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Field Guide/Mammals/American Mink

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Neovison vison (American Mink)
Family: Weasel family
Size: • Total length:

o 18.5 to 27.5 in (470 to 700 mm) • Tail length: o 9.8 in (250 mm) • Weight:

o 19.4 to 44 oz (550 to 1250 g)[1]
Description: The long body and short stub like legs of this species is similar to a weasel. Along with their long body they also have long bushy tail. Their coat is dark brown with a white strip that starts at the base of the stomach and reaches all the way up to the chin. They also have star webbed like feet that enable them to swim.[2]
Similar Species: • They are distinguished from similar mammals like weasels because of their size. It is bigger in that it is longer and heavier. It is also darker and has a bushier tail than other weasels.

• Another similar species is the river otter. The difference is that the river otter is significantly larger than the mink. Also, the tail on the mink is bushy and thick throughout while the tail on the otter widens at the bottom.

• In general a distinguishing factor of the mink is its white belly.[3]

Range: • This species ranges as far north as Alaska and as far south as Florida.

• They range as far west as Montana and as far east as Maine.

• They generally avoid dry states such as Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah.[4]
Habitat: • This species is found in generally wet areas including swamps, marshes and along streams and lakes.

• They prefer highly vegetated areas where food is abundant.

• They generally live in burrowed holes, under rocks or tree roots, and even in homes where beaver or muskrats once lived but deserted.[4]
Diet: • These animals are carnivores:

o They generally eat small mammals including small birds

o They also eat crayfish, frogs, and fish.[1]
Activity: • This species is mostly nocturnal. Generally activity depends on that of their prey.

• In particular this species is active in the water and can swim easily using their webbed feet.

• This species is active all year long however during winter or periods of cold activity decreases significantly.[3]

Reproduction: • Mating season for this species is between February and April with most occurring in March.

• Gestation lasts on average 51 days but can range anywhere from 40 to 75 days. • A typical litter is 4 but can range anywhere from 2 to 8. • Weaning lasts up until 5 weeks of age.

• Young stay with their mothers until autumn. They then start hunting at around 8 weeks.[3]
Lifespan: • The average life span of a wild mink is around 3 years of age.[3]

Notes: The American Mink is definitely most known for their fur and are still farmed for it to this day. Although the fur is what makes it famous there are also other qualities that it has that makes it quite an exquisite animal. For one it is considered the cutest of the weasel family which can be easily seen if you find one. Its dark brown, dense looking fur with a white belly is what will distinguish it from others in it family. It has a long bushy tail and short stubby legs. This species can be easily found throughout Minnesota and will generally be found on its own as it is a solitary animal. In order to spot one of these animals you will have to go out at night and search in wet areas such as swamps and marshes. This species likes to swim so you could easily find them in the water where they hunt and travel. Overall, this animal can be quite predatory especially around its young so it is best to avoid areas where they would live such as burrowed holes and trees where other animals have lived.
American mink

  1. a b "Neovison vison", Encyclopedia of Life,, retrieved April 14, 2018 
  2. "American Mink", Conserve Ireland: A guide to Irelands Protected Habitats and Species, 2009,, retrieved September 23, 2012 
  3. a b c d Kirkland, Gordon Jr.; Schmidt, David F. (1996), "Neovison vison", Mammalian Species (524): 1–5,, retrieved September 23, 2012 
  4. a b Reid, F.; Helgen, K. (2008), "Neovision Vision", IUCN Red List of Threatened Species,, retrieved April 14, 2018