Itís amazing how many
people do not know that a healthy population of Mink exists in Western
New York. Perhaps because, like our local flying squirrels, which are
seldom seen, they are nocturnal. Mink are also local residents that
spend most of their time near creeks, ponds, rivers and lakes. Mink are
reclusive creatures that prefer to live alone. Being somewhat nomadic,
they rarely take up residence in any one spot for very long.
Mink spend most of their
active time bounding along, not too far from a body of water, in search
of food. Mink are excellent swimmers.
In water, they resemble a scaled down version of their close cousin, the
Otter. Creeks and ponds are a Mink's playground as well as a major food
source. In water, fish, crayfish and frogs make up a large portion
of a Minkís diet. On land, Mink are as capable a hunter as the Weasel.
Mink are carnivorous and will eat rodents, rabbits, birds, and insects.
Because of their short legs, they are not capable of outrunning rabbits,
or other faster animals. Mink mainly hunt on land by sniffing at
crevices, under rocks, or scouting out hollow logs and ground dens, much
like a Ferret. Once they pick up the scent of prey, they will pursue
their quarry, by nose, for a short distance.
Mink are agile
contortionists that are aggressive by nature during hunting and mating.
Mink are able to climb, but not very well. Mink are in the group of musk
producing mammals. Others in this group are Weasels, Otters, Ferrets,
Fisher, Martins, Skunks and Badgers. Because Mink are long and lean with
a quick metabolism, they must eat quite a bit in ratio to size. Colors
range from tan to chocolate brown, and black. All mink have a white chin
patch of fur. Males can reach 29 inches in length (tail included) and
weigh-in at about 5 pounds. Females are considerably smaller. Mating
occurs in January or February, almost always accompanied by brutal
fighting between the male and female. Females have the ability of
delayed fertilization and will mate with several males, storing the
sperm of each. The young of the same litter born around mid-May can have
different fathers. Unlike most young mammals, the kits develop teeth
before their eyes open at about 5 weeks of age. The mother will bring
meat for them to eat when they are only 3 to 4 weeks old. The young stay
with Mom to learn about survival until the first of September. The kits
are then driven away to seek out their own solitary existence.
© Copyright 2000
Messinger Woods Wildlife Care & Education Center, Inc.
profile is copyrighted and may only be reprinted with the express
permission of Messinger Woods Wildlife Care & Education Center, Inc.
Return to the Trail