Mink are part of the mustelid family, along with animals like stoats, weasels, pine martens, otters and badgers. However, unlike their relatives, mink are a non-native, invasive species in Scotland. They were first introduced half-way through the 20th century when they escaped from fur farms.
Mink have dark brown-black fur with a small patch of white on their chin and throat.
They are crepuscular, which means they are most active at dawn and dusk, spending their time marking their territory and looking for prey.
As semi-aquatic predators, their strong swimming ability makes them extremely proficient hunters.
Mink have webbed feet and a water-repellent coat, making them adept hunters in the water.
Mink are a non-native, invasive species in Scotland. Since they were introduced in this country, they have had a devastating effect on biodiversity, especially in the Western Isles. As fierce predators, they pose a particular threat to ground-nesting seabirds and salmon. Projects to control mink populations are underway across large parts of Scotland.
You should report any sightings of mink in the Western Isles to the Hebridean Mink Project.
In Tayside, Angus, Aberdeenshire, Speyside, Moray and the Highlands mink control is coordinated by the Scottish Invasive Species Initiative partnership. You should report a mink sighting in this area to by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or through the website.
Unfortunately, if mink come into our care, we cannot release them and, by law, they must be put to sleep. The UK Government enforces legislation that determines that non-native, invasive species must be humanely euthanised and we do need to operate within the law.
Where do mink live?
Mink are widespread across Scotland except in the far north of Scotland and on some of the islands.
They will make their dens near bodies of water, such as streams, lochs or ponds, that have nearby tree cover. However, they have been known to make their homes near farmland or in gardens and even in towns. Mink dig dens or repurpose hollow logs to live in, adding grass, leaves or fur leftover from prey to make it cosier.
Mink are fiercely territorial animals and mostly live alone, typically only coming together to breed.
What do mink eat?
Mink are carnivores with a voracious appetite for birds, particularly seabirds, and their eggs, small mammals, fish, amphibians, shellfish and crustaceans.
Mink are thought to be to blame for the disappearance of moorhen from Lewis and Harris in the Hebrides.
When are baby mink born?
After mating in the spring, female mink give birth to a litter of between three and seven young, known as kits, in May. Kits are independent and start to disperse from mid-August. Half of all kits die within a year of birth.