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Mink Mustela vison


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credit: Mwanner/CCSA

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Family: Mustelidae, Weasels view all from this family

Description Sleek-bodied, with lustrous chocolate- brown to black fur; white spotting on chin and throat. Tail long, somewhat bushy and up to 50% of body length. Male larger than female.

Dimensions 500-720 mm; 700-1,600 g

Similar Species American Marten has similar tail.

Breeding The gestation period lasts from 40-75 days with young born either in April or June, in litters of four kits on average. The kits are blind at birth, weighing six grams and possessing a short coat of fine, silver-white hairs 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

Habitat Swamps, marshes & bogs, Lakes, ponds, rivers & streams, Forests & woodlands, Alpine & subalpine habitats

Range Plains, Great Lakes, New England, Mid-Atlantic, Rocky Mountains, Southeast, Southwest, Florida, Texas, California, Northwest, Eastern Canada, Western Canada, Alaska

Discussion The American mink is a carnivorous animal, which 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 apart. In its natural range, fish are the American mink's 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. It is a formidable predator of muskrats, which are chased underwater and killed in their own burrows.