American Mink

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The American Mink is the cutest member of the weasel family. The name mink has been derived from a Swedish word ‘meank’. They are native to North America. Since they come from a weasel family they are akin to many weasels with similar physique. They are usually harvested for their furs which are of excellent quality and color.

Characteristics

The American Mink have long slender body which is around 30 to 55cms long. They have short webbed legs which make them an excellent swimmer. The little minks have long tail and its tail itself comprises of one third of its body. It has thick glossy hair usually brown to black in color throughout its body and a patch of white under the chin and throat. The soft furs of the minks are covered with waterproof oily hair.

Naming of the American Mink

The baby minks are called ‘cub or kit’; the female minks are called ‘sow’ and the male minks as ‘boar’.

Range

The minks originated in North America, and American Minks are found throughout the United States and Canada except for few places on tundra and southwestern USA like Arizona, Hawaii, Southern New Mexico, southern and central Utah, western Texas and southern California.

Behaviors

American Mink Picture

 

Picture 1: American Mink

Source: en.wikipedia.org

The American mink is a semi aquatic animal and it spends a lot of time inside water hunting for preys. They are nocturnal animals however are active throughout the year. The mink are solitary animals that mark and recognize their territories with the smell. They are carnivorous animal and hunt preys bigger than themselves. The minks usually live alone and are with their partner only during breeding seasons. When the minks are threatened they usually snarl and hiss and release a scent that also advertises its territory with the other minks and they purr like a cat when they are happy.

Habitat

The minks are semi aquatic animals and hence are found in wetland environment, usually near the streams, rivers or any other water bodies. The mink population at a particular area depends on the food available for them at that area. The minks move in to the huts and burrows of the muskrats and other occupants if they are empty or just hunt down the occupants. The minks also live in the cavities made by the stream or the trees.

Life Cycle

The average life span of a wild mink would be a year to 3 years. This statistics however comprises of the younger minks that easily fall prey to the predators or die of disease or starvation. Once they reach the adulthood and are capable enough to hunt their food, they may live up to four years to seven years. However the domestic minks may live for longer period.

Reproduction

American Minks mating season starts from February to April. The male and the female minks have several partners. The female gives birth by late April or early May. When the mating season starts, the male minks wander far away in search of females. It takes almost a month for the fertilization and implantation of the eggs, gestation period would be around 51 days.

Young American Mink Picture 2: Young American Mink

Source: upload.wikimedia.org

Diet

Minks are carnivorous animals. They are nocturnal animals and hunt mostly during night but are also active during the day. The American minks are aggressive predators and often hunt down animals bigger than themselves. They hunt variety of prey from aquatic animals to terrestrial habitat. Since they are good swimmers, they dive and catch fishes and feed on muskrats, rabbits, frogs, chipmunks and snakes etc. They kill their prey by biting them on their throat.

Locomotion

The American Mink have a bounding gait and can swim and climb trees. They can swim for up to three hours in warm water but cannot sustain cold water for very long.

Senses and Scent Glands

The eyesight of the mink is better on land than in water. They rely heavily on their auditory glands when hunting for preys. However they have comparatively weak sense of smell.

Predators

The predators of the wild American minks are wolves, foxes, great horned owls etc.

Fur

The American Mink fur is more glossy and silky than of its cousin, the European Mink. Their fur color varies from brown to black and a patch of white below the chin and throat. The soft fur is covered by the oily hair which is waterproof. The furs of American Mink are very attractive due to its superior quality and color.

The minks molt twice in a year, once in April and then in August or September.

Pictures of American Mink

Picture 3: American Mink Picture

Source: zoo4950.files.wordpress.com

 

Fur Use

The American Mink fur has a superior quality and color due to which it is in great demand in manufacturing coats, caps and jackets.

Farming

American mink were in great demand for its superior quality fur and hence harvesting the wild minks became insufficient. Therefore in the late 19th century, they started breeding the American mink for its fur. By 2005 America became the fourth largest producer of American mink fur after Denmark, China and Netherlands. Once the minks give birth to their young once in May, they are harvested in November and December.

As Pets

American Minks have been kept in farms for almost a century for breeding however they can also be tamed if caught young. They can dominate the cats and drive the rats away from the rat holes. The minks are intelligent animal but take a long time to be tamed.

