Mink are members of the weasel family. They are semi-aquatic furbearers, spending most of their time in and around water.
Mink have bushy tails, long bodies, and short legs compared to their body length. Males are larger than females, about 2 feet long (including the tail) and weigh 2 to 4 pounds. Females are about 1 1/2 feet long and weigh up to 2 pounds. Mink fur is a rich brown, darkening along the back and almost black at the tail tip. Some minks have white spots on their chests and bellies, and a white spot under their chins. Their heads are small with low, round ears. A mink's bushy tail makes up around one-third of the mink’s length.
Mink usually eat fresh meat, but will occasionally store a carcass for a few days while continuing to eat it. Most of their food comes from the water, including fish, amphibians, crustaceans, muskrats, and snails. Mink also feed on small birds and rodents.
Mink are more numerous where there are many streams, ponds and lakes. They are adapted to both land and water, but prefer to live near a water’s edge. Mink are excellent divers and swimmers. They will travel on land to upland areas to hunt and find mates. Mink dens can be in hollow logs, ground burrows, rocks, bridge abutments or muskrat houses.
Mink are mostly solitary except during the breeding season in March. Three to six babies are born in late April or May, about 42 days following conception. Newborn mink weigh only a quarter-ounce. They are helpless and completely dependent on their mother. Males do not help raise mink babies. Mothers will move the family to another den if disturbed. Mink babies open their eyes and begin to eat solid food at about 1 month old. They start to hunt with their mother at about two months old. They go off on their own in the fall.
THREATS TO MINK
Mink are trapped, and raised in inhumane conditions on fur farms, for the fur fashion industry.
Mink wetland habitats are disappearing due to animal agriculture, urban sprawl and human development.
In some states mink have been susceptible to heavy metal contamination in watersheds.
Resident landowners and tenants trap and shoot mink that cause damage to property.