southwestern mink

(Mustela vison vison)


The body of the southwestern mink is long, and slender with short legs, small ears and a long, bushy tail. The fur is a 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 from 580-700 mm in total length, with females being smaller. The mating season is from late February to early April, and a litter of 1-8 young are born to late April to May. This species is solitary and unsociable, although the male and female associate for brief periods in the mating season. Both parents bring meat to the young. They live near water, and use temporary housing in which they are known to cache food. They 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 though there is no significant mortality from predators except humans. Lifespan in the wild is 3-4 years.


The southwestern mink is found on the other side of the Appalachians, in the very western part of Virginia. They are always found around water and prefer forested and brushy habitats.


They are adapted to aquatic and terrestrial hunting, and the diet is extremely variable by season and location. The most common prey animals are mice, muskrats, rabbits, birds, frogs, fish and crayfish.