American mink

The American mink (Neovison vison) is a semiaquatic species of mustelid native to North America, though human intervention has expanded its range to many parts of Europe and South America. Because of range expansion, the American mink is classed as a least-concern species by the IUCN.[1] Since the extinction of the sea mink, the American mink is the only extant member of the genus Neovison. 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.[3]

American mink
Temporal range: Recent
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Mustelidae
Genus: Neovison
N. vison
Binomial name
Neovison vison
(Schreber, 1777)[2]

15, see text

  • 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
American Mink area
American mink range in North America
Mapa Neovison vison
Native (red) and introduced (pink) range of American mink

Indigenous names


As a species, the American mink represents a more specialized form than the European mink in the direction of carnivory, as indicated by the more developed structure of the skull.[13] Fossil records of the American mink go back as far as the Irvingtonian, though the species is uncommon among Pleistocene animals. Its fossil range corresponds with the species' current natural range. The American minks of the Pleistocene did not differ much in size or morphology from modern populations, though a slight trend toward increased size is apparent from the Irvingtonian through to the Illinoian and Wisconsinan periods.[14]

Although superficially similar to the European mink, studies indicate the American mink's closest relative is the Siberian weasel (kolonok) of Asia. The American mink has been recorded to hybridize with European minks and polecats in captivity, though the hybrid embryos of the American and European minks are usually reabsorbed.[15]


As of 2005,[16] 15 subspecies are recognised.



Skeleton of an American mink from the Muséum national d'histoire naturelle
MSU V2P1b - Mustela vison skull
Skull, as illustrated by N. N. Kondakov.
Neovison vison quills
American mink with porcupine quills in its face. Yarmouth, NS

The American mink differs from members of the genus Mustela (stoats and weasels) by its larger size and stouter form, which closely approach those of martens. It shares with martens a uniformly enlarged, bushy and somewhat tapering tail, rather than a slenderly terete tail with an enlarged bushy tip, as is the case in stoats.[18] The American mink is similar in build to the European mink, but the tail is longer (constituting 38–51% of its body length).[19]

The 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.[20] 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 upper molars are larger and more massive than those of the European mink.[21] The dental formula is

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.[22][23] The feet are broad, with webbed digits.[18] It generally has eight nipples, with one pair of inguinal teats and three pairs of abdominal teats.[19] The adult male's penis is 2.2 in (5.6 cm) long, and is covered by a sheath. The baculum is well-developed, being triangular in cross section and curved at the tip.[20]

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.[13]

American mink paws, as illustrated by Ernest Thompson Seton


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 lower side being only slightly lighter than the upper body. 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.[19] The thick underfur and oily guard hairs render the pelage water-resistant, with the length of the guard hairs being intermediate between those of otters and polecats, thus indicating the American mink is incompletely adapted to an aquatic life. It moults twice a year, during spring and autumn.[20] It does not turn white in winter.[24] A variety of different colour mutations have arisen from experimental breeding on fur farms.[15]


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.[25] During swimming, the mink propels itself primarily through undulating movements of the trunk. When diving, it undergoes a state of rapid bradycardia, which is likely an adaptation to conserve oxygen.[20] In warm water (24 °C (75 °F)), the American mink can swim for three hours without stopping, but in cold water it can die within 27 minutes.[26] It generally dives to depths of 12 in (30 cm) for 10 seconds, though depths of 3 m lasting 60 seconds have been recorded. It typically catches fish after five- to 20-second chases.[25]

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).[20] Scent glands may also be located on the throat and chest.[27] 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".[28]


Social and territorial behaviours

A southern mink (N. v. vulgivagus) in a threatening posture
Slick Mink
American mink emerges from a pond.

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'.[25] As long as it is close to water, the American mink is not fussy about its choice of den. 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 burrows they dig themselves are typically about four inches in diameter and may continue along for 10–12 feet (300–370 cm) at a depth of 2–3 feet (61–91 cm). The American mink may nest in burrows dug previously by muskrats, badgers and skunks, and may also dig dens in old ant hills. The nesting chamber is at the end of a four-inch tunnel, and is about a foot in diameter. It is warm, dry, and lined with straw and feathers.[29] The American mink's dens are characterized by a large number of entrances and twisting passages. The number of exits varies from one to eight.[26]

