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The mink belongs to the order Carnivora, which means it is carniverous – a meat-eater. The order Carnivora also includes other meat-eaters such as lions, tigers, hyenas, coyotes, and wolves. Within the order Carnivora, the mink belongs to the family Mustelidae, commonly known as the weasel family. This family also includes skunks, otters, fishers, martens and wolverines.
By the time it reaches adulthood, a male is about the size of a small house cat, weighing 680 – 1,300 gm, and measuring about 56 cm in length. This is partly the result of management and diet, but the main reason for the size of domesticated mink is genetics. They can more than double their size in the first few days of life, attesting to the nutritious quality of mink milk, and underlining the importance of good nutrition and health for lactating females. In the wild, mink vary in color from chocolate brown to almost black above, with pale fur underneath. Buff to white patches are common on the midline from the chin to the vent, but these vary in size and shape from one population to the next. Domesticated mink are selectively bred especially for their fur, resulting in a range of colors from almost black to white, including many shades not found in the wild. The guard hairs in a mink are thicker and longer along the center of the back, accounting for a “stripe” effect. WILD Mink are carnivorous and take a variety of prey from aquatic and bank-side habitats, hunting mainly at night but also by day. But American mink are aggressive predators and take a wider range of prey, often attacking animals larger than themselves. Mostly they eat small mammals such as meadow voles and shrews and they swim and dive underwater to catch fish and crayfish. They are also known to eat birds, eggs, frogs, clams, freshwater mussels, snakes, rats, ground squirrels, salamanders, and a variety of insects. Rather than going to waste, these by-products are put to good use, recycled by such businesses as pet food companies, aquariums, zoos, and fur farmers. Old chickens and expired eggs are other local food sources ideally suited to mink bearers. A farm located near the ocean, by contrast, will tend to include a lot of fish remains in its diet. Most fur farmers collect these leftovers themselves, personally visiting chicken farms, packing plants and slaughterhouses around their county. They then mix these ingredients on the farm, carefully measuring the protein, fat and ash content to ensure their animals receive the proper nutrition all year long. Mink are tricky to raise, with varying nutritional requirements during the growing and reproductive phases of their lives. HABITAT Mink are semi-aquatic animals and the best places to see them are in wetland environments such as large marshlands or along lakeshores, rivers and streams. If they are abandoned, mink will simply move in, but they may also take over occupied huts, killing and eating the occupants. Mink will also make dens in natural cavities in stream banks, under trees and in drift piles, lining them with grass, leaves, fur or feathers. The European species is a late migrant to Eurasia across the Bering Land Bridge during the last glacial phase of the Pleistocene. It once inhabited a vast territory from the Ural mountains to eastern Spain and from central Finland to the Black Sea. Except when breeding or raising young, males and females select individual home territories which they mark with their scent glands and defend actively. Denning sites are often close to water in well-maintained bank burrows abandoned by or stolen from muskrats or beavers. Other choices can include spaces under large exposed tree roots, beaver lodges, muskrat houses and hollowed-out stumps or fallen logs. Juveniles that have recently left the family group often use several dens until they establish their own home range, which are usually smaller than those of older mink. The mink marks its territory and advertises its presence by depositing droppings and leaving its scent in prominent locations such as on flat rocks and logs. Startled mink may squeal, hiss or snarl, and release a scent similar to, but far weaker than, skunk, that can be smelled up to 10 feet away. Adult mink are bold, ferocious and virtually untameable, but if they are taken as kits they are playful and can become attached to the person who cares for them. While some farmers have selectively bred mink for tameness and can handle them without gloves, they still retain their aggressive traits. A thousand Americans a day are treated in emergency rooms for dog bites, mostly children bitten in the face. Those that reach adulthood and find abundant sources of food may live to the age of four, and a small percentage of these successfully reproduce. Out of these, the finest are retained for breeding stock for the following year while the rest of the mink will be harvested for pelts for use in cold weather clothing, fine oil and other products at about 7 to 8 months. Mating takes place once a year, in February and March, with females remaining in heat for about three weeks. As the mating season approaches, males leave their territories and travel long distances in search of females. At eight to 10 weeks old and weighing about 350 gms, kits are weaned and begin to accompany the mother on hunting trips. Even though they are capable of fending for themselves at two months, kits stay with their mother until autumn when they leave to establish their own territories. This fatty layer is recovered after the pelt is removed from the carcass and is then rendered down to make mink oil. The supreme softness, smoothness and moisture-retaining properties imparted to skin are believed to be due to the special ratio of glycerides contained in mink oil. In 1985, the Fur Farm Animal Welfare Coalition published the nation’s first set of operating Guidelines for the benefit of domestic mink and fox producers in the United States. Animal Extremists Exploit COVID Fears to Propose Ban on U.S. Mink Farming, says Fur Commission USA Fur Commission USA (FCUSA) PRESS RELEASE (July 6, 2021) Legislators using non-existent threat of COVID to propose ban on U.S. mink farming. Connecticut Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-3) has introduced a bill to amend the Lacey Act of 1981, HR 4310, to ban all “import, export, transport, sale, receipt, acquirement, or purchase in interstate or foreign… The Danish government has controversially culled millions of mink from farms after a mutated strain of coronavirus was detected in the animals.
