A mink is any of several furry, dark-coloured, semi-aquatic, carnivorous mammals of the family Mustelidae, which also includes the weasels and the otters. It is naturally found in North America, northern Europe, and most of Russia west of Ural Mountains. Mink fur has been highly prized for its use in clothing, with hunting giving way to large-scale mink farming. Its treatment has also been a focus of much animal welfare activism.
While mortality is extremely high in the early months of the life of
the American Mink, animals that do survive the first year can live
as long as three years in the wild. In captivity, mink can live
10–12 years and have on average 4–5 kits per litter once a year. The
mink is found in places which suit its habits throughout almost all
North America, from Florida to the Arctic. An endangered subspecies,
the Everglades Mink (Mustela vison evergladensis), is endemic to the
American Mink of other subspecies have found their way into the wild in Europe (including Great Britain) and South America, after many were released from or escaped from mink farms which were no longer commercially viable, trappers are used to control and eliminate any feral mink.
The European mink is one of the most endangered mammals in the world. The endangered western population of European mink Mustela lutreola has shown a large decline over its natural range. The species has been extinct in central Europe since the beginning of the century and the mink's range is actually fragmented into two population units: an eastern population unit ranging from the Urals and Estonia to the Black sea, a population which is already subdivided into small units, and a western population. Inhabiting mainly forest brooks, the European mink occupies an intermediate semi-aquatic niche between the polecat Mustela putorius and the otter Lutra lutra. Polecats and European mink are able to hybridize achieving natural hybridization events between two native species (as found by Lodé Thierry).
This Mink Page is Copyright The Animal Web Guide © 2004 - 2009 Chuck Ayoub