common mink

(Mustela vison mink)


The body is long and slender, with short legs, small ears, and a long, bushy tail. The fur is dark, glossy brown, with white spots on the chin, throat, chest, abdomen and anal region. The adult male weighs 0.9-1.6 kg, and is 580-700 mm total length with the female being slightly smaller. The mating season is from late February to early April, and 1-8 young are born in late April to May. This species is solitary and unsociable. They live near water, and use temporary housing to cache food. They will release a strong, fetid liquid from scent glands if injured, irritated or excited. They are occasionally preyed upon by owl, bobcat, wolf, fox, river otter, fisher and other mink, but there is no significant mortality from predators except humans. Lifespan in the wild is probably 3-4 years.


This subspecies of mink is found in most of central and eastern Virginia. This species is more aquatic than most mustelids except otters, and can be considered semi-aquatic, so they are always found near water. They also prefer forested, brushy areas that provide cover for dens.


They are adapted to aquatic and terrestrial hunting, and the diet is extremely variable by season, and location. The diet is mainly crayfish, fish, mice, rabbits and muskrats.