compared mink living in small, bare cages with those housed in large enclosures containing passageways, water pools and climbing towers.
Those in the bare cages actively sought stimulation, even if it meant approaching frightening objects. They also ate more treats between meals than mink in the enriched environments.
The mink in the bare cages spent much of their waking time lying down and idle. Those that spent the most time awake but motionless also showed the keenest interest in boredom-breaking stimulation.
“But we don’t know if animals truly feel bored in the same way humans do,” said researcher Dr Rebecca Meagher, of the University of Guelph in Ontario.