American mink

Neovison vison

Quick Facts

  • Species

    Native

  • Size

    Two to three pounds. Females tend to be 10-20% smaller than males. 

  • Habitat

    Access to water is the most important determining factor for mink habitat. Minks live near streams, rivers, lakes, marshes and coastlines. They like to take shelter in the abandoned dens of other animals or at the base of trees.

  • Range

    Minks are common throughout most of North America, excluding the Southwestern United States. The American mink can also be found in Europe where it has become an invasive species after having escaped from fur farms.

  • Diet

    Mink eat rodents, birds, amphibians, crustaceans, and fish. 

  • Lifespan

    Wild minks live for three to four years but domesticated minks can live for up to ten years.
  • Status

    Stable

The American mink is a semiaquatic mammal inhabiting most of North America. This animal is a key predator of small mammals, fish, amphibians and insects.

Appearance

Wild American minks are always a dark brown or black with a small white patch on their chin and sometimes a white spot on their chest. Minks have long bodies and short legs, similar to weasels. Their partially webbed feet help them swim. 

Feeding

Mink hunt muskrats, rabbits, birds, frogs, fish, crayfish and insects. During the winter, they sometimes kill more than they need and stock food in their dens. Minks can climb trees and swim underwater to catch prey.

Predators

Birds of prey, bobcats, foxes and coyotes will hunt young mink. Once they reach maturity, minks are rarely hunted because they are well camouflaged, sneaky, and readily defend themselves.

Voice

Minks will purr like a cat when they are happy and hiss when they feel threatened. 

Reproduction and Life Cycle

Minks mate in late winter to early spring. Minks, similar to many mustelids, go through a period of delayed implantation after mating. It can take up to 30 days for the embryo to implant into the uterine wall. Minks are born hairless and blind in the spring. After several weeks, mink young (known as kits) will be weaned and will leave their mother in the fall. Minks reach sexual maturity at ten months of age.

Did You Know?

  • Minks can spray a foul-smelling odor when alarmed.
  • Their partially webbed feet allow them to swim up to 100 feet in water. 
  • When first born, minks are hairless and blind.

Sources and Additional Information

Maryland Mammals
Mink Investigations for the Hudson River NRD
Messages From Mink
Wildlife notes: Mink

Quick Facts

  • Species

    Native

  • Size

    Two to three pounds. Females tend to be 10-20% smaller than males. 

  • Habitat

    Access to water is the most important determining factor for mink habitat. Minks live near streams, rivers, lakes, marshes and coastlines. They like to take shelter in the abandoned dens of other animals or at the base of trees.

  • Range

    Minks are common throughout most of North America, excluding the Southwestern United States. The American mink can also be found in Europe where it has become an invasive species after having escaped from fur farms.

  • Diet

    Mink eat rodents, birds, amphibians, crustaceans, and fish. 

  • Lifespan

    Wild minks live for three to four years but domesticated minks can live for up to ten years.
  • Status

    Stable