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American Mink

American Mink


American Mink Baby
American Mink Baby

American Mink Habits

The American mink lives by rivers, streams, lakes, coasts, and marshes. When lakes freeze in parts of North America, the mink seeks open water and may live in a tunnel under the snow.
The mink marks out a territory along the waters edge with a pungent scent from its anal glands.
The male mink's territory covers one to three square miles; the female's is smaller. Territories often overlap, and while minks usually avoid one another, males fight viciously if they meet. A young mate travels up to 30 miles from his birthplace to find his own territory.
Within its territory, a mink has several dens in hollow trees, under roots, or inside the empty burrows of other animals.
For centuries the American mink has been hunted for its winter coat of fur, the long soft guard hairs giving it a lustrous quality. The female's coat is the most desirable because it is less coarse. Trapping is legal in the winter throughout North America.
The mink, first bred on mink farms in 1866, has been introduced into many countries since then. In all these Places minks have escaped from the farms and have bred successfully in the wild.
The mink was introduced to fur farms in Great Britain in 1929, and the animal is now present in the wild throughout England, Scotland, and Wales. Similar populations have sprung up in Scandinavia, Iceland, and parts of eastern Europe. In 1913 the Russians released American mink into the wild in order to produce a superior "free range" fur.

American Mink Communication

Mink communicate using odors, visual signals, and sounds. They are fairly quiet, but rely heavily on odors for communicating territorial boundaries and for finding mates. Mink have excellent senses of vision, smell, and hearing.

American Mink Breeding

The mink's mating season is during February and March; at this time the usually solitary animals come together. The male travels great distances in his search for a female; both male and female mate several times with different partners.
Four or five young are born, deep in one of the female's fur-lined dens.
The young are blind and naked at birth. Raised by the female, they open their eyes at four weeks. The American mink weans its young at six to eight weeks, the European species at 10 weeks.
The young minks accompany the female as she hunts, learning skills by copying her. At summer's end, the family disperses to seek individual territories.

American Mink Food & Feeding

The mink hunts by night and in cloudy weather, when much of its prey is active. A nursing female often hunts during the day.
The mink hunts in water or on land. Its aquatic prey includes crayfish, frogs, small fish, and water birds. Because its eyes are not adapted for underwater vision, it watches for prey from the shore and then dives qukIdy into the water to catch the victim before it escapes.
On land, the mink turns over stones and pokes under tree roots in search of small rodents, rabbits, snakes, nesting birds, or eggs.
Sometimes a mink kills more food than it can eat at one time; it stores the rest in its den to eat later.

American Mink Key Facts

              Height: Length: Head and body, 1-2 feet. Tail 6-8 inches
              Weight: 1-3 pounds
             Sexual maturity: About 10 months
             Mating: February to March
             Gestation: 39-70 days. Average 45-52
             Number of young: 2-10. Usually 4-5
            Habit: Solitary, agressive
            Diet: Fish, frogs, water birds, rodents, rabbits, and snakes
            Lifespan: 3 years



  • The odor from the mink's scent glands is as foul as the skunk's, but it does not carry as far.
  • One mink's hoard of fresh prey contained 13 muskrats, two mallards, and a coot.
  • The mink is sometimes called the "marsh otter," although it is not as well adapted to life near water as the otter is.
  • Feral escapees from fur farms of American mink have made this animal one of the most common meat eaters in Great Britain and Scandinavia, although it is native to neither area.
  • The mink occupies a territory for about 10 months then establishes a new one.

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