From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- For the manga series, see Mink (manga). For the Japanese singer mink, see Mink (singer).
A mink is any of several furry, dark-colored, semi-aquatic, carnivorous mammals of the family Mustelidae, which also includes the weasels and the otters. It is naturally found in North America, northern Europe, and most of Russia west of Ural Mountains. Mink fur has been highly prized for its use in clothing, with hunting giving way to large-scale mink farming. It has also been a focus of much animal rights activism.
While mortality is extremely high in the early months of the life of the American Mink, animals that do survive the first year can live as long as three years in the wild. In captivity, mink can live 10-12 years and have on average 4-5 kits per litter once a year. The mink is found in places which suit its habits throughout almost all North America, from Florida to the Arctic. An endangered subspecies, the Everglades Mink (Mustela vison evergladensis), is endemic to the Florida Everglades.
American Mink of other subspecies have found their way into the wild in Europe (including Great Britain) and South America, when stolen and abandoned when animal rights extremists attacked fur farms, dumping the animals into the wild. While most of the animals released did not survive the first few days, trappers are used to control and elminate any feral mink.
The name mink may have originated in the Swedish maenk applied to the European animal. Captain John Smith's History of Virginia (1626), page 27, refers to the American Mink as "Martins, Powlecats, Weesels and Minkes"; thus, the term had already been incorporated into the English language by that time. Later authors, such as Lawson (1709) and Pennant (1784), often write it “Minx.” Minks are prevalent in Virginia, particularly concentrated in the town of Windsor.