What kind of animal is a mink?
mink, either of two species of the weasel family (Mustelidae) native to the Northern Hemisphere. The European mink (Mustela lutreola) and the American mink (Neovison vison) are both valued for their luxurious fur.
Is a mink a ferret?
They are both similar members of the weasel family Mustelidae, but their classification is different. Ferrets are Mustela furo and minks are either of the genera Neogale or Mustela. Are minks a type of ferret? No, minks and ferrets are different species.
Are minks aggressive?
Despite their size, mink are vicious predators. The mink is extremely aggressive and capable of attacking and killing animals much larger than itself. They are seldom if ever interested in plant food. They feed primarily on birds, eggs, frogs, crayfish, and fish.
Where do mink live in the US?
Minks live near streams, rivers, lakes, marshes and coastlines. They like to take shelter in the abandoned dens of other animals or at the base of trees.
The American mink (Neogale vison) is a semiaquatic species of mustelid native to North America, though human intervention has expanded its range to many parts of Europe, Asia and South America. Because of range expansion, the American mink is classed as a least-concern species by the IUCN. The American mink was formerly thought to be the only extant member of the genus Neovison following the extinction of the sea mink (N. macrodon), but recent studies, followed by taxonomic authorities, have reclassified it and the sea mink within the genus Neogale, which also contains a few New World weasel species. The American mink is a carnivore that feeds on rodents, fish, crustaceans, frogs, and birds. In its introduced range in Europe it has been classified as an invasive species linked to declines in European mink, Pyrenean desman, and water vole populations. It is the animal most frequently farmed for its fur, exceeding the silver fox, sable, marten, and skunk in economic importance.
Scientific classification Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Class: Mammalia Order: Carnivora Family: Mustelidae Genus: Neogale Species: Binomial name Neogale vison Subspecies N. v. vison N. v. aestuarina N. v. aniakensis N. v. energumenos N. v. evagor N. v. evergladensis N. v. ingens N. v. lacustris N. v. letifera N. v. lowii N. v. lutensis N. v. melampeplus N. v. mink N. v. nesolestes N. v. vulgivaga In its introduced range in Europe it has been classified as an invasive species linked to declines in European mink , Pyrenean desman , and water vole populations. It is the animal most frequently farmed for its fur, exceeding the silver fox , sable , marten , and skunk in economic importance. Schreber, 1777
The smallest subspecies  Eastern Canada , west to Hudson Bay ; south in the interior to the Catskill Mountains , New York and to northern Pennsylvania altaica (Ternovskii, 1958) borealis (Brass, 1911) nigrescens (Audubon and Bachman, 1854) tatarica (Popov, 1949) winingus (Baird, 1858) California lowland mink N. v. aestuarina Ginnell, 1916
Resembles N. v. energumenos , but smaller and has paler, less dense fur  The lowlands of west-central California ; west to Petaluma and Marin Counties N. v. aniakensis Burns, 1964 Western or Pacific mink N. v. energumenos Bangs, 1896
A small and dark-coloured subspecies with dark sooty-brown fur.  Western North America, from British Columbia south to the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California and the Rocky Mountains in New Mexico N. v. evagor Hall, 1932 Everglades mink N. v. evergladensis Hamilton, 1948
The southern tip of Florida Alaskan mink N. v. ingens Osgood, 1900
The largest subspecies, it resembles N. v. energumenos , but is lighter in colour.  Northern, western and central Alaska ; the northern Yukon and the northwestern Mackenzie Mountains ; south to the Alaska Peninsula and to Fort Good Hope Hudson Bay mink N. v. lacustris Preble, 1902
It has dark chocolate-brown fur above with white on the chin and irregularly distributed on the breast and between the hind legs.  The interior of Canada from Great Bear Lake and the western shores of Hudson Bay south through Alberta , Saskatchewan and Manitoba to southern North Dakota Mississippi Valley mink N. v. letifera Hollister, 1913
It has a light brown coat with white spots on the chin, throat and breast.  The coasts of the southeastern United States from South Carolina to Florida Kenai mink N. v. melampeplus Elliot, 1904
Darker than energumenos , it has dark chocolate-coloured fur with slightly paler underparts and a white spot on the chin. Peale and Palisot de Beauvois, 1796
A larger and more robust form than N. v. vison ; it has similar colouration.  The Eastern United States , from the coast of New England south to North Carolina and in the interior to central Georgia and Alabama ; westward through southern Pennsylvania and Ohio to Missouri and northeastern Texas lutreocephala (Harlan, 1825) rufa (Hamilton-Smith, 1858) Island mink N. v. nesolestes Heller, 1909
