Wednesday, January 18, 2012

American & European Mink

The term “mink” refers to two living species of mammal; the European mink (Muestela lutreola) and the American mink (Neovision vision). Although both species appear quite similar, they do not share a common genus. European Mink are more closely related to polecats than they are to American mink, which are larger and stouter animals than those in the Mustela genus.
Both species of mink are carnivores and make their homes near bodies of water. Wild mink are usually less than three feet long including tail and weigh about 2lbs, with farm-bred varieties being much heavier. The American mink in particular has a very soft, dense coat that is water-resistant and well adapted to its semi aquatic environment. The body of a wild mink is quite slender, allowing the animal to easily access the burrows of prey animals.

Mink feed on rodents, fish, crustaceans, amphibians and birds. They are very capable swimmers and are able to catch prey in water, on land and underground. Mink do have to be wary of natural predators such as owls, foxes, bobcats and coyotes. However, the vast majority of mink are killed by human activities such as hunting to protect fish populations, trapping for fur and automobile strikes.

Mink live near bodies of water and prefer to have woods nearby. Their homes may be under a log or stump, a hollow tree or in an abandoned muskrat burrow. They are primarily nocturnal animals and live solitary lives outside of the mating season, never forming pair-bonds. Mating occurs in the spring with litters of four kits born between April and June. The kits are weaned after five weeks and stay with their mother until becoming independent in the autumn. Mink can live as long as 10 years.

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