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.[27] Ernest Thompson Seton reported hearing minks growl and snarl when confronting a threat.[30] During aggressive interactions, this mink asserts its dominance by arching its back, puffing up, and lashing its tail, stamping and scraping the ground with its feet, and opening its mouth in a threat-gape. Should this be unsuccessful, fights may result, with injuries to the head and neck.[27]

Mink headshot
American mink in a burrow

Reproduction and development

American Mink - Young
American mink kits

The American mink is a promiscuous animal that does not form pair bonds.[25] The start of mating season ranges from February in its southern range to April in the north.[20] In its introduced range, the American mink breeds one month earlier than the European mink.[31] Males commonly fight during the mating season, which may result in the formation of loose, temporary dominance hierarchies governing access to receptive females.[25] The mating season lasts for three weeks, with ovulation being induced by the presence of males. The mating process is violent, with the male typically biting the female on the nape of the neck and pinning her with his forefeet. Mating lasts from 10 minutes to four hours. Females are receptive for seven- to 10-day intervals during the three-week breeding season, and can mate with multiple males. Along with the striped skunk, the American mink is among the only mammals to mate in spring that have a short delay before implantation. This delayed implantation allows pregnant minks to keep track of environmental conditions and select an ideal time and place for parturition.[20]

The gestation period lasts from 40 to 75 days, with actual embryonic development taking place after 30–32 days, indicating delayed implantation can last from eight to 45 days. The young are born from April to June, in litters consisting of four kits on average.[20] The litters are often multiply sired.[32] Exceptionally large litters of 11 kits have been recorded in Tartaria and 16 in the United States.[31] The kits are blind at birth, weighing six grams and possessing a short coat of fine, silver-white hairs.[20] The kits are dependent on their mother's milk, which contains 3.8% lipids, 6.2% protein, 4.6% lactose and 10.66% mineral salts.[31] Their eyes open after 25 days, with weaning occurring after five weeks. The kits begin hunting after eight weeks of age, but stay close to their mother until autumn, when they become independent. Sexual maturity is attained during the kit's first spring, when they are about 10 months old.[20]


Mink with catch
American mink with fish, in Norway

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.[33] The American mink often kills birds, including larger species like seagulls and cormorants, by drowning. In its natural range, fish are its primary prey. Although inferior to the North American river otter in hunting fish, Audubon and Bachman once reported seeing a mink carrying a foot-long trout. Mink inhabiting the prairie sloughs primarily target frogs, tadpoles, and mice.[34] It is a formidable predator of muskrats, which are chased underwater and killed in their own burrows. Among the rodents killed by the American mink in its native range are rats and mice of the genera Hesperomys, Microtus, Sigmodon, and Neotoma. Marsh rabbits are frequently taken in marshy or swampy tracts.[35]

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.[36] In the British Isles, dietary composition varies seasonally and regionally. European rabbits are the most commonly taken prey in areas where they are common, especially in summer. A range of small rodents and insectivores are preyed upon, but to a lesser degree. European hares are occasionally attacked. 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. Aquatic species preyed upon in Britain include European eels, rock-pool fish such as blenny, shore crabs and crayfish.[37] American minks have been implicated in the decline of the water vole in the United Kingdom and linked to the decline of waterfowl across their range in Europe. They are now considered vermin in much of Europe and are hunted for the purpose of wildlife management.[38] In the 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.[39]

The American mink may pose a threat to poultry. According to Clinton Hart Merriam[40] and Ernest Thompson Seton,[41] although the American mink is a potential poultry thief, it is overall less damaging than the stoat. Unlike the stoat, which often engages in surplus killing, the mink usually limits itself to killing and eating one fowl during each attack. Studies in Britain indicate poultry and game birds only constitute 1% of the animals' overall diets;[37] small mammals, especially rabbits, tend to dominate, followed by fish and birds, especially moorhens and coots.[42]

Relationships with other predators

The American mink replaces and sometimes kills the European mink wherever their ranges overlap.[43] The decline of European mink populations seems to coincide with the spread of the American mink.[44] The diets of the American mink and European otter overlap to a great extent. 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.[45]


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).[46]



The species' natural range encompasses North America from Alaska and Canada through the United States except Arizona and the more arid areas of California, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, and West Texas.[1]


Argentina and Chile

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.[47] In Argentina the mink is actually it is one of the major menaces of the Podiceps gallardoi, which risks becoming extinct[48].