Intermediate in size between N. v. ingens and N. v. energumenos , it has rather dark fur. Bangs, 1895
It resembles N. v. mink , but is paler and smaller, with rich and lustrous light brown fur which darkens at the end of the tail.  The coasts of Louisiana and Mississippi Skull, as illustrated by N. N. KondakovAmerican mink with porcupine quills in its face.  The skull is similar to that of the European mink, but is more massive, narrower, and less elongated, with more strongly developed projections and a wider, shorter cranium .  The smell produced by these scent glands was described by Clinton Hart Merriam as more unbearable 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 “. Most territories are in undisturbed, rocky coastal habitats with broad littoral zones and dense cover. Home ranges are typically 1–6 kilometres (0.62–3.73 miles) long, with male territories larger than females’. Mink dens typically consist of long burrows in river banks , holes under logs , tree stumps , or roots and hollow trees , though dens located in rock crevices, drains, and nooks under stone piles and bridges are occasionally selected. The American mink may nest in burrows dug previously by muskrats , badgers and skunks , and may also dig dens in old ant hills .  Ernest Thompson Seton reported hearing minks growl and snarl when confronting a threat.  During aggressive interactions, mink assert their dominance by arching their backs, puffing up, lashing out their tails, and stomping and scraping the ground with their feet, while also opening their mouth in a threat-gape.  Males commonly fight during the mating season, which may result in the formation of loose, temporary dominance hierarchies governing access to receptive females. The mating process is violent, with the male typically biting the female on the nape of the neck and pinning her with his forefeet. This delayed implantation allows pregnant minks to keep track of environmental conditions and select an ideal time and place for parturition .  The kits are blind at birth, weighing six grams and possessing a short coat of fine, silver-white hairs. The kits begin hunting after eight weeks of age, but stay close to their mother until autumn, when they become independent. It kills vertebrate prey by biting the back of the head or neck, leaving canine puncture marks 9–11 mm (0.35–0.43 in) apart. Although inferior to the North American river otter in hunting fish, Audubon and Bachman once reported seeing a mink carrying a foot-long trout . Among the rodents killed by the American mink in its native range are rats and mice of the genera Hesperomys , Microtus , Sigmodon , and Neotoma . In Tartaria , the American mink’s most important food items are voles , fish, crustaceans, frogs, and aquatic insects. Within the Altai Mountains , the American mink feeds predominantly on mammals such as rodents, shrews, and moles, as well as birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish. Among fish, small species predominate in the diet of minks in Altai, and include; minnows , gudgeons , and wide-headed sculpins . In the Sverdlovsk and Irkutsk Oblasts , mouse-like rodents are their most important foods, followed by birds, fish and insects. Minks in Britain prey on several bird species, with ducks , moorhens , and coots being most frequently targeted on lakes and rivers, while gulls are taken in coastal habitats. Marine species preyed upon in Britain include European eels , rock-pool fish such as blenny , shore crabs and crayfish .  In South America’s Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve , mammals, including both native and exotic rodents, are the American mink’s main prey throughout the year, though birds are of equal importance during their summer nesting periods. According to Clinton Hart Merriam  and Ernest Thompson Seton ,  although the American mink is a potential poultry thief, it is overall less damaging than the stoat . In areas where these two species are sympatric, competition with the otter for fish causes the American mink to hunt land-based prey more frequently. An early behavioral study was performed in the 1960s to assess visual learning ability in minks, ferrets , skunks, and house cats. Minks were found to outperform ferrets, skunks, and cats in this task, but this letter (short paper) fails to account for a possible conflation of a cognitive ability (decision making, associative learning ) with a largely perceptual ability ( invariant object recognition ). Escapees of fur farms established a self-sustaining and expanding population on the Iberian peninsula by the second half of the 20th century. These feral minks, augmented by further escapees, formed the basis of a strong population in Hordaland by the end of World War II . By 1950, feral mink reached central Norway, with further populations occurring