19 to 28 inches. Weight: 1.5
to 2 pounds.
Usually found along streams and lakes.
Commonly occurs in marshes and beaver ponds.
Permanence of water and dependable source of food
are most important habitat components. Often
uses den sites of other animals and is commonly
found in association with muskrats.
Preys primarily on small mammals, birds, eggs,
frogs, and fish. Its diet is almost entirely
animal. During summer preys on waterfowl.
Semi-aquatic forager. Can kill prey larger
than itself. Chiefly nocturnal, territorial,
and secretive. Dens underneath piles of brush
or driftwood, under rocks, in hollow logs, and in
houses or dens abandoned by beavers or muskrats.
Very aggressive mating behavior. Mates from
January through March; 40 to 79 day gestation;
delayed implantation; young born during April or
May; averages 4 to 5 per litter.
Weasel - has white or yellow underparts.
Marten - has buffy patch on throat and breast.
River otter - much larger.
Wild mink are adaptable to a
wide range of climates, and this species is far more
common than most people realize. Efficient
predators, mink are quick on land, skilled swimmers,
and capable tree climbers. They are often
found in habitat types suitable for muskrats, and
they are often taken in traps set for muskrats.
Mink are usually shy, but they can become bold when
their curiosity is aroused. Mink are not
sociable with others of their kind, except during
the breeding season, and avoidance or fighting
between mink is common.
Mink have 34 teeth, with 4 prominent canine teeth to
help in the killing of prey species. Mink have rather
long and supple bodies with relatively short legs.
There are 5 toes on each foot which have partial webbing
between toes. Tails are fully furred.
Males are larger than females.
Overall lengths of males are 20 to 30 inches, and
females measure 16 to 21 inches. Male weights
exceed 3 pounds in many areas and females usually weigh
1 1/2 to 2 pounds.
Mink fur is short and dense.
Shades of color vary somewhat according to region, and
individuals. Most shades of color are
chocolate to almost black. Patches of white fur
are typical on the chins of most mink, and many mink
exhibit patches of white fur on throats, chests and
bellies. These small patches are irregular in
shape, and vary with the individual. In some areas,
occasional mink have a light colored and wooly underfur.
This is evident on the lower backs of the mink.
These pelts are referred to as "cotton" mink, and these
pelts have lesser value.
Mink glands are present near the
anal area under the skin of both male and female mink.
Musk is sometimes released when the mink is excited or
stressed. The odor is powerful and unpleasant.
Breeding occurs over much of the mink range during late
February or early March. Males attempt to find
several females during this short season. The
males usually abandon the females after breeding takes
Females have one litter per
year, usually raising about 4 young. Gestation
times vary from 40 to 75 days, due to a delayed
Females raise their
young entirely by themselves. Dens in abandoned
muskrat dens, hollow logs, and rock piles are common.
Mink do not usually dig their own dens, but they
sometimes burrow into exposed muskrat and beaver lodges
above the waterline for denning purposes. Many
female mink seem to seek out secluded ponds or small
streams with an abundant food supply and good protection
to raise their young.
mink have territories or ranges much larger than
females. Males seem to be constantly on the move,
covering miles in a single day. Females often
restrict their travels at night to 20 acres or so in
marsh habitats, and they seldom travel further than 100
years up or down stream from their dens near rivers or
The males seem to have routes
that might cover 25 miles or more. These males
have any number of dens that they use when they are in
the area, or feel like resting. It appears that
males commonly store food in some of these dens for
Many trappers think that males
return from their travels about once a week, and follow
nearly the exact same route, crossing streams at the
same places, and investigating the same brush piles or
undercut banks for food. Holes, hollow logs,
rock piles, and brush piles interest many mink as
protected places to hunt.
Mink are capable at trailing or
stalking prey species, but it appears that they are
usually opportunistic feeders who pursue prey after they
surprise and startle the prey into flight. Mink
hunt and travel mostly at night, but they are
occasionally active during the day, especially just
before storms or when it is raining or snowing.
During periods of extreme cold or deep snow, mink seem
to stay near their dens. At times, they will
live in dens with underwater accesses and do the bulk of
their hunting under the ice.
Mink kill a variety of prey
species, including muskrats, crayfish, frogs, rabbits,
fish, birds, snakes, grasshoppers, and water beetles.
Mink often catch fish and have also been known to enter
chicken houses and kill chickens.
Some individual mink appear to
kill muskrats with regularity, while other individual
mink do not appear to kill muskrats at all. A
mature muskrat can surely give a mink a battle in a
tight place, or when cornered. Many mink seem to
prefer easier and safer prey. However, muskrat
seems to be a preferred food for mink, and virtually all
mink will scavenge dead muskrats if they are hungry and
the meat is fresh. They are capable of
catching a muskrat in the water because they use all
four feet for propulsion, and the muskrat only uses its
back feet for propulsion, with the tail acting more as a
rudder. Mink probably service the muskrat resource
more than other species by killing weakened or diseased
muskrats. Evidence suggests that mink prey heavily
upon muskrats when muskrats are diseased, and this may
help prevent the spreading of these diseases to healthy
are usually shy and avoid humans, but at times, exhibit
boldness when their curiosity is triggered.
Although mink are sometimes
found traveling or living far from water, most prefer
the habitats found along the shores of streams, lakes,
marshes, canals, and ponds. Mink usually hug the shores
as they travel, and prefer staying on dry land when they
have a choice. At times, an obstacle such as a
protruding rock or log may cause the mink to detour into
Mink are preyed upon by owls,
fox, coyotes, bobcats and dogs. Internal parasites
include flukes, roundworms, and tapeworms.
External parasites include fleas, ticks and lice.
Mink are vulnerable to distemper, parvo enteritis,
encephalitis, and rabies.
A 7 year old mink is considered
old; and worn teeth are an indication of age.
Best Management Practices
Special Regulations Note
STATEWIDE SEASON DATES:
November 1 - April 15 of the following year except state
Wildlife Management Areas and specific closures (See