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 inbetween where the mink has not being found, probably due to biogeographic barriers. One of the latest areas where the mink has been found is Chiloé Archipelago where minks were reported for the first time 2013 which made scientist suspect they may have arrived in a ship.[49]

Mainland Europe and British Isles

Feral American minks in Europe are thought to be of domesticated stock derived from the N. v. vison, N. v. melampeplus and N. v. ingens subspecies. The first specimens were imported to Europe in 1920 for fur-farming purposes. The American mink was introduced in Italy in the 1950s, and currently resides mostly in the northeastern part of the Italian Peninsula. The majority of these populations do not appear to be self-sufficient, though minks in the Monti Prenestini and Simbruini in Lazio have reproduced successfully.[50]

Escapees of fur farming farms established a self-sustaining and expanding population in the Iberian peninsula by the second half of the 20th century. In 2013, the Spanish government announced an eradication plan of the species,[51] as a means to protect the falling populations of European mink and other endangered species affected such as the Pyrenean desman.

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.[52]

The American mink was first imported to Great Britain in 1929, though a series of escapes and releases lead 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.[25] Until 2005, mink hunting with packs of hounds occurred in the UK. The total mink population in Great Britain is estimated at 110,000 (England; 46,750, Scotland; 52,250, Wales; 9,750). This population may be declining as European otter numbers increase. There are no estimates for the mink population in Ireland, but it is thought to be low, because of Ireland's strong otter population.[53]

Former USSR

An American mink in Lithuania's Kėdainiai district

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.[54]


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 sandeel populations resulting in a drop in the seabird populations on which the minks feed.[55]

Diseases and parasites

The American mink often carries light tick and flea infestations. Tick species known to infest minks include Ixodes hexagonus, Ixodes canisuga, Ixodes ricinus, and Ixodes acuminatus. Flea species known to infest minks include Palaeopsylla minor, Malaraeus penicilliger, Ctenopthalmus noblis, Megabothris walkeri, Typhloceras poppei, and Nosopsyllus fasciatus. Endoparasites include Skrjabingylus nasicola and Troglotrema acutum.[53] Trematode Metorchis conjunctus can also infect American minks.[56]

Transmissible 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.[57] Further testing revealed this agent is transmissible between mink, cattle, and sheep. The Stetsonville outbreak may have been due to the animals being fed the carcasses or otherwise consuming other infected animals.[58]

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.[59] When hundreds or thousands of released domestic minks flood an ecosystem, it causes a great disturbance for the wild minks, resulting in the deaths of the majority of the released mink and many of the wild ones from starvation or injuries incurred while fighting over territory.[59] When a domestic mink survives long enough to reproduce, it may cause problems for the wild mink populations.[60] The adding of weaker domestic mink genes into wild mink populations is believed by some to have contributed to the decline of mink populations in Canada.[60]

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.[61] Another Danish study reported a significant majority of the "wild" mink were mink which had escaped from fur farms. About 47% had escaped within two months, 31% had escaped prior to two months, and 21% "may or may not have been born in nature." The survival rate for recently released minks is reportedly lower than for wild minks, but if feral minks survive at least two months, their survival rate is the same as for wild minks. The authors suggest this is due to the rapid behavioural adaptation of the animals.[62]

Relationships with humans

Fur use

American minks are primarily used in manufacturing fur coats, jackets, and capes. Pelts which 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.[63] The most valuable peltries come from eastern Canada which, although the smallest, are the silkiest and darkest.[64]


Illustration of an American mink approaching a board or log trap

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.[65] Minks were legally trapped from early November to early April, when their pelts were prime.[66] Minks caught in traps cling to life with great tenacity, having been known to break their teeth in trying to extricate themselves from steel traps.[67] Elliott Coues described a trapped mink thus:

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. It has always struck me as the most nearly diabolical of anything in animal physiognomy. 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. As may well be supposed, the creature must not be incautiously dealt with when in such a frame of mind.

