"Protecting you and your environment"

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        The American Mink (Mustela Vison)

        The American Mink was introduced to the UK, it first started to become established around the 1950’s when some were released, and others escaped, from the farms where they were being reared for their pelts (fur) for the fashion industry. It is a highly adaptable and efficient predator found mainly near water courses but will quite happily live away from water if sufficient food is available.

        Size : ​ Adult males can grow to around 70cms including the tail, adult females around 50cms. They can weigh from 0.5 kg to 1.5 kg

        Colour :Usually a dark brown to black colour, but a few colour morphs do occur

        Diet : ​ Fish, birds, bird eggs, small mammals, frogs, rabbits, crayfish.

        Breeding : ​ Mink breed once a year from around February to April, this is usually the only time mink will accept the presence of another nearby as they are highly territorial. A typical litter size is between 4-7, the young are born with their eyes shut and are totally reliant on their mother for the first few weeks of life. By the time the kits are 7 to 10 weeks old they are ready to care for themselves.

        Habitat : ​ Mainly along water courses where they make their dens in hollows in trees, under tree roots, other animals burrows and even man made structures. I have found den sites in small electric sub stations by the side of canals, in the power packs that power lock gates and even in a combine harvester !. Mink have anything from 4 to 10 den sites along their territory and will regularly move up and down this within the territory area.

        Mink can occasionally be seen in the day but they are far more active at night time. Clues to their movements can be found in the form of droppings, which are dark cylindrical and tapered at one end and usually around 4-6 cms long. The droppings are often full of fish scales, small bones, bits of fur and feather and have quite a distinctive unpleasant smell. Their footprints can often be found in soft ground at the edge of water courses or found in purpose made structures called mink rafts.

        Mink are occasionally mistakenly identified as otters, the two species have quite distinct differences and once these are known it’s relatively simple to distinguish between the two. Otters are substantially larger than mink, otters' tails are broad and flat at the base tapering towards the end and are approximately half the length of their bodies. Mink tails are only about a third of their body length, cylindrical and not tapered. If mink have a white patch it will be on the chin only whereas the white markings on an otter extend from the chin right down the chest. When in the water mink swims quite high up and the head, part of the body and tail will be visible in otters only the head and part of the tail can be seen. An Otters head shape is broad rounded and powerful looking, almost seal like whereas the mink has a pointed weasel shaped head.

        Why control ?
        Mink are a non native species to the UK and are causing a reduction in the levels of some of our native wildlife species. Mink are the biggest contributing factor in the decline in water vole numbers in the UK, there is also good evidence to show that where the mink has turned up on small offshore islands they have been responsible for complete nesting failures of common gulls, black headed gulls, common tern and arctic terns. When they choose to make a den site in a man made structure the smell and associated health risks from their droppings is an unacceptable risk. Mink can cause a lot of problems in garden ponds, fisheries and fish farms as once they find an easy food source in a venue like this they can return time after time !.

        Methods of control
        There are a number of control methods available and ways to monitor for their presence. Once we have carried out a detailed survey of your premises we will be happy to discuss the methods most suitable for your problem.