in the northern counties of Nordland and Troms . The American mink was first imported to Great Britain in 1929, though a series of escapes and releases led to the establishment of a self-sufficient feral population in Devon by the late 1950s, and others by the early 1960s. Beyond the Urals , American minks were introduced in the Sverdlovsk , Tyumen , Omsk , Kemerovo , Novosibirsk , Chita and Irkutsk Oblasts , in the Altai and Krasnoyarsk Krai , in the Tuvan , Buryat and Yakut Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republics , into the Magadan , Kamchatka and Amur Oblasts , into the Khabarovsk and Primorsky Krai , into the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug and several other locations, including Sakhalin and Urup Island . Although considerable areas were occupied by the American mink by the early 1960s, the species’ Soviet range was never continuous, as most released populations were isolated from one another. In times of overpopulation, they control their own numbers by either killing each other through direct conflict or by causing weaker minks to be driven from territory until starvation sets in. Trapping[ edit ] Illustration of an American mink approaching a board or log trapAlthough difficult to catch, the American mink, prior to being commercially farmed, was among the most frequently trapped furbearers as, unlike other furbearing mammals, it did not hibernate in winter, and could thus be caught on a nightly basis even in the far north. One who has not taken a Mink in a steel trap can scarcely form an idea of the terrible expression the animal’s face assumes as the captor approaches. A sullen stare from the crouched, motionless form gives way to a new look of surprise and fear, accompanied with the most violent contortions of the body, with renewed champing of the iron till breathless, with heaving flanks, and open mouth dribbling saliva, the animal settles again, and watches with a look of concentrated hatred, mingled with impotent rage and frightful despair. The countenance of the Mink, its broad, low head, short ears, small eyes, piggish snout, and formidable teeth, is always expressive of the lower and more brutal passions, all of which are intensified at such times. One Native American method involved using a bait (usually a slit open chicken carcass filled with fish oil and oysters) tied to a rope and dragged around an area laden with traps. The two standard strains are brown and “black cross” which, when paired, produce numerous colour variations. When an albino mink is born, it is standard procedure in fur farms to breed it to other colour mutations to produce grey and light-brown pastel shades. Colour variant
Description Pastel Pale brown and beige fur with darker guard hairs of various hues  Royal pastel Same as above, but with a bluish cast  Silverblu Bluish grey fur fibre and guard hairs which are sometimes white-tipped, giving a silvery blue tone, pelts of this type with a brownish cast are less valuable.  Cerulean Also known as “sapphire”, this variety has bluish-grey fur fibre with mauve, blue-grey guard hair, with the greatest depth of colour being on the back. “Comparative morphometrical and biochemical-genetic investigations in wild and ranch mink ( Mustela vison : Carnivora: Mammalia)” . 1407–1408 ^ a b Harris & Yalden 2008 , p. 492 ^ Haworth, Jenny (3 February 2009) “National cull may exterminate UK mink”. “Invasive American mink Mustela vison in wetlands of the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve, southern Chile: What are they eating?” “The impact of American mink, Mustela vison, as predators of native species in British freshwater systems” , pp.5–24 in Cowan, D.P. ^ Bonino, Never, (1995) INTRODUCED MAMMALS INTO PATAGONIA, SOUTHERN ARGENTINA: consequences, problems and management strategies , Integrating peoples and wildlife for a sustainable future. “Conservación del Macá Tobiano (Podiceps gallardoi): factores que afectan la viabilidad de sus poblaciones” . Ministero dell’Ambiente e della Tutela del Territorio e Istituto Nazionale per la Fauna Selvatica, Italy. “The distributional history and present status of the American mink ( Mustela vison Schreber, 1777) in Norway” (PDF) . 1399–1403 ^ The impact of climate change on the American mink in Iceland Archived July 27, 2011, at the Wayback Machine , Wildlife Conservation Research Unit ^ Wobeser, G.; Runge, W.; Stewart, R. R. (1983). ” Metorchis conjunctus (Cobbold, 1860) infection in wolves ( Canis lupus ), with pancreatic involvement in two animals”. 896–897 ^ AVMA Guidelines on Euthanasia Archived 2012-07-12 at the Wayback Machine , June 2007, American Veterinary Medical Association ^ a b Gates 1915 , p. 50 ^ Mason, Georgia; Cooper, Jonathon (2001). With an introductory chapter treating of the location and boundaries of the region, its geological history, topography, climate, general features, botany and faunal position” .
