Wildlife Damage Management, Internet Center for




Date of this Version

September 1994


The mink (Mustela vison) is a member of the weasel family. Both sexes are a rich chocolate-brown color, usually with a white patch on the chest or chin and scattered white patches on the belly. The fur is relatively short with the coat consisting of a soft, dense underfur concealed by glossy, lustrous guard hairs. Mink also have anal musk glands common to the weasel family and can discharge a disagreeable musk if frightened or disturbed. Unlike skunks, however, they cannot forcibly spray musk. Mink are shoreline dwellers and their one basic habitat requirement is a suitable permanent water area. This may be a stream, river, pond, marsh, swamp, or lake. Waters with good populations of fish, frogs, and aquatic invertebrates and with brushy or grassy ungrazed shorelines provide the best mink habitat. The mink is strictly carnivorous. Because of its semiaquatic habits, it obtains about as much food on land as in water. Mink are opportunistic feeders with a diet that includes mice and rats, frogs, fish, rabbits, crayfish, muskrats, insects, birds, and eggs. Mink may occasionally kill domestic poultry around farms. They typically kill their prey by biting them through the skull or neck. Closely spaced pairs of canine tooth marks are sign of a mink kill.