Menu
Home // Discover wildlife // Facts and figures // American mink

American mink

Mink are not native to Britain but were brought here from North America in 1929 to be bred commercially for their fur. Since then, releases and escapees have successfully established themselves in the British countryside. Mink have shiny, chocolate-brown fur that looks almost black, especially when wet, and a slightly bushy tail. Mink are mostly nocturnal or crepuscular but may be active at any time. They make their nests in existing burrows by the waterside often between tree roots or in old rabbit burrows, which they line with dry vegetation, fur and feathers. They are agile climbers and good swimmers, and have a very well developed sense of smell, which they use to locate their prey and to detect threats.

Head-body length: 30 – 47cm (males are larger than females on average)
Tail length: About half the length of their body
Weight: 0.5 – 1.5 kg
Lifespan: Up to 6 years in the wild

Reproduction

Mating occurs in March and April and a single litter of 4 – 6 kittens is born usually in May. Weaning starts at 5 – 6 weeks and the young learn hunting skills from their mother before leaving the nest at 13 – 14 weeks.

Diet

Rabbits, small mammals, fish and birds such as ducks and moorhens, as well as invertebrates.

Habitat

Aquatic habitats, such as streams and rivers, reed-beds and estuaries, where there is abundant waterside vegetation for cover.

Predators

Few natural predators but otters, badgers and golden eagles have been recorded as predators in other countries.

Threats

Trapping and shooting.

Status & conservation

Non-native, common and widespread.

Population size & distribution

GB population 110,000. The population has continually declined over the last 25 years. Mink are widely distributed throughout mainland Great Britain and Ireland, and are present on a few islands, including Lewis, Harris and Arran.

Did you know?

Studies of mink in the wild have shown that they can dive 100 times in a day, typically to depths of about 30cm and for durations of 10s, but dives of up to 3m and 60s duration have been recorded.

Let's keep in touch...

We'd love to tell you about our conservation work through our regular newsletter Wildlife World, and also how you can save endangered species through volunteering, taking action or donating. You must be 18 or over. The information that you provide will be held by People’s Trust for Endangered Species. For information on how PTES processes personal data, please see our privacy policy.

People's Trust For Endangered Species

People's Trust for Endangered Species, 3 Cloisters House, 8 Battersea Park Road, London SW8 4BG

Registered Charity Number: 274206 • Site Design: Mike Leach Creative at Waters • Branding: Be Colourful

Copyright PTES 2019

X
- Enter Your Location -
- or -