Decline of the Wild Mink

The domestic minks are bigger in size than the wild minks. When the domestic minks escape into the wild from the fur farms, it causes problem with the wild mink population and the ecosystem. If the mink population is over flooded, they reduce the number by either killing the other minks or chasing them out of the territory.

Facts

The American minks can kill snakes as well but they do not eat them.

American Minks

Picture 4: American Mink

Source: static.guim.co.uk

The American minks are listed as the least concerned category, they are found abundant in Northern United States and Canada except in tundra region and the southwestern USA.

References

http://www.furcommission.com/Biology/index.html,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Mink,

http://www.nhptv.org/natureworks/mink.htm,

http://thewebsiteofeverything.com/animals/mammals/Carnivora/Mustelidae/Mustela/Mustela-vison.html,

http://www.sciencedaily.com/articles/a/american_mink.htm

15 thoughts on “American Mink

  1. Richard Shumway August 28, 2011 at 12:28 am #

    while my family and i were camping on Durand Island in the Mother Bunch on Lake George this past week, we watched a Mink working the shoreline of the island. it was so bold that it ran right in front of my grandson, almost across his feet.
    it seemed to be as curious about us as we were it. very cool.

  2. jessica patterson October 17, 2011 at 10:30 pm #

    i love minks but i think some of the facts are not true who is with me

  3. Andrea December 11, 2011 at 11:10 pm #

    Yeah, I agree. Minks will basically kill anything, and will eat snakes.

  4. ciera hacker February 13, 2012 at 2:39 pm #

    they are so cute i want one NOW!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Ciera February 27, 2012 at 2:19 pm #

    The baby mink is adorable!!! I want one but my parents wont let me! but hopefuly they surprize me and get me one anyways. They are just so darn cute!! :~D

  6. Emma Andrews August 17, 2012 at 2:10 am #

    I have a friend who is getting a mink as a pet for his three children 3,6 7. Is it a good idea for these children to have a mink for a pet. What is the danger or drawbacks. Thanks Emma

  7. Ken Metzger December 3, 2012 at 10:03 pm #

    I set a trap( the catch and release typr) to trap some muskrats that are destroying the bank of my 1/2 acre pond, I was saddened to find out that I had instead trapped what I believe to be a mink. looks like the pictures on line. I baited the trap with carrots ! Is it possible that mink eat carrots? If I did catch a mink which was dead when I checked the trap(been very cold at night)did I kill the thing that might have killed the muskrats ?

  8. alec January 17, 2013 at 6:27 pm #

    last night i was visited by a mink,it came in through the cat/flap and ran into the kitchen,my cat heard it and chased it into a bedroom,then i picked up a broom and very gently encoureged it to leave.it disapeared into the back garden.very cute animal,but i know they bite.hope it comes back.

  9. Mark Doyle January 31, 2013 at 6:21 pm #

    Hi there i trap MINK and they do live in Family groups as i got 3 in the same spot nearly to the foot they are killing machines and stink to great to get 3 out of the way the males make a loud screaching noise in the cage the female is so quiet in the cage grooming herself like a cat they fear nothing look nice a shame about the damage they do

  10. Heather h March 31, 2013 at 1:07 am #

    Will a mink attack a cat?

  11. Dani April 12, 2013 at 5:56 am #

    A single mink killed seven full sized hens and took two bantam hens in one single night! They are killing machines! I don’t care if it’s cute – as soon as we catch it, it’s dead!

  12. Nicole Matthews May 6, 2013 at 11:59 pm #

    A mink actually just ate my chicken today

  13. Sharon Holowaychuk May 17, 2013 at 11:36 pm #

    There is one living under my deck in Victoria, Canada

  14. Kiko Anderson January 23, 2014 at 9:33 pm #

    Mink are fine in their native hqbitat but escaped mink in Tierra del Fuego are invasive exotics without predators who are wiping out several species of bird. We believe it was them that killed 7 of the 15 adult King penguins in one night on our nearby beach in southern TdF. We’re now setting traps but they’ll be hard to eradicate. Any suggestions welcomed.

  15. Mink Lover June 17, 2014 at 4:00 pm #

    I LOVE MINKS THERE SO CUTE AND ADORABLE

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