The European mink is a carnivorous mammal belonging to the Mustelidae family. It has a uniform brown fur and a white mark on the upper and lower lips [unlike the polecat and the alien competitor, the American mink]. The female is lighter than the male: 500g compared to 850g.
The European mink is present only in wetlands such as marshes, streams, riparian forests and wet meadows. The diversity of these habitats provides a large source of prey all year round, such as amphibians, small mammals, fish and birds. The presence of low and dense vegetation, such as sedge, rushes, reeds and brambles in partially or entirely flooded areas provides essential refuges during the day.
The European mink used to be largely present in Europe. Today, it remains in a few isolated and decreasing populations in Eastern Europe (Russia, Ukraine, Romania and Estonia) and in the North of Spain and South-West of France (7 departments). The European mink distribution area has shrunk by 80% since the middle of the 19th century and the total number would have decreased by 90% at least during the 20th century.
Historical and current distribution area of the European mink (source: IUCN, 2016)
The European mink defends its territory, it is known as a territorial animal. It occurs in vast territories, along watercourses which range from 3 to 15 km per individual. These vast territories, called a home range, allow the European mink to have access to its primary needs. The home range of one male often overlaps the home range of several females. Males and females meet only in the breeding season and males can travel as far as 70km during this period.
The breeding season occurs from January to the end of February in Western Europe. The gestation period ranges from 39 to 44 days. The female gives birth to 2 to 5 young between April and June and rears them alone. After more or less 10 weeks, the young are weaned. They reach their sexual maturity the year following their birth.
The European mink
It is a carnivorous mammal belonging to the Mustelidae family. It is classified as “critically endangered” according to IUCN’s Red List of threatened species.
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