Mink are dark-colored, semiaquatic, carnivorous mammals of the genera Neogale and Mustela and part of the family Mustelidae, which also includes weasels, otters, and ferrets. There are two extant species referred to as “mink”: the American mink and the European mink. The extinct sea mink is related to the American mink but was much larger.
Mink oil is used in some medical products and cosmetics, as well as to treat, preserve, and waterproof leather. A wild male mink weighs about 1 kg (2 lb 3 oz) and is about 60 cm (23+1⁄2 in) in length. Their pelage is deep, rich brown, with or without white spots on the underparts, and consists of a slick, dense underfur overlaid with dark, glossy, almost stiff guard hairs.  Mink raised on farms primarily eat expired cheese, eggs, fish, meat and poultry slaughterhouse byproducts, dog food, and turkey livers, as well as prepared commercial foods. Great horned owls, bobcats, foxes, coyotes, wolves, and humans are all natural predators of mink. Mink like to live near water and are seldom found far from riverbanks, lakes, and marshes. The territories, which tend to be long and narrow, stretch along river banks, or around the edges of lakes or marshes. The mink may stay in its core area, which can be quite small, for several days at a time, but it also makes excursions to the ends of its territory. The Irish Department of Agriculture stated in November 2020 saying that the Department of Health had advised, following the detection of coronavirus among animals on a Danish mink farm, that the roughly 120,000 farmed Irish mink should be culled. Mink farming was already due to be discontinued under the 2020 Programme for Government but the coronavirus risk had expedited the closure of the industry.  The United States Department of Agriculture confirmed that cases of minks infected with COVID-19 had been documented in Utah in August 2020. In November 2020, Denmark , the world’s largest producer of mink fur, announced it is to cull its mink population of 15 to 17 million to stop the spread of Cluster 5 , a mutated strain of the virus, which has been linked to the animals and resulting in a mutated COVID-19 to 12 humans. These abnormal, repetitive behaviours are a result of keeping them imprisoned, and is similar to the deterioration of mental health in humans. Enrichments are pen-related alterations or the addition of novel objects to improve the mink’s physical and psychological health.  Leaving minks alone plays a large role in the prevention of stereotypies, and the animals’ well-being. ^ Haworth, Jenny (3 February 2009) “National cull may exterminate UK mink”. ^ Patterson, Bruce D.; Ramírez-Chaves, Héctor E.; Vilela, Júlio F.; Soares, André E. R.; Grewe, Felix (2021). ^ Ireland’s mink population to be culled amid Covid-19 fears Irish Independent, 2020-11-19. ^ “Denmark’s mass mink cull illegal, PM admits as opposition mounts” . “The development of on farm welfare assessment protocols for fox and mink: the WelFur project” .
mink, either of two species of the weasel family (Mustelidae) native to the Northern Hemisphere. The European mink (Mustela lutreola) and the American mink (Neovison vison) are both valued for their luxurious fur. The American mink is one of the pillars of the fur industry and is raised in captivity throughout the world. In the wild, mink are small, discreet, and most often nocturnal, and they live in close proximity to water.
As of 2005
The American mink differs from members of the genusThe American mink has a long body, which allows the species to enter the burrows of prey. Its streamlined shape helps it to reduce water resistance whilst swimming.Domestic mink, which are bred in fur farms and are substandard genetically, have 19.6% smaller brains, 8.1% smaller hearts, and 28.2% smaller spleens than wild mink.Males measure 13–18 in (34–45 cm) in body length, while females measure 12–15 in (31–37.5 cm). The tail measures 6–10 inches (15.6–24.7 cm) in males and 6–8 in (14.8–21.5 cm) in females. Weights vary with sex and season, with males being heavier than females. In winter, males weigh 1–3 lb (500–1,580 g) and females 1–2 lb (400–780 g). Maximum heaviness occurs in autumn.
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 generally very dark blackish-tawny to light-tawny. Colour is evenly distributed over all the body, with the under side being only slightly lighter than the back. The guard hairs are bright and dark-tawny, often approaching black on the spine. The underfur on the back is very wavy and greyish-tawny with a bluish tint. The tail is darker than the trunk and sometimes becomes pure black on the tip. The chin and lower lip are white. Captive individuals tend to develop irregular white patches on the lower surface of their bodies, though escaped individuals from Tartaria gradually lost these patches. The summer fur is generally shorter, sparser and duller than the winter fur.
On land, the American mink moves by a bounding gait, with speeds of up to 6.5 km/h (4.0 mph). It also climbs trees and swims well.