— [67]

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.[68] On the American prairies, only the steel trap was used, because of the lack of timber.[69]


Mink colours
Various American mink colour mutations

Breeding American minks for their fur began in the late 19th century, as increasing enthusiasm for mink pelts made the harvesting of wild minks insufficient to meet the new demands. American minks are easily kept in captivity, and breed readily.[70] In 2005, the U.S. ranked fourth in production behind Denmark, China and the Netherlands. Minks typically breed in March, and give birth to their litters in May. Farmers vaccinate the young kits for botulism, distemper, enteritis, and, if needed, pneumonia. They are harvested in late November and December. Methods for killing animals on fur farms, as on all farms, are detailed in the American Veterinary Medical Association's Report on Euthanasia which is used as a voluntary guideline for state departments of agriculture which have jurisdiction over all farms raising domesticated livestock, including minks.[71] In the past, some mink farms successfully provided pools of water for the mink to swim;[72] however, this practice is unheard-of in modern mink production. Minks are motivated to access swimming water, and the absence of water is a source of frustration on modern farms.[73] The ideal diet for farm-bred minks consists of four to five ounces of horse meat and a quarter-pint of milk once daily.[72]

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:[74]

As pets

Mink as pet

Wild minks can be tamed if caught young, but can be difficult to handle and are usually not handled bare-handed.[75] In the late 19th century, tame American minks were often reared for ratting, much as ferrets were used in Europe. They are sometimes more effective ratters than terriers, as they can enter rat holes and drive rats from their hiding places. Because of their fondness for bathing, captive American minks may enter kettles or other open water-containing vessels. When minks of wild stock are confined with tame ones, the latter invariably dominate the former. They have also been known to dominate cats in confrontations.[76] Although intelligent, minks are not quick to learn tricks taught to them by their owners.[77] Although domestic minks have been bred in captivity for almost a century, they have not been bred to be tame. Domestic minks have been bred for size, fur quality, and color. However, the U.S. Fur Commission claims "mink are truly domesticated animals", based on the number of years they have been kept on fur farms.[78]


As an invasive species in the United Kingdom, minks have been the subject of at least two novels. Ewan Clarkson's 1968 Break for Freedom (published as Syla, the Mink in the US) tells the story of a female mink escaped from a fur farm in a realistic style. On the other hand, A.R. Lloyd's 1982 Kine is a heroic fantasy with the minks as villains and the weasels and other indigenous animals as heroes.

See also



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  3. ^ Heptner & Sludskii 2002, p. 745
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  12. ^ Rudes Tuscarora-English, English-Tuscarora Dictionary 1999 University of Toronto Press ISBN 0-8020-4336-4
  13. ^ a b Heptner & Sludskii 2002, pp. 1397–1399
  14. ^ Kurtén 1980, p. 151
  15. ^ a b Harris & Yalden 2008, p. 488
  16. ^ Wozencraft, W.C. (2005). "Order Carnivora". In Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M. Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Anthony 1928, pp. 109–110
  18. ^ a b Coues 1877, pp. 161–162
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External links

Data related to Neovison vison at Wikispecies Media related to Neovison vison at Wikimedia Commons The dictionary definition of American mink at Wiktionary

American Legend Cooperative

The American Legend Cooperative (ALC) was a agricultural marketing cooperative of mink fur farmers in the United States and Canada, was best known for its Blackglama and American Legend brands of fur. American Legend was formed in 1986 as a merger of the Great Lakes Mink Association (GLMA) and the Mutation Mink Breeders Association (EMBA).

The Great Lakes Mink Association (GLMA) was formed in 1941 by mink breeders in the Great Lakes region of the United States who bred a black-furred mink which they characterize as "the richest, deepest, most lustrous dark mink with the lightest, most flexible leather", and trademarked it as Blackglama. Their long-running advertising campaign is known by the tagline "What becomes a legend most?", featuring a series of celebrities modeling their furs. The mark "Blackglama" is a play on the word "glamor" and the initialism "GLMA".

The Mutation Mink Breeders Association (MMBA) was formed in 1942 by mink ranchers specializing in clear bright fur colors, to which they gave distinctive trade names: Autumn Haze (brown), Desert Gold (light brown), Argenta (grey), Cerulean (blue), Lutetia (gunmetal), Azurene (pale grey), Jasmine (white), Tourmaline (pale beige), Arcturus (lavender beige), Diadem (pale brown), Aeolian (grey taupe). In 1948, they adopted the name EMBA; EMBA {{}}

In 2018, North American Fur Auctions acquired the Blackglama label.

Bayou Segnette State Park

Bayou Segnette State Park is located in Westwego, Jefferson Parish, southwest of New Orleans, Louisiana, on the west bank of the Mississippi River.

Bayou Segnette is not far from the urban center of New Orleans, yet it features access to two types of wetlands, swamp and marsh. Saltwater intrusion coming into the canals from the Gulf of Mexico created the marsh. This is a remarkable habitat for plant and wildlife. This habitat is home to American alligators, coypu, nine-banded armadillos, Virginia opossum, raccoons, American mink, red-tailed hawks, kites, red-winged blackbirds, bald eagles, and northern cardinals.

