British Wildlife Wiki

The American Mink (Mustela vison), is an unwanted alien that has become established after escaping from fur farms during the later 1920's. Dark brown fur makes confusion with otter possible but mink's smaller size slimmer build and proportionately shorter tail help distinguish it. Found throughout Britain and Ireland.


The Mink's long slim body is covered in glossy, thick dark brown fur with a white patch under the chin. They have short legs with partially webbed feet, which make them excellent swimmers. They can be found in wooded areas and fields near streams and lakes. They do not dig burrows, but instead take over dens abandoned by other animals.

Some mink with pale-coloured fur may be seen, these are known as Pastel Mink, bred exclusivly for their lighter-coloured fur to be used in clothing.

Diet and Hunting[]

Mink are semi aquatic predators able to hunt both aquatic and terrestrial prey. They can dive under water like an otter to capture fish, crayfish, and frogs. They can also capture terrestrial prey like birds, snakes, mice, voles, and rabbits. Mink are generalist predators focusing on whatever prey is most available and easily captured. These animals are mainly active at night and do not hibernate.


The larger American male will mate with European Mink females earlier in the spring than the males of the same species; no offspring are born, but the females do not then breed again that season. This is believed by some to have contributed to the decline of the European Mink.

American Mink have also been implicated in the decline of the Water Vole in the United Kingdom and linked to the decline of water fowl across their range in Europe. They are now considered vermin in much of Europe and are hunted for the purpose of wildlife management.

After escaping from fur farms in the past few decades they have spread over Britain and despite initial attempts to exterminate them they continued to spread.