By Melissa Wynn

North American Mink

[/media-credit] North American Mink

North American Mink are soft and slinky members of the weasel family. Similar in smell, size and shape to the common ferret, mink are extremely agile and fast as can be. Having partially-webbed feet gives the North American Mink a great advantage in the lakes, rivers and streams where they fish for their favorite aquatic prey. Although fish, crayfish and other freshwater creatures make up the majority of the mink diet, they also hunt birds, rodents and insects on land. North American Mink also love eggs and have been known to raid the occasional chicken coop. Unlike most carnivores, mink will kill merely for sport as well as for food. How can something so cute be so viscious? North American Mink have long been trapped for their dense and luxurious coat. Most commercial mink fur now come from mink farms around the world. With the exception of an occasional natural-born albino, all wild North American Mink are dark brown. Farm-raised mink have been scientifically bred to a variety of mutation mink colors that include blue, gun metal, pale brown and beige. North American Mink are primarily nocturnal so it is the lucky and few dedicated evening hikers of the Sierra that encounter the musky and illusive mink in the wild. Break out the snowshoes and you just may be one of those lucky few.

Facts from Funk and Wagnall Encyclopedia, US Fish and Wildlife Service

photo by Robert Barber/Painet Inc. from