The American Mink is an interesting and abundant – yet often overlooked – animal. While it is native to North America, human intervention has expanded its range to Europe (and to a lesser extent, South America). While the American Mink resembles your typical weasel, its larger size and stout form are key differentiators. With a long and streamlined body, it is capable of entering the burrows of prey and faces limited water resistance while swimming. Body length typically peaks at 45 centimeters, with the tail generally reaching 16-25 centimeters. While it is not exactly one of the fastest animals, with speeds reaching 6.5 km/h, it’s swimming endurance would impress the likes of Michael Phelps: in warm water, American Minks can swim for 3 hours without rest. In cold water, however, it doesn’t fair as well: death while come knocking on its door in under a half-hour. Thus, it is not surprising that minks’ habitats are concentrated around wetlands and other areas with small bodies of water. Being carnivorous, it feeds on rodents, fish, amphibians, birds, and crustaceans. In its natural range, North America, mink feast primarily on small fish.
While this information is all great, it wouldn’t be a proper species profile without highlighting some interesting characteristics and facts.
Glands: American Minks have two anal glands used for scent marking, each of which produces a chemical secretion. While many of us are aware of what skunks do when stressed, few of us are aware of how minks react. When stressed or threatened, American Minks are capable of expelling the chemical contents of its anal glands at a distance of 12 inches. Why does this concern you, you may ask? Well, the scent released is often described as being similar or stronger than that of a skunk. Given the abundance of American Minks in British Columbia, take this as cautionary advice.
Fur: Minks possess lustrous fur; as a result, they are the most frequently farmed animal for fur. In fact, their fur exceeds in economic importance that of silver foxes and sables. That’s a highly valuable coat.
Stay tuned for our next species profile if you enjoy learning some interesting facts about animals in wetlands!