If you could find an American mink you would meet a very interesting animal!
The American mink is a soft, furry creature. He is a smart swimmer and climber too.
Where they are found
The American mink can be found all over the northern American states.
He lives in Alaska and Canada, but he does not like the dry state of Arizona.
What do they look like
The American mink is a long sleek animal with brown fur and white fur under his chin and on his throat. His fur is very valuable.
Hunters trap mink to get his beautiful fur. The mink has short, soft under fur and an oily outer layer of fur. The oily fur is water resistant.
The mink has short legs and a long tail. His feet are webbed because he loves to swim. He is about 18 – 27.5” (46 – 70cms) long and weighs 25 – 56 oz (700 – 1,600grams.)
Where do they live
The American mink lives in forest areas and in places where he can find water. He loves rivers, marshes, swamps, lakes and even coastal waterways.
The American mink makes a den in the banks of these waterways.He is a carnivore and eats all kinds of creatures he finds by the water.
Fish, frogs, rats, water birds – actually almost anything that he can catch and eat.
The mating season for minks is between January and April.
The female has a litter of three to six babies in a fur lined nest. Imagine having a nest lined with very expensive mink fur!
The babies are weaned after five to six weeks. They stay with their mother till autumn learning how to hunt and look after themselves.
The adult American mink likes to live alone. He will make a home in a hollow in the river bank or an old log.
He doesn’t mind taking over an old muskrat’s den.
The American mink is semi aquatic, he likes to be in the water and is a good swimmer. His webbed feet help him to swim.
He is most active in the early morning at dawn and at dusk, the early evening. At this time he is busy catching food and marking his territory.
He marks his boundaries with a scent that comes from his anal glands.
This scent tells other mink about his territory and if it is mating time.
Predators and dangers
The American mink is hunted by other bigger animals . Animals like coyotes and bobcats, as well as birds of prey. The mink avoids danger by being a secretive creature.
His most dangerous enemy is human hunters. Catching the mink for their precious fur means the mink is often caught in traps.
The American mink is also at risk from pollution and environmental change. The waterways the mink swims in are often polluted with chemicals that are harmful.
Contribution to nature
The American mink is a good hunter himself and he keeps down the population of some of the smaller animals.
Too many rats and rabbits and frogs that could become a problem.
American Mink Facts for Kids
- The American mink can live for up to ten years.
- It is an excellent swimmer and can swim for nearly three hours at a time.
- It dives out for five metres and can swim down to a depth of 30 metres (10ft).
- It catches snakes, but does not eat them.
- Some areas have mink ranches. The mink are kept for their fur, because it is so valuable.
- Only two of the three mink varieties still exist. The European mink and the American mink. The sea mink died out in the 1860’s.
- It was estimated that over two million mink pelts would earn over seventy two million dollars. That’s a lot of pelts and a lot of money!
Sleek: soft and smooth
Semi-aquatic: swimming and living partly in the water.
Pelts: The skin and fur taken from an animal.
Anal gland: sac of bad smelling liquid, near the animals anus.
What did you Learn?
1.What makes the American mink so valuable?
The American mink has a very valuable fur coat.
2.Where do American minks like to spend their time?
The American mink loves to be near water.
3.Why is it difficult for the American mink’s predators to catch him?
The American mink is fast. He swims and climbs well. He is very secretive.
4.What makes the American mink such a good swimmer?
He has a sleek body and webbed feet that help him swim fast.
5.Do you think breeding the mink on a ranch helps keep the wild American mink out of traps?
The idea behind the ranching of minks is to have less need for traps in the wild, but the mink is still hunted for its fur.
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