The Slinky Mink
By Karen Menard
Quietly slinking along the edges of northwest Ohio’s forested wetlands, the American mink can occasionally be spotted by a keen eye. Its sinuous, long body and sleek, dark brown fur make it easy for this carnivorous mammal to blend with its natural surroundings while searching for a meal.
Mostly solitary and secretive, these voracious predators tend to prefer wooded habitats less than 100 meters from water. They patrol stream banks, hugging the edges mostly during the evening or early morning hours. Considered “semi-aquatic,” they can also be found swimming, using their well-adapted, partially webbed feet, and can dive to a depth of five meters.
The mink’s excellent sense of sight, smell and hearing support its skills in capturing prey such as small mammals, frogs, fish, crustaceans and birds. Aggressive, fearless and having few natural enemies, these agile marauders will not hesitate to defend themselves against other larger animals encountered along the way.
Mink rely heavily on wetland habitats for hunting and breeding. Continued wetland conservation at Metropark sites ensures success for this species in the wild.
During the winter, look for mink along the edges of Mallard Lake at Oak Openings Preserve or the banks of Swan Creek or the Ottawa River.
Did you know?
The American mink is important to our ecosystems in that it helps to keep small mammal populations (such as muskrats, mice and voles) in check.