(Last Updated On: April 15, 2021)

The American mink, scientific name Neovison vison is a semiaquatic species of mustelid native to North America, although human intervention has expanded its range to many components of Europe and South America.

The American mink was first imported to Great Britain in 1929 for fur farming, although a sequence of escapes and releases result in the institution of self-sufficient feral inhabitants in Devon by the late 1950s, and others by the early 1960s. In this article, I am going to talk about American mink tracks, skull, range, size, baby, invasive species, vs European mink, winter, etc.

American mink profile

Mink numbers have elevated quickly within the last 30-40 years, and they’re now frequent and widespread. They are semi-aquatic and are steadily encountered on our canals and rivers.

Close up, American mink resemble one thing between a small cat and a ferret. They have a dense coat of deep brown fur, which frequently results in instances of misidentification with the native otter.

However, otters are shy animals unlikely to be seen in the course of the day – fairly not like their assured American cousins who will wander the waterways in any respect hours.

Because of range enlargement, the American mink is classed as a least-concern species by the IUCN. Since the extinction of the ocean mink, the American mink is the one extant member of the genus Neovison.

The American mink is a carnivore that feeds on rodents, fish, crustaceans, frogs, and birds. In its launched range in Europe, it has been categorized as an invasive species linked to declines in European mink, Pyrenean desman, and water vole populations. It is the animal most steadily farmed for its fur, exceeding the silver fox, sable, marten, and skunk in economic significance.

Mink are additionally smaller and slimmer than otters, which makes it simpler for them to hunt burrow-dwelling prey comparable to water voles.

In the UK, the water vole has been in decline because the starting of the 20th century, because of habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation. However, this decline accelerated sharply all through the 1960s and 1970s, coinciding with the unfold of American mink within the wild.

Geographic Range

Mink are discovered all through the United States, showing in components of each state besides Arizona. They are additionally present in most of Canada, together with introduced inhabitants on Newfoundland. Only alongside the Arctic coast and a few offshore islands are they absent.

American mink have additionally been inadvertently launched to the British Isles, the place they escaped from fur farms within the 1960s. As a non-native predator their results on native wildlife there are severe.

American mink Physical Description

American mink fur is often darkish brown with white patches on the chin, chest, and throat areas. The fur is smooth and thick, with oily guard hairs that waterproof the animal’s coat. The body is long and slender with brief legs and a sharp, flat face.

The toes are partially webbed, displaying the mink’s semi-aquatic nature. Body size is often round 2 feet or 610 mm with as much as half of this size being the tail. Females, on average, are considerably smaller than males. Adult females weigh between 0.7 to 1.1 kg, whereas males range from 0.9 to 1.6 kilograms. Body size varies as nicely, with males measuring from 580 to 700 mm and females from 460 to 575 mm.

The American mink has a long body, which permits the species to enter the burrows of prey. Its streamlined form helps it to cut back water resistance while swimming.

The American mink skull is just like that of the European mink, however is larger, narrower, and fewer elongated, with more strongly developed projections and a wider, shorter skull. The higher molars are bigger and larger than these of the European mink. The dental components is

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Although mink are discovered all through North America, they have a tendency to frequent forested areas which are in shut proximity to water. Streams, ponds, and lakes, with some type of brushy or rocky cover close by are the thought-about optimum territory.

American mink Fur

The American mink’s winter fur is denser, longer, softer, and more close-fitting than that of the European mink. The winter fur’s tone is mostly very darkish blackish-tawny to light-tawny.

Colour is evenly distributed over all of the body, with the underneath facet being solely barely lighter than the back. The guard hairs are brilliant and dark-tawny, typically approaching black on the backbone.

The underfur on the back may be very wavy and greyish-tawny with a bluish tint. The tail is darker than the trunk and generally turns into pure black on the tip. The chin and decrease lip are white.

Captive American minks are likely to develop irregular white patches on the decrease floor of their bodies, although escaped people from Tartaria progressively lost these patches.

The summer season fur is mostly shorter, sparser, and duller than the winter fur. The thick underfur and oily guard hairs render the pelage water-resistant, with the size of the guard hairs being intermediate between these of otters and polecats, thus indicating the American mink is incompletely tailored to aquatic life.

American mink moults twice a year, throughout spring and autumn. It doesn’t flip white in winter. A wide range of totally different color mutations has arisen from experimental breeding on fur farms.


The most lifespan for a mink is often around 10 years.

American mink Locomotion

On land, the American mink strikes by a bounding gait, with speeds of as much as 6.5 km/h (4.0 mph). It additionally climbs bushes and swims nicely. During swimming, the mink propels itself primarily by means of undulating actions of the trunk.

When diving, it undergoes bradycardia, which is probably going an adaptation to preserve oxygen. In heat water (24 °C (75 °F)), the American mink can swim for 3 hours without stopping, however in chilly water, it may possibly die inside 27 minutes.

It usually dives to depths of 12 in (30 cm) for 10 seconds, although depths of three m lasting 60 seconds have been recorded. It usually catches fish after five- to 20-second chases.

American mink Senses

The American mink depends closely on sight when foraging. Its eyesight is clearer on land than underwater. Its auditory notion is high sufficient to detect the ultrasonic vocalizations (1–16 kHz) of rodent prey.

Its sense of odor is relatively weak. Its two anal glands are used for scent marking, both by means of defecation or by rubbing the anal area on the ground.

The secretions of the anal glands are composed of two,2-dimethylthietane, 2-ethylthietane, cyclic disulfide, 3,3-dimethyl-1,2-dithiacyclopentane, and indole.

When confused, the American mink can expel the contents of its anal glands at a distance of 12 in (30 cm). Scent glands may additionally be situated on the throat and chest.