European mink

The European mink (Mustela lutreola), also known as the Russian mink and Eurasian mink, is a semiaquatic species of mustelid native to Europe.

It is similar in colour to the American mink, but is slightly smaller and has a less specialized skull. Despite having a similar name, build and behaviour, the European mink is not closely related to the American mink, being much closer to the European polecat and Siberian weasel (kolonok). The European mink occurs primarily by forest streams unlikely to freeze in winter. It primarily feeds on voles, frogs, fish, crustaceans and insects.The European mink is listed by the IUCN as Critically Endangered due to an ongoing reduction in numbers, having been calculated as declining more than 50% over the past three generations and expected to decline at a rate exceeding 80% over the next three generations. European mink numbers began to shrink during the 19th century, with the species rapidly becoming extinct in some parts of Central Europe. During the 20th century, mink numbers declined all throughout their range, the reasons for which having been hypothesised to be due to a combination of factors, including climate change, competition with (as well as diseases spread by) the introduced American mink, habitat destruction, declines in crayfish numbers and hybridisation with the European polecat. In Central Europe and Finland, the decline preceded the introduction of the American mink, having likely been due to the destruction of river ecosystems, while in Estonia, the decline seems to coincide with the spread of the American mink.

European water vole

The European water vole or northern water vole (Arvicola amphibius, included in synonymy: A. terrestris), is a semiaquatic rodent. It is often informally called the water rat, though it only superficially resembles a true rat. Water voles have rounder noses than rats, deep brown fur, chubby faces and short fuzzy ears; unlike rats their tails, paws and ears are covered with hair.

In the wild, on average, water voles only live about five months. Maximum longevity in captivity is two and a half years.

Fauna of the United States

The fauna of the United States of America is all the animals living in the Continental United States and its surrounding seas and islands, the Hawaiian Archipelago, Alaska in the Arctic, and several island-territories in the Pacific and in the Caribbean. The U.S. has many distinctive indigenous species found nowhere else on Earth. With most of the North American continent, the U.S. lies in the Nearctic faunistic realm, a region containing an assemblage of species similar to northern parts of Africa and Eurasia.An estimated 432 species of mammals characterize the fauna of the continental U.S. There are more than 800 species of bird and more than 100,000 known species of insects. There are 311 known reptiles, 295 amphibians and 1154 known fish species in the U.S. Known animals that exist in all of the lower 48 states include white-tailed deer, bobcat, raccoon, muskrat, striped skunk, barn owl, American mink, American beaver, North American river otter and red fox. The red-tailed hawk is one of the most widely distributed hawks not only in the U.S., but in the Americas.

Huge parts of the country with the most distinctive indigenous wildlife are protected as national parks. In 2013, the U.S. had more than 6770 national parks or protected areas, all together more than 1,006,619 sq. miles (2,607,131 km2). The first national park was Yellowstone National Park in the state of Wyoming, established in 1872. Yellowstone National Park is widely considered to be the finest megafauna wildlife habitat in the U.S. There are 67 species of mammals in the park, including the gray wolf, the threatened lynx, and the grizzly bear.


Godøy is an island in Giske Municipality in Møre og Romsdal county, Norway. The island is famous for its beautiful nature, dominated by the 497-metre (1,631 ft) tall mountain Storhornet and the large lake Alnesvatnet.

The name Godøy stems back to the Viking age, and is derived from the name "Gud øy", which translates to "Island of God(s)" in English. The current name Godøy can be loosely translated to "Good Island".

Most of the population lives on the southeastern side of the island in Godøy and Leitebakk, although the small fishing village of Alnes, with the old Alnes Lighthouse, is located on the north side of the island about 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) away via a tunnel through the 436-metre (1,430 ft) tall mountain Sloktinden. Godøy Chapel is located on the southern coast of the island.

There is a lot of cultivated farm land along the shores. Fishing and fish processing are the main industries for the island. There is an undersea tunnel, the Godøy Tunnel, which connects Godøy to the neighboring island of Giske. There is further ferry-free road transportation (including the Giske Bridge) that connects the island to the town of Ålesund.A variety of wildlife can be found on the island, mammals such as Red deer, Roe deer, Otter, Harbour seal and American mink are predominant. The steep mountain sides of the island also contain a number of nesting White-tailed eagles.