Senses and scent glands
The American mink relies heavily on sight when foraging. Its eyesight is clearer on land than underwater. Its auditory perception is high enough to detect the ultrasonic vocalisations (1–16 kHz) of rodent prey. Its sense of smell is comparatively weak. Its two anal glands are used for scent marking, either through defecation or by rubbing the anal region on the ground. The secretions of the anal glands are composed of 2,2-dimethylthietane, 2-ethylthietane, cyclic disulfide, 3,3-dimethyl-1,2-dithiacyclopentane, and indole. When stressed, the American mink can expel the contents of its anal glands at a distance of 12 in (30 cm).
Social and territorial behaviours
American mink territories are held by individual animals with minimal intrasex overlap, but with extensive overlap between animals of the opposite sex. Most territories are in undisturbed, rocky coastal habitats with broad littoral zones and dense cover. Some are on estuaries, rivers and canals near urban areas. Home ranges are typically 1–6 kilometres (0.62–3.73 miles) long, with male territories larger than females’.The American mink normally only vocalises during close encounters with other minks or predators. The sounds it emits include piercing shrieks and hisses when threatened and muffled chuckling sounds when mating. Kits squeak repeatedly when separated from their mothers.
Reproduction and development
The American mink is a promiscuous animal that does not form pair bonds.The gestation period lasts from 40 to 75 days, with actual embryonic development taking place after 30–32 days, indicating implantation delay can last from eight to 45 days. The young are born from April to June, in litters consisting of four kits on average.
The American mink is a carnivorous animal that feeds on rodents, fish, crustaceans, amphibians, and birds. It kills vertebrate prey by biting the back of the head or neck, leaving canine puncture marks 9–11 mm (0.35–0.43 in) apart.In Tartaria, the American mink’s most important food items are voles, fish, crustaceans, frogs, and aquatic insects. In winter, aquatic foods predominate, while land-based prey increases in importance during the spring. Within the Altai Mountains, the American mink feeds predominantly on mammals such as rodents, shrews, and moles, as well as birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish. Among the 11 different bird species preyed upon by minks in Altai are dippers and pine grosbeaks. Among fish, small species predominate in the diet of minks in Altai, and include; minnows, gudgeons, and wide-headed sculpins. In the Sverdlovsk and Irkutsk Oblasts, mouse-like rodents are their most important foods, followed by birds, fish and insects. In the Russian Far East, where crustaceans are scarce, the American mink feeds extensively on amphipods.The American mink may pose a threat to poultry. According to Clinton Hart Merriam
Relationships with other predators
The American mink replaces and sometimes kills the European mink wherever their ranges overlap.
An early behavioral study was performed in the 1960s to assess visual learning ability in minks, ferrets, skunks, and house cats. Animals were tested on their ability to recognize objects, learn their valences and make object selections from memory. Minks were found to outperform ferrets, skunks, and cats in this task, but this letter (short paper) fails to account for a possible conflation of a cognitive ability (decision making, associative learning) with a largely perceptual ability (invariant object recognition).
The species’ natural range encompasses most of North America, from Alaska, through Canada and further into the United States except Arizona and the more arid areas of California, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, and West Texas.
The American mink was deliberately introduced for commercial fur production in several provinces of Patagonia in 1930. The animals escaped or were released from farms in Chubut Province and now occur in the Chubut and Río Negro Provinces and Tierra del Fuego.
In Chile, American minks were introduced to Magallanes Region in the 1930s. Ever since minks were freed into nature during the crisis of the fur industry the mink has expanded its range across Chile. Actually it ranges from Araucanía Region in the north to Magallanes Region in the south. However, there are isolated territories in between where the mink is not found, probably due to biogeographic barriers. One of the latest areas where the mink has been found is Chiloé Archipelago,- minks were reported there for the first time 2013, making scientists suspect they may have arrived on a ship.
Feral American minks in Europe are thought to be of domesticated stock derived from theEscapees of fur farms established a self-sustaining and expanding population on the Iberian peninsula by the second half of the 20th century. In 2013, the Spanish government announced a plan to eradicate the species,The first mink farm in Norway was built in 1927, with escapees establishing wild populations within 30 years of its establishment. The first feral mink populations arose in 1930, establishing territories in southwestern Norway. These feral minks, augmented by further escapees, formed the basis of a strong population in Hordaland by the end of World War II. Feral mink colonised eastern Norway in 1930 and had become established in most southeastern counties in the early 1940s. By 1950, feral mink reached central Norway, with further populations occurring in the northern counties of Nordland and Troms. During the post-World War II period until 1965, mink had colonised most of the country. In modern times, the American mink occupies all of the Norwegian mainland, but is absent on some islands.The American mink was first imported to Great Britain in 1929, though a series of escapes and releases led to the establishment of a self-sufficient feral population in Devon by the late 1950s, and others by the early 1960s. In Ireland, the American mink was not farmed until the early 1950s, thus feral populations established themselves there much later. The species is now widespread in mainland Great Britain and Ireland, though some places remain uncolonised. It has established itself on a few islands, including Arran and Lewis and Harris.
