American mink

Facts about American mink

We found 19 facts about American mink

Furry commando

The American mink is a species common in North America, where it lives in the wild. It was introduced to Europe in the 1950s and spread throughout Eurasia. It was imported as a fur animal, but some of it escaped from breeding and settled on our continent. The mink can adapt perfectly to any conditions. It hunts on land, climbs trees, and swims. It feeds on birds, fish, amphibians, mammals, and invertebrates - it is a very voracious species.

American mink
The American mink is a species of a predatory mammal from the mustelid family.

Mustelids and martens (Mustelidae) are the most numerous family of predatory mammals, including small and medium-sized animals. They have a slender body and short legs and are perfectly adapted to a predatory lifestyle in various environments. The mustelid family includes about 60 species, including weasels, martens, otters, minks, and badgers. They are closely related to pandas, skunks, and raccoons. Mustelids are very efficient and persistent hunters, some are bred for fur, and others are kept as pets.

The American mink is not closely related to the European mink, and these species cannot interbreed.

Some researchers believe that the appearance of the American mink on our continent was the cause of a significant decline in the European mink population. According to others, it replaced the previously exterminated European mink.

The wild population of American mink spread thanks to the Soviet Union, which from 1937 to the 1950s carried out a large-scale acclimatization campaign for these animals.

About 20.000 were probably released then into the wild, and they spread rapidly.

Minks were imported to Poland in 1953 for breeding purposes.

Many of them managed to escape from the farms and were released by various environmental organizations. By the end of the 1990s, the American mink managed to colonize almost the entire territory of Poland.

This raises concerns among naturalists because the American mink has turned out to be a very destructive species for native zoocenoses.

Local populations of some birds and mammals have been destroyed. The expansion of the American mink is probably responsible for the population decline, including coot and muskrat.

The elongated body of the American mink, 30-43 cm long, has short legs and a 13-23 cm long tail.

The head is small and quite flat, and the toes of the hind legs are webbed. Males differ in size from females (the upper size ranges are for males and the lower for females). Body weight, depending on gender, ranges from 0.7 to 1.3 kg.

These animals are covered with thick, soft fur that is impermeable to water.

The fur is usually brown and the chin is white.

Farmed mink varieties are 30 percent larger than wild mink species and weigh twice as much.

The farm produced over 200 colorful varieties of mink. They include white, black, brown, yellow (so-called palomino), silvery-blue, and "velvet", which is characterized by short, silky hair.

The largest producers of mink skins in the world are the Scandinavian countries: Norway, Finland, Sweden, as well as Denmark and the Netherlands.

Mink breeding is prohibited in many countries, including Switzerland - although they have never been bred there, Austria, and Great Britain. 

American minks are most active at night and at dusk.American minks are most active at night and at dusk.

During the day, they stay in earthen burrows up to 3 m long, which they have dug themselves. It also happens that they do not dig their burrows, but occupy existing ones, or settle in low-lying hollows or uprooted trees (overturned trees with torn roots).

They live near forest waters, marking the boundaries of their territory with the secretions of their perianal glands.

The size of the territory depends on the sex, males have areas of up to 440 ha, and females 8-20 ha.

Outside the mating season, minks lead a solitary lifestyle and react with aggression towards members of their own species.

They are quiet animals that rarely make sounds.

They swim and dive excellently, even at a depth of up to 6 m.

Mink fur does not get wet thanks to the layer of air that creates insulation.

The mating season for minks is from February to early April.

After a gestation period of approximately 40-80 days, usually 2-3 young are born at the end of April or in May. The young are born in a nest lined with hair, feathers, and dry plants. After 6 weeks of life, the young are already partially independent, and in the fall the mother leaves them.

Females reach sexual maturity after about a year, males after 18 months.

Minks live for 4 to 6 years.

Minks are very skillful hunters and will eat basically anything that is within their reach.

Their menu includes small mammals (hares, muskrats, shrews), frogs, arthropods, insects, fish, birds, and bird eggs.

Minks are a great threat, especially to seabirds that live in colonies, on islands several kilometers away from the mainland.

A mink can swim to an island and kill up to a hundred chicks in one night. A single individual can thus decimate a colony of several thousand birds.

The American mink is a competitor of the most endangered mammal in Europe - the European mink.
An oil called mink oil is made from the fat layer under the mink's skin.

It is a source of palmitoleic acid, which has properties similar to human sebum. For this reason, it is used in cosmetics and medical products. It is also used to preserve various types of leather. Mink oil is resistant to UVA and UVB ultraviolet radiation, does not cause allergies does not turn rancid, and is used for the production of perfumes and soaps.

Hungry for more facts?

Latest topics

42 facts about Kyshtym disaster
42 facts about Kyshtym disaster
The first nuclear accident in Earth's history
Before information about it saw the light of day, the Soviets hid it for over 30 years. The explosion at the Mayak combine was the first nuclear accid ...
37 facts about Saint Petersburg
37 facts about Saint Petersburg
A city of many names
It was a dream and a matter of prestige for the Romanov dynasty to gain access to the Baltic Sea and build a metropolis to testify to Russia's emergin ...
32 facts about Peter the Great
32 facts about Peter the Great
The first Emperor of all Russia
Peter the Great is considered one of Russia's greatest rulers. He was a great reformer, strategist, and builder who was the first of the tsars to trav ...
39 facts about Dyatlov Pass incident
39 facts about Dyatlov Pass incident
Mysterious tragedy in the Ural mountains
The case of a group of students at the Ural Polytechnical Institute in Sverdlovsk continues to arouse great interest and raise many questions. A group ...
11 facts about Brooklyn Bridge
11 facts about Brooklyn Bridge
The first steel suspension bridge in the world
It is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the world. It connects Brooklyn with Manhattan, runs over the East River, and was completed in 1883. ...
31 facts about Brazil
31 facts about Brazil
South America's largest country
Brazil is the largest and most populous country in South America and one of the largest and most populous countries in the world. A former Portuguese ...
44 facts about Ghent
44 facts about Ghent
City of three towers
Ghent is one of Belgium's most visited cities by tourists. This beautiful old Flanders city combines dignity, beauty, culture, and creativity. It is a ...
31 facts about Thailand
31 facts about Thailand
A country on the Indochinese Peninsula
Thailand is an Asian country located in its south-eastern part, famous for its interesting culture and religious architecture. This exotic country, wh ...

Similar topics