Hooded grebe

The hooded grebe (Podiceps gallardoi), is a medium-sized grebe found in the southern region of Argentina. It grows to about 32 cm (13 in) in length, and is black and white in color. It is found in isolated lakes in the most remote parts of Patagonia and spends winters along the coast of the same region. In 2012 IUCN uplisted the species from Endangered to Critically Endangered.

List of mammals of Norway

List of mammals with non-domesticated populations in Norway.

McFaddin and Texas Point National Wildlife Refuges

The McFaddin and Texas Point National Wildlife Refuges are located in proximity in southern Jefferson County on the upper Texas coast at Sabine Pass. The refuges have a combined 105.96 square miles (274.4 km2) of fish and wildlife habitat. McFaddin, much the larger one, located at around 29°40′00″N 94°09′00″W, has a total area of 58,861.43 acres (238.20 km²), while the smaller Texas Point, located at around 29°42′00″N 93°53′00″W, has 8,952.02 acres (36.23 km²).Texas Point and McFaddin refuges supply important feeding and resting habitat for migrating and wintering populations of waterfowl using the Central Flyway. Feeding flocks of snow geese have exceeded 70,000 birds at McFaddin.

Dozens of migratory bird species use habitat on both refuges to feed, rest, nest and raise their young. McFaddin contains one of the densest populations of American alligators in Texas. Alligators are most easily seen during the spring, but are often visible throughout the summer and fall.

Mammal species native to Texas include the muskrat, North American river otter, American mink, raccoon, striped skunk, Virginia opossum, nine-banded armadillo, gray fox and bobcat.

Large portions of both refuges are tidally influenced, creating estuarine environments important to a variety of fish, shrimp and crabs, as well as other life forms higher on the food chain that feed on such organisms. These estuaries are productive communities and are vital to the life cycle of many marine species. Some of the more commonly sought after fish found in refuge waters include red drum, flounder, alligator gar and blue catfish.

Located on the coast, Sea Rim State Park borders McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge.


Mink are dark-colored, semiaquatic, carnivorous mammals of the genera Neovison 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. The American mink is larger and more adaptable than the European mink but, due to variations in size, an individual mink usually cannot be determined as European or American with certainty without looking at the skeleton; however, all European mink have a large white patch on their upper lip, whereas only some American mink have this marking: therefore, any mink without the patch is certainly of the American species. Taxonomically, both American and European mink were placed in the same genus Mustela, but most recently, the American mink has been reclassified as belonging to its own genus Neovison.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. American mink have established populations in Europe (including Great Britain) and South America, after being released from mink farms by animal rights activists, or otherwise escaping from captivity. In the UK, under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981, it is illegal to release mink into the wild. In some countries, any live mink caught in traps must be humanely killed.American 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). Trapping is used to control or eliminate introduced American mink populations.Mink oil is used in some medical products and cosmetics, as well as to treat, preserve and waterproof leather.

Mink hunting

Mink hunting is a country sport involving the hunting of American mink with scent hounds along the waterways which make up their habitat, in a manner similar to fox hunting. Mink hunting took place in the countryside in the UK and Ireland, but since 2005 traditional mink hunting has been banned in England and Wales.


Mustelinae is a subfamily of family Mustelidae, which includes weasels, ferrets amd minks.It was formerly defined in a paraphyletic manner to also include wolverines, martens, and many other mustelids, to the exclusion of the otters (Lutrinae).

Møysalen National Park

Møysalen National Park (Norwegian: Møysalen nasjonalpark) is a national park located on the island of Hinnøya in Nordland county, Norway. The park was established in 2003 to preserve undisturbed coastal alpine landscape. The scenery is characterized by peaks jutting out of the ocean and fjords, the highest point is the 1,262-metre (4,140 ft) tall Møysalen mountain. The park mostly lies in Lødingen Municipality, but the far northern part crosses over into Sortland Municipality.

The park is largely undisturbed from its natural state. This is one of very few national parks in Norway that goes all the way down to sea level; the Vestpollen fjord branch of the Øksfjorden is included inside the national park. The park thus also includes areas with undisturbed birch forest in addition to the mountains. There are many fens and bogs in the park, but most are not large.

