Animal Info - European Mink
1. Profile (Picture)
3. Status and Trends (IUCN Status, Countries Where
Currently Found, Population Estimates, History of Distribution, Threats and Reasons
4. Data on Biology and Ecology (Weight, Habitat, Age to Maturity, Gestation
Period, Birth Season, Birth Rate, Early Development, Dispersal, Maximum Age, Diet, Behavior,
Social Organization, Density and Range)
Mink #1 (38 Kb JPEG) and European
Mink #2 (42 Kb JPEG) (Belarus
Natl. Acad. Sci.); European
Mink #3 (19 Kb JPEG) (Univ.
The European mink is smaller than its American relative, weighing up to 740 g (1.6 lb).
It inhabits the densely vegetated banks of creeks, rivers and lakes. Its diet includes
small mammals, frogs, molluscs, crabs, fish and insects. All mink species are mainly crepuscular and nocturnal.
They are semiaquatic and swim and dive well. Their partly webbed feet are useful for
Mink species are solitary and territorial. A
mink may excavate its own burrow, take one from a water vole or establish a den in a
sheltered location. The female usually has 4 or 5 young per litter.
A century ago the European mink could be found throughout the European continent. It
has declined due to hunting, habitat loss, water pollution and competition with the
American mink, which was introduced into Europe in 1926 for fur farming. Currently, it is
declining rapidly in Eastern Europe and probably exists in small populations in Spain and France.
*** Male American mink can mate with female European mink earlier than can males of the
same species. The embryos are always resorbed before birth, but it means that the European
mink females are unable to breed. (Oryx 1991)
Status and Trends
- 1988 - 1993: Vulnerable
- 1994: Endangered
- 1996 - 2004: Endangered (Criteria: A1ace) (Population Trend: Decreasing)
Countries Where the European Mink Is Currently Found:
2004: Occurs in Belarus,
Russia, and Spain.
It may occur in Greece and the Ukraine.
[Note: Figures given are for wild populations only.]
History of Distribution:
A century ago the European mink could be found throughout the European continent. By
the middle 1970's, it occurred in the Soviet
Union, Finland, eastern Poland, parts of the Balkans, Spain and western France.
Currently, it is declining rapidly in Eastern Europe and probably exists in small
populations in Spain and France. It is now extinct or greatly reduced
over most of its former range (IUCN
Map (light area: past distribution; dark area: present distribution) (33 Kb JPEG) (Spec.
Threats and Reasons for Decline:
Reasons for its decline include hunting, habitat loss, water pollution and competition
with the American mink, which was introduced into Europe in 1926 for fur farming.
Competitive exclusion of the European mink by the American mink has been observed
within 5 - 10 years on the upper Lovat River, a medium-sized river in Russia (Sidorovich,
V.E. et al. 1995).
Data on Biology and Ecology
Up to 440 g (0.9 lb) (female) or 740 g (1.6 lb) (male).
The European mink inhabits the densely vegetated banks of creeks, rivers and lakes. It
is rarely found more than 100 m (330') from fresh water. (Nowak & Paradiso 1983)
The European mink is found in the Caucasus
and Mediterranean Basin
Age to Maturity:
5 - 10 weeks (the variation may result from delayed implantation in some females).
Mating takes place from February - March. Births occur in April and May.
A female has 2 - 7 young per litter, usually 4 or 5.
The female raises the young by herself. They are weaned at about 10 weeks.
Dispersal occurs at 3 - 4 months of age. Males
disperse farther than females, as much as 50 km (31 mi) or more.
At least 6 years (12 years in captivity).
The European mink is a carnivore. It eats small
mammals (especially the water vole), birds, frogs, molluscs, crabs, fish and insects.
Mink are mainly crepuscular and nocturnal. They are semiaquatic and swim and dive
well. Their partly webbed feet are useful for hunting underwater. However, their eyesight
is not well adapted to seeing underwater. Mink rely heavily upon their sense of smell when
foraging for terrestrial prey.
A mink may excavate its own burrow, take one from a water vole or establish a den in a
sheltered location such as a crevice or among tree roots. It often stores food.
Mink are solitary and territorial.
Density and Range:
- Porusya River (Novgorod region):
- 1968 - 1972: 0.5 - 0.8 individuals/km (0.8 - 1.3 individuals/mi)
- 1994: 0.05 - 0.2 individuals/km (0.08 - 0.3 individuals/mi)
- Loknya River basin (Pskov region):
- 1968 - 1972: 0.7 - 1.2 individuals/km (1.1 - 1.9 individuals/mi)
- Loknya and Puznya Rivers:
- 1994: 0.3 - 0.6 individuals/km (0.5 - 1.0 individuals/mi)
(Sidorovich, V.E. et al. 1995)
- A mink generally spends the summer in an area of 15 - 20 hectares (37 - 50 acres), but
there may be extensive fall and winter movements to locate swift, nonfrozen streams (Nowak & Paradiso 1983).
Natl. Acad. Sci., Burton & Pearson 1987,
Cons. Intl. 2005, IUCN 1994, IUCN 1996, IUCN 2000, IUCN
1984, Nowak & Paradiso 1983, Oryx 1991, Schreiber et al. 1989, Sidorovich,
V.E. et al. 1995, Spec. Cons.
Found., Univ. Tartu,
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Last modified: March 11, 2005;