At the end of March, AIWC welcomed an unexpected visitor. For the first time in about ten years, a mink made an appearance. This new patient was found near Brooks with a swollen eye and has been admitted as a patient.
So what’s the deal with minks in Alberta? What is a mink anyway?! Let me tell you!
The American mink (Latin name: Mustela Vison) weighs about 1 kilogram full grown. These little critters have long, thin bodies ranging from 65 to 75 cm long. They have small, rounded ears, pointed snouts with whiskers, brown-ish coats and sometimes have white spots on their chins and chest.
In Alberta you can find minks in the boreal, foothill and Rocky Mountain natural regions.
These little weasels are semi-aquatic which means they love to spend time near the water. In fact, you’re not very likely to find a mink unless you’re close to a watercourse.
Minks have semi-webbed feet and non-retractable claws that help them climb trees. They’re great swimmers– according to Live Science they can swim up to 30 m under water! These little creatures were made for waterside living. Their coats are coated in oil to help repel H2O.
These nocturnal hunters are most active during dawn and dusk hours when they go out looking for ducks, fish, small birds, rodents and even muskrats! Crayfish, frogs, snakes, mice, moles and chipmunks also make excellent snacks for a hungry mink.
Minks tend to live alone but come together to breed. They mate in March with mini-minks born in May in litters of six to eight. Kits become independent from mama mink at six to ten months.
Minks need to look out for coyotes, bobcats, and large owls; predators that enjoy having weasels for dinner.
AIWC’s mink patient is having his eye treated and seems to be getting feistier every day! While it’s exciting to have a feisty little mink patient at AIWC, it looks like he will be on his way back to the wild soon.
Minks are just another example of the beautiful, diverse wildlife that call our province home.
There are many ways to support AIWC in its wildlife rescue and conservation efforts. You can:
- “Adopt” an animal
- Invite our education team to your classroom
- Become a friend of AIWC
- Make a one-time monthly donation via CanadaHelps
- Help us build new enclosures and rehabilitation spaces. Contact us for a donor package
- Donate to the AIWC Forever Home Campaign
- Give from our wish list
- Leave a legacy or planned gift. Contact us for more information
- Attend an AIWC event
- Bring home your own copy of AIWC’s first children’s book: Scared Skunk
By Nina Grossman, AWIC Volunteer