The steep mountains and rich seashores nearby with many seabirds, as well as populations of rodents, provide good hunting areas for several species of predatory birds including white tailed eagle, golden eagle, gyrfalcon, and peregrine falcon. A number of other rare and endangered birds of prey breed in the park, including kestrels, merlins, and rough-legged buzzards. The animal life is typical for this part of Nordland county. The otter, regarded as a vulnerable species in Norway as a whole, is common here. The area around the Øksfjorden is a core area for moose on Hinnøya island. Other common species are hares, red foxes, stoats and American mink.


Neovison is a genus of mustelids, including the extinct sea mink and the extant American mink.

Savannah River

For the Department of Energy facility, see Savannah River Site

The Savannah River is a major river in the southeastern United States, forming most of the border between the states of South Carolina and Georgia. Two tributaries of the Savannah, the Tugaloo River and the Chattooga River, form the northernmost part of the border. The Savannah River drainage basin extends into the southeastern side of the Appalachian Mountains just inside North Carolina, bounded by the Eastern Continental Divide. The river is around 301 miles (484 km) long. It is formed by the confluence of the Tugaloo River and the Seneca River. Today this confluence is submerged beneath Lake Hartwell. The Tallulah Gorge is located on the Tallulah River, a tributary of the Tugaloo River that forms the northwest branch of the Savannah River.

Two major cities are located along the Savannah River:

Savannah, and Augusta, Georgia. They were nuclei of early English settlements during the Colonial period of American history.

The Savannah River is tidal at Savannah proper. Downstream from there, the river broadens into an estuary before flowing into the Atlantic Ocean. The area where the river's estuary meets the ocean is known as "Tybee Roads". The Intracoastal Waterway flows through a section of the Savannah River near the city of Savannah.

Sea mink

The sea mink (Neovison macrodon) is a recently extinct species of mink that lived on the eastern coast of North America in the family Mustelidae, the largest family in the order Carnivora. It was most closely related to the American mink (Neovison vison), with debate about whether or not the sea mink should be considered a subspecies of the American mink (making it Neovison vison macrodon) or a species of its own. The main justification for a separate species designation is the size difference between the two minks, but other distinctions have been made, such as its redder fur. The only known remains are fragments unearthed in Native American shell middens. Its actual size is speculative, based largely on tooth-remains.

The sea mink was first described in 1903, after its extinction; information regarding its external appearance and habits stem from speculation and from accounts made by fur traders and Native Americans. It may have exhibited behavior similar to the American mink, in that it probably maintained home ranges, was polygynandrous, and had a similar diet, though more seaward-oriented. It was probably found on the New England coast and the Maritime Provinces, though its range may have stretched further south during the last glacial period. Conversely, its range may have been restricted solely to the New England coast, specifically the Gulf of Maine, or just to nearby islands. The largest of the minks, the sea mink was more desirable to fur traders and became extinct in the late 19th or early 20th century.

Southern river otter

The southern river otter (Lontra provocax) is a species of otter that lives in Chile and Argentina. Although called a "river otter", it inhabits both marine and freshwater environments. It sometimes is considered a subspecies of Lontra canadensis. The southern river otter is listed as endangered, due to illegal hunting, water pollution, and habitat loss.

Water rail

The water rail (Rallus aquaticus) is a bird of the rail family which breeds in well-vegetated wetlands across Europe, Asia and North Africa. Northern and eastern populations are migratory, but this species is a permanent resident in the warmer parts of its breeding range. The adult is 23–28 cm (9–11 in) long, and, like other rails, has a body that is flattened laterally, allowing it easier passage through the reed beds it inhabits. It has mainly brown upperparts and blue-grey underparts, black barring on the flanks, long toes, a short tail and a long reddish bill. Immature birds are generally similar in appearance to the adults, but the blue-grey in the plumage is replaced by buff. The downy chicks are black, as with all rails. The former subspecies R. indicus, has distinctive markings and a call that is very different from the pig-like squeal of the western races, and is now usually split as a separate species, the brown-cheeked rail.

The water rail breeds in reed beds and other marshy sites with tall, dense vegetation, building its nest a little above the water level from whatever plants are available nearby. The off-white, blotched eggs are incubated mainly by the female, and the precocial downy chicks hatch in 19–22 days. The female will defend her eggs and brood against intruders, or move them to another location if they are discovered. This species can breed after its first year, and it normally raises two clutches in each season. Water rails are omnivorous, feeding mainly on invertebrates during summer and berries or plant stems towards winter. They are territorial even after breeding, and will aggressively defend feeding areas in winter.

