European mink (lat. Mustela Lutreola) a predatory animal of the Kunih family. Belongs to the detachment of mammals. In many historical habitats, it has long been considered an extinct animal and is indicated in the Red Book as a species, which is threatened with disappearance. It is difficult to determine the exact number of population, but, according to estimates, in the wild there are less than 30,000 individuals.
There are several reasons for the disappearance. The first factor was the valuable mink fur for which there is always a demand. The second the settlement of the American mink, which replaced the European from the natural habitat. The third factor is the destruction of reservoirs and places suitable for life. And the last epidemics. European minks are subject to viruses in the same way as dogs. This is especially true for places where the population is large. Pandemia is one of the reasons for reducing the number of these unique mammals.
European norm is a rather small animal. Males sometimes grow up to 40 cm with a weight of 750 g, and the females even less weighing about half a kilogram and a little more than 25 cm long. The body is elongated, the limbs are short. The tail is not fluffy 10-15 cm long.
The muzzle is narrow, slightly flattened, with small round ears, almost hidden in thick wool and nimble eyes. The fingers of the mink are articulated by the membrane, it is especially good on the hind limbs.
The fur is thick, dense, not long, with a goodwill, which remains dry even after long water procedures. The color is plain, from light to dark brown, rarely black. On the chin and chest white spot.
Geography and habitat
Earlier, European minks lived throughout Europe, from Finland to Spain. However, now they can only be found in small areas in Spain, France, Romania, Ukraine and Eurasia. Most of this species live in Eurasia. Here their number is 20,000 individuals twothirds from the global number.
This species has very specific habitat requirements, which is one of the reasons for a decrease in the number of population. They are semiwater creatures living both in water and on land, so they have to settle near reservoirs. It is characteristic that animals settle exclusively near freshwater lakes, rivers, brooks and swamps. Cases of the appearance of a European mink along the sea coast have not been recorded.
In addition, Mustela Lutreola needs dense vegetation located along the coastline. They organize their dwellings, digging up the den or settling hollow logs, in a businesslike way, insulating them with grass and leaves, thereby creating comfort and offspring.
Minks night predators that most comfortably feel at dusk. But sometimes they hunt at night. Hunting is an interesting way the animal carries out its prey from the shore, where it spends the main part of the time.
Minks excellent swimmers, fingers with membranes help them use paws like fins. If necessary, they dive well, in case of danger, swim under water to 20 meters. After a short breath, they can continue the swim.
Minks are carnivorous animals, which means that they eat meat. Mice, rabbits, fish, crayfish, snakes, frogs and waterfowl are part of their diet. It is known that the European mink feeds on some vegetation. The remains of the skins are often stored in their lair.
Feeds on any small inhabitants of water bodies and surroundings. Basic foods are: rats, mice, fish, amphibians, frogs, crayfish, beetles and larvae.
Near settlements they sometimes hunt chickens, ducklings and other small homemade living creatures. During the period of hunger, they can eat waste.
Preference is given fresh prey: in captivity, with a lack of quality meat, they starve for several days before they switch to spoiled meat.
Before the starting, they try to make reserves in their refuge from freshwater, fish, rodents, sometimes birds. In shallow reservoirs, immobilized and folded frogs are stored.
European minks loners. They do not get into groups, live separately from each other. The exception is the period of mating, when active males begin to arrange chases and fights for ready to mate females. This happens in early spring, and by the end of April early May, after 40 day pregnancy, numerous offspring is born into light. Usually in one offspring from two to seven cubs. Their mother holds them for up to four months in milk, then they completely switch to meat nutrition. Mother leave about six months later, and after 10-12 months, reach puberty.