In 1933, American minks were released into the Voronezh Oblast in European Russia. Until 1963, more minks were introduced in various quantities in the Voronezh and Arkhangelsk Oblasts, Karelia, in Kalininsk, Gorkovsk, Volgograd and Chelyabinsk Oblasts, and into Tatarstan and Bashkir, as well as the Lithuanian and Byelorussian SSRs. Beyond the Urals, American minks were introduced in the Sverdlovsk, Tyumen, Omsk, Kemerovo, Novosibirsk, Chita and Irkutsk Oblasts, in the Altai and Krasnoyarsk Krai, in the Tuvan, Buryat and Yakut Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republics, into the Magadan, Kamchatka and Amur Oblasts, into the Khabarovsk and Primorsky Krai, into the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug and several other locations, including Sakhalin and Urup Island. In the Caucasus region, American minks were released into North Ossetia. In Central Asia they were released in the Tien Shan region. Originally, captive-bred minks were used, but wild specimens were later released to facilitate the species’ acclimatisation within Soviet territories. Several years after the first release, introductions into the ranges already held by native European minks were discontinued, with most releases from then on taking place in Siberia and the Far East. Although considerable areas were occupied by the American mink by the early 1960s, the species’ Soviet range was never continuous, as most released populations were isolated from one another.
The species has been present in Iceland since the 1930s, and has become well established, despite it being heavily hunted since 1939. However, its population underwent a 42% decline during the years 2002–2006, which coincided with a decline in sand eel populations resulting in a drop in the seabird populations on which the minks feed.
Diseases and parasites
The American mink often carries light tick and flea infestations. Tick species known to infest minks includeTransmissible mink encephalopathy (TME) is a prion disease of mink, similar to BSE in cattle and scrapie in sheep. A 1985 outbreak of TME in Stetsonville, Wisconsin resulted in a 60% mortality rate for the minks.
Decline of wild mink
Because of numerous incidents of domestic mink escaping from fur farms and establishing themselves in the wild, concern has arisen among conservationists of the possible repercussions such escapes may have on natural wild mink populations. Domestic mink are larger than wild mink, which may cause problems with the ecosystem when they escape. Minks are solitary, territorial animals and are intolerant of other minks. In times of overpopulation, they control their own numbers by either killing each other through direct conflict or by causing weaker minks to be driven from territory until starvation sets in.A 2006 study in Denmark concluded, due to frequent escapes from existing mink farms, “Closing mink farms may result in a crash of the free-ranging population, or alternatively it may result in the establishment of a better-adapted, truly feral population that may ultimately outnumber the population that was present before farm closures.” The study reported more information would be necessary to determine the outcome.
Relationships with humans
The American mink and European mink
American minks are primarily used in manufacturing fur coats, jackets, and capes. Pelts that are not able to be converted into these items are made into trimming for cloth and fur coats. Mink scarves and stoles are also manufactured. Jackets and capes are mostly made from small to medium-sized specimens, usually females and young males, while trimming, scarves and stoles are made from adult males.
Although difficult to catch, the American mink, prior to being commercially farmed, was among the most frequently trapped furbearers as, unlike other furbearing mammals, it did not hibernate in winter, and could thus be caught on a nightly basis even in the far north.One Native American method involved using a bait (usually a slit open chicken carcass filled with fish oil and oysters) tied to a rope and dragged around an area laden with traps. A mink would thus follow the trail into one of the traps. Another indigenous method involved placing traps scented with muskrat and female mink musk on top of disused muskrat dens by water bodies. Attracted by the scent of food and a female, the mink would get caught in the trap and drown.
Selective breeding has produced a number of different colour shades in mink peltries, ranging from pure white, through beiges, browns, and greys, to a brown that is almost black. The two standard strains are brown and “black cross” which, when paired, produce numerous colour variations. When an albino mink is born, it is standard procedure in fur farms to breed it to other colour mutations to produce grey and light-brown pastel shades. The following graph is a simplification of the main colour strains:
Wild minks can be tamed if caught young, but can be difficult to handle and are usually not handled bare-handed.
