31 Facts About European mink


European mink, known as the Russian mink and Eurasian mink, is a semiaquatic species of mustelid native to Europe.

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The European mink occurs primarily by forest streams unlikely to freeze in winter.

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European mink numbers began to shrink during the 19th century, with the species rapidly becoming extinct in some parts of Central Europe.

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In Central Europe and Finland, the decline preceded the introduction of the American European mink, having likely been due to the destruction of river ecosystems, while in Estonia, the decline seems to coincide with the spread of the American European mink.

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Fossil finds of the European mink are very rare, thus indicating the species is either a relative newcomer to Europe, probably having originated in North America, or a recent speciation caused by hybridization.

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European mink is a typical representative of the genus Mustela, having a greatly elongated body with short limbs.

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The European mink's tail is short, and does not exceed half the animal's body length.

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The European mink's skull is less elongated than the kolonok's, with more widely spaced zygomatic arches and has a less massive facial region.

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Winter fur of the European mink is very thick and dense, but not long, and quite loosely fitting.

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European mink is similar to the American mink, but with several important differences.

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Unlike the European mink, which has white patches on both upper and lower lips, the American mink almost never has white marks on the upper lip.

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The European mink's skull is much less specialised than the American species' in the direction of carnivory, bearing more infantile features, such as a weaker dentition and less strongly developed projections.

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The European mink is reportedly less efficient than the American species underwater.

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European mink has both a permanent burrow and temporary shelters.

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European mink has a diverse diet consisting largely of aquatic and riparian fauna.

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In Estonia, the European mink population has been successfully re-established on the island of Hiiumaa, and there are plans for repeating the process on the nearby island of Saaremaa.

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In Latvia, the European mink was thought to be extinct for years, until a specimen was captured in 1992.

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In European Russia, the European mink was common and widespread in the early 20th century, but began to decline during the 1950s–1970s.

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Data from the 1990s indicate the European mink has disappeared from the northern half of this previous range.

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In mid-19th-century Germany, for example, European mink populations declined in a decade due to expanded land drainage.

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European mink was historically hunted extensively, particularly in Russia, where in some districts, the decline prompted a temporary ban on mink hunting to let the population recover.

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Decline of European crayfish has been proposed as a factor in the drop in mink numbers, as minks are notably absent in the eastern side of the Urals, where crayfish are absent.

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The decline in European mink numbers has been linked to the destruction of crayfish in Finland during the 1920s-1940s, when the crustaceans were infected with crayfish plague.

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The failure of the European mink to expand west to Scandinavia coincides with the gap in crayfish distribution.

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American European mink was introduced and released in Europe during the 1920s–1930s.

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Twenty-seven helminth species are recorded to infest the European mink, consisting of 14 trematodes, two cestodes and 11 nematodes.

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The European mink is vulnerable to pulmonary filariasis, krenzomatiasis and skrjabingylosis.

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The European mink possibly was gradually absorbed by the polecat due to hybridisation.

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Polecat-European mink hybrids are termed khor'-tumak by furriers and khonorik by fanciers.

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The first captive polecat-European mink hybrid was created in 1978 by Soviet zoologist Dr Dmitry Ternovsky of Novosibirsk.

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Predators of the European mink include the European polecat, the American mink, the golden eagle, large owls and the red fox.

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