Mustela vison
Mustelidae (weasels) in the order Carnivora

Adults are almost entirely brown. The mink is one of few mammals in which males are larger than females. Males are 27 1/4 inches long and 3 pounds while the largest female may be only 21 1/4 inches long and 2 pounds. Musk glands in the anal region secrete a strong odor considered by many to be more obnoxious than that of either weasel or skunk. This odor is given off particularly during the breeding season but also at any period of intense excitement.

Males: Total length: 20–27 inches; tail length: 7–9 inches; weight: 1½–3¼ pounds. Females smaller (to 2 pounds).
Habitat and conservation: 
Minks need permanent water and prefer woods nearby. They dwell along river- and stream banks and the shores of lakes and marshes, as well as farm ponds and lakes. Minks live under tree roots, in cavities in banks, under logs or stumps, in hollow trees or in muskrat burrows and lodges. The nest chamber, which may have several entrances, is about a foot in diameter and contains grass, leaves, fur and/or feathers. Regulation of the harvest continues in accordance with the mink population density.
Minks prey upon mice, rabbits and other terrestrial animals as well as fish, crayfish and other aquatic forms. Minks do not kill wantonly. Most food preferably is carried to a den where it is eaten. The surplus is cached in the den but frequently spoils and is not used.
Distribution in Missouri: 
Statewide. Generally scarce; most common in the Mississippi Lowland with its extensive network of canals and ditches.
Uncommon; harvest is regulated.
Life cycle: 
Males have a large home range with a series of temporary homes; females have a much smaller range with only a few homes. Minks are chiefly nocturnal, don’t hibernate in winter, and aren’t social except when the young are being raised. Breeding begins in late February and lasts until early April. Gestation averages 51 days. The single annual litter of 4–5 young appears in early May. Eyes open and weaning begins at about 5 weeks. The family stays together until the end of August.
Human connections: 
Mink fur is durable and of excellent texture. Small pelts are made into coats; larger ones are used for trimming. Rearing minks in captivity for fur production is practiced on a limited scale in Missouri.
Ecosystem connections: 
Minks prey on numerous small animals, keeping their populations in check, while becoming prey themselves to other predators from great horned owls to coyotes.
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