As an invasive species in the United Kingdom, minks have been the subject of at least two novels. Ewan Clarkson’s 1968
The American mink’s fur has been highly prized for use in clothing. Their treatment on fur farms has been a focus of animal rights and animal welfareAmerican mink are believed by some to have contributed to the decline of the less hardy European mink through competition (though not through hybridization—native European mink are in fact more closely related to polecats than to North American mink).Mink oil is used in some medical products and cosmetics, as well as to treat, preserve, and waterproof leather.
The American mink (The sea mink (
A wild male mink weighs about 1 kg (2 lb 3 oz) and is about 60 cm (23+1⁄2 in) in length. Farm-bred males can reach 3.2 kg (7 lb 1 oz). The female weighs about 600 g (1 lb 5 oz) and reaches a length of about 50 cm (19+1⁄2 in). The sizes above do not include the tail, which can be from 12.8 to 22.8 cm (5+1⁄16 to 9 in).A mink’s rich glossy coat in its wild state is brown and looks silky. Farm-bred mink can vary from white to almost black, which is reflected in the British wild mink. Their pelage is deep, rich brown, with or without white spots on the underparts, and consists of a slick, dense underfur overlaid with dark, glossy, almost stiff guard hairs.Mink show the curious phenomenon of delayed implantation. Although the true gestation period is 39 days, the embryo may stop developing for a variable period, so that as long as 76 days may elapse before the litter arrives. Between 45 and 52 days is normal. There is only one litter per year. They typically have between six and 10 kits per litter. Litters as large as 16 have been recorded at fur farms.The maximum lifespan of a mink is usually around ten years, but rarely exceeds three years in the wild.
Mink prey on fish and other aquatic life, small mammals, birds, and eggs; adults may eat young mink.
Great horned owls, bobcats, foxes, coyotes, wolves, and humans are all natural predators of mink.Mink like to live near water and are seldom found far from riverbanks, lakes, and marshes. Even when roaming, they tend to follow streams and ditches. Sometimes they leave the water altogether for a few hundred meters, especially when looking for rabbits, one of their favorite foods. In some places, particularly in Scotland and in Iceland, they live along the seashore. Sometimes they live in towns if suitable water is available. Mink may be present at all hours, even when people are nearby.
Mink are very territorial animals. A male mink will not tolerate another male within his territory but appears to be less aggressive towards females. Generally, the territories of both male and female animals are separate, but a female’s territory may sometimes overlap with that of a male. Very occasionally, it may be totally within a male’s.The territories, which tend to be long and narrow, stretch along river banks, or around the edges of lakes or marshes. Territory sizes vary, but they can be several miles long. Female territories are smaller than those of males.Each territory has one or two central areas (core areas) where the mink spends most of its time. The core area is usually associated with a good food supply, such as a pool rich in fish, or a good rabbit warren. The mink may stay in its core area, which can be quite small, for several days at a time, but it also makes excursions to the ends of its territory. These excursions seem to be associated with the defense of the territory against intruders. The mink likely checks for any signs of a strange mink and leaves droppings (scat) redolent of its personal scent to reinforce its territorial rights.
The American mink’s fur has been highly prized for use in clothing, with hunting giving way to farming. Their treatment on fur farms has been a focus of animal rights and animal welfare activism.
There are three mink farms in Ireland, in Donegal, Kerry, and Laois. Mink farming was introduced into the country by two veterinarians. Three thousand mink were released by campaigners into the wild from a farm in the 1960s. It is estimated that there are 33,500 wild mink in Ireland.The Irish Department of Agriculture stated in November 2020 saying that the Department of Health had advised, following the detection of coronavirus among animals on a Danish mink farm, that the roughly 120,000 farmed Irish mink should be culled. Mink farming was already due to be discontinued under the 2020 Programme for Government but the coronavirus risk had expedited the closure of the industry.
Minks are among the animals that can be infected with coronaviruses.In November 2020, Denmark, the world’s largest producer of mink fur, announced it is to cull its mink population of 15 to 17 million to stop the spread of Cluster 5, a mutated strain of the virus, which has been linked to the animals and resulting in a mutated COVID-19 to 12 humans.
On farms, minks are placed in battery cages, a type of soft, metal wire cage that restricts their ability to move. This often results in a condition referred to as stereotypies, an abnormal behavior. These abnormal, repetitive behaviours are a result of keeping them imprisoned, and is similar to the deterioration of mental health in humans.To attempt to eliminate stereotypies in captive mink, the Canadian National Farm Animal Care Council has implemented regulations on incorporating environmental enrichments into mink cages. Enrichments are pen-related alterations or the addition of novel objects to improve the mink’s physical and psychological health.