These rails are vulnerable to flooding or freezing conditions, loss of habitat and predation by mammals and large birds. The introduced American mink has exterminated some island populations, but overall the species' huge range and large numbers mean that it is not considered to be threatened.


A weasel is a mammal of the genus Mustela of the family Mustelidae. The genus Mustela includes the least weasels, polecats, stoats, ferrets and minks. Members of this genus are small, active predators, with long and slender bodies and short legs. The family Mustelidae (which also includes badgers, otters, and wolverines) is often referred to as the "weasel family". In the UK, the term "weasel" usually refers to the smallest species, the least weasel (M. nivalis).Weasels vary in length from 173 to 217 mm (6.8 to 8.5 in), females being smaller than the males, and usually have red or brown upper coats and white bellies; some populations of some species moult to a wholly white coat in winter. They have long, slender bodies, which enable them to follow their prey into burrows. Their tails may be from 34 to 52 mm (1.3 to 2.0 in) long.Weasels feed on small mammals and have from time to time been considered vermin because some species took poultry from farms or rabbits from commercial warrens. They do, on the other hand, eat large numbers of rodents. They can be found all across the world except for Antarctica, Australia, and neighbouring islands.

Subspecies Trinomial authority Description Range Synonyms
Eastern or little black mink
N. v. vison

(Nominate subspecies) Mink in the park (2)

Schreber, 1777 The smallest subspecies[17] Eastern Canada, west to Hudson Bay; south in 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[17] 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. Males measure 24 inches (61 cm) in body length and 8.2 inches (21 cm) in tail length[17] 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 Southern tip of Florida
Alaskan mink
N. v. ingens
Osgood, 1900 The largest subspecies, it resembles N. v. energumenos, but is lighter in colour. Males measure 28.8 inches (73 cm) in body length and 7.2 inches (18 cm) in tail length[17] Northern, western and central Alaska; the northern Yukon and 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. Males measure 27 inches (69 cm) in body length and 8 inches (20 cm) in tail length[17] 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. Males measure 26 inches (66 cm) in body length and 9.4 inches (24 cm) in tail length[17] Northern Wisconsin and northern South Dakota south to northern Illinois, northern Missouri and southern Kansas
N. v. lowii Anderson, 1945
Florida mink
N. v. lutensis
Bangs, 1898 A medium-sized subspecies, it has a pale russet to clay- or reddish-brown coat. Males measure 23 inches (58 cm) in body length and 8 inches (20 cm) in tail length[17] Coast of 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. Males measure 28 inches (71 cm) in body length and 7.2 inches (18 cm) in tail length[17] Kenai Peninsula and Cook Inlet
Common mink
N. v. mink


Peale and Palisot de Beauvois, 1796 A larger and more robust form than N. v. vison; it has similar colouration. Males measure 25.5 inches (65 cm) in total length and 8.5 inches (22 cm) in tail length[17] 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. The fur is Van Dyke brown, lighter on the cheeks and sides and darker on the tail. The underparts are walnut brown and white on the chin, with irregular white spots or areas on the throat, chest, inner legs and abdomen. Males measure 24.5 inches (62 cm) in body length and 7.3 inches (19 cm) in tail length[17] Admiralty Island in the Alexander Archipelago
Southern mink
N. v. vulgivaga


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. Males measure 24.5 inches (62 cm) in body length and 7.5 inches (19 cm) in tail length[17] Coast of Louisiana and Mississippi
Colour variant Image Description
Pastel Mink paw fur coat, c 1970 (1).jpg Pale brown and beige fur with darker guard hairs of various hues[74]
Royal pastel Same as above, but with a bluish cast[74]
Silverblu Norka silverblue 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.[74]
Breath of spring Also known as "platinum", this variety has a brighter bluish cast than the Silverblu type.[74]
Blufrost Pale brown fur fibre interspersed with dark brown guard hair, sprinkled with white guard hairs[74]
Kohinur Black cross mink fur cape 1.jpg Also known as "black cross", this variety has white or cream-coloured fur fibre with a sprinkling of blackish guard hairs throughout the body, with the greatest concentrations being on the back and shoulders.[74]
Cerulean Sapphire mink fur coat 1980.jpg 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.
Steel blue Dull battleship grey guard hair, with lighter shaded fur fibre[74]
Lutetia Aleutian mink fur coat 1950 (2).jpg Also known as "Aleutian", this variety has gun-metal grey fur fibre and guard hair.
Extant Carnivora species

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