The odor produced by these scent glands was described by Clinton Hart Merriam as more insufferable than that produced by skunks, and added it was “one of the few substances, of animal, vegetable, or mineral origin, that has, on land or sea, rendered me aware of the existence of the abominable sensation called nausea”.

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American mink Vocal

The American mink usually solely vocalizes throughout shut encounters with different minks or predators. The sounds it emits embody piercing shrieks and hisses when threatened and muffled chuckling sounds when mating.

Kits squeak repeatedly when separated from their moms. Ernest Thompson Seton reported listening to minks growl and snarl when confronting a menace.

During aggressive interactions, this mink asserts its dominance by arching its back, puffing up, and lashing its tail, stomping and scraping the ground with its feet, and opening its mouth in a threat-gape. Should this be unsuccessful, fights might outcome, with accidents to the top and neck.

Food Habits

The diet of mink varies with the season. During the summer season, it consists of crayfish and small frogs, together with small mammals comparable to shrews, rabbits, mice, and muskrats. Fish, geese, and different waterfowl present extra meal decisions. In the winter, they primarily prey on mammals.

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American mink Behavior

American mink territories are held by particular person animals with minimal intrasex overlap, however with in-depth overlap between animals of the other sex. Most territories are in undisturbed, rocky coastal habitats with broad littoral zones and dense cover.

Some are on estuaries, rivers, and canals close to city areas. Home ranges are usually 1–6 kilometers (0.62–3.73 miles) long, with male territories bigger than females’.

As long as it’s near water, the American mink just isn’t fussy about its selection of den. Mink dens usually include long burrows in river banks, holes underneath logs, tree stumps, or roots and hole bushes, although dens situated in rock crevices, drains, and nooks underneath stone piles and bridges are sometimes chosen.

The burrows they dig themselves are usually about 4 inches in diameter and should proceed alongside for 10–12 feet (300–370 cm) at a depth of two–3 feet (61–91 cm).

The American mink might nest in burrows dug beforehand by muskrats, badgers, and skunks, and may additionally dig dens in old anthills. The nesting chamber is on the end of a four-inch tunnel and is a couple of feet in diameter.

It is heat, dry, and lined with straw and feathers. The American mink’s dens are characterized by a lot of entrances and twisting passages. The variety of exits varies from one to eight.


Early behavioral research was carried out within the 1960s to evaluate visible studying capability in minks, ferrets, skunks, and home cats. Animals have been examined on their capability to acknowledge objects, study their valences and make object alternatives from reminiscence.

Minks have been discovered to outperform ferrets, skunks, and cats on this process, however this letter (brief paper) fails to account for a possible conflation of a cognitive capability (decision making, associative studying) with a largely perceptual capability.

Color mutations

Selective breeding has produced quite a few totally different color shades in mink peltries, starting from pure white, by means of beiges, browns, and greys, to a brown that’s virtually black.

The two standard strains are brown and “black cross” which, when paired, produce quite a few color variations. When an albino mink is born, it’s a standard process in fur farms to breed it to different color mutations to provide gray and light-brown pastel shades.

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American mink Reproduction

The American mink is a promiscuous animal that doesn’t type pair bonds. The start of mating season ranges from February in its southern range to April within the north. In its launched range, the American mink breeds one month sooner than the European mink.

Males generally combat in the course of the mating season, which can outcome in the formation of free, temporary dominance hierarchies governing entry to receptive females.

The mating season lasts for 3 weeks, with ovulation being induced by the presence of males. The mating process is violent, with the male usually biting the feminine on the nape of the neck and pinning her together with his forefeet.

Mating lasts from 10 minutes to 4 hours. Females are receptive for seven- to 10-day intervals in the course of the three-week breeding season, and may mate with a number of males.

Along with the striped skunk, the American mink is among the many only mammals to mate in spring that have a brief delay before implantation. This delayed implantation permits pregnant minks to maintain monitor of environmental circumstances and choose a perfect time and place for parturition.

The American mink gestation interval lasts from 40 to 75 days, with precise embryonic growth going down after 30–32 days, indicating implantation delay can final from eight to 45 days.

The younger are born from April to June, in litters consisting of 4 kits on average. The litters are sometimes multiply sired. Exceptionally giant litters of 11 kits have been recorded in

Tartaria and 16 within the United States. The kits are blind at delivery, weighing six grams and possessing a brief coat of fantastic, silver-white hairs.

The kits are depending on their mom’s milk, which incorporates 3.8% lipids, 6.2% protein, 4.6% lactose, and 10.66% mineral salts. Their eyes open after 25 days, with weaning occurring after 5 weeks.

The kits start searching after eight weeks of age, however, keep near their mom till autumn, after they grow to be unbiased. Sexual maturity is attained in the course of the equipment’s first spring when they’re about 10 months old.


The principal menace in the direction of mink survival is the continued existence of the fur market. Forty-seven states and all Canadian provinces at the moment conduct restricted trapping seasons on mink, with the size of the season various from space to space.

Quotas on catch size have additionally been set in lots of locations. Both of those ways permit the restricted removal of mink so that inhabitants’ densities will stay fixed.

Another menace contains the destruction of the mink habitat. Mink rely closely on aquatic areas. Creating, enhancing, and sustaining such habitat permits the continued existence of healthy populations all through the range of the species.

The presence of environmental contaminants comparable to mercury and hydrocarbon compounds (e.g., DDT and PCBs) pose a further menace to American mink.

These chemical compounds accumulate inside the mink’s tissues and may trigger issues in reproduction and even threaten the animal’s life. Closer regulation over the use and disposal of those chemical compounds is necessary.

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