Watchable Wildlife: Mink


What do mink look like?

They are in the same family as weasels and otters and have the characteristic long, slender body with relatively short legs. They are dark, chestnut brown with a white chin patch. Their tail is slightly bushy. These little guys weigh 1.5 to 3.5 pounds. Their partially webbed toes and thick, waterproofed fur allows for their semi-aquatic lifestyle.

Where can I spot a mink?

Mink are semi-aquatic and are usually spotted near water whether an Ozark stream, Delta bayou or a pond, slough, or river in between. Mink are most plentiful in the Delta region, where irrigation canals and reservoirs are common. A male mink will range 1 to 3 miles along a streambank. Look for mink foraging along the bank. I usually spot them while I’m quietly paddling along a stream or bayou.

What do they eat?

Mink are carnivores and tough, little predators sometimes taking on prey larger than themselves. Favorite foods are frogs and crayfish—they are a skilled swimmer and sometimes catch fish. Mink are opportunists and will prey on muskrat, rabbits, rats, mice and waterfowl. They’ve also been known to raid a hen house. They will sometimes kill more than they can eat and cache the extras for later time.

What are they up to this time of year?

Usually solitary, January through March is the minks breeding season. They have scent glands and can emit and strong, musky odor to communicate with each other, especially during breeding season—they are related to the skunk. Females will have 3 to 4 young in the spring—she uses an expropriated muskrat house or burrow, hollow trees, or beneath tree roots in a stream bank. She lines the burrow with grass, leaves, fur and feathers. Young mink begin foraging for themselves when they’re 8 weeks old